Like most cricket-lovers of 60s, I also would follow the exploits of Tiger Pataudi on the cricket grounds through radio commentaries and reports in newspapers or sports magazines, wonder at his marvels of cricketing genius and would enjoy Team India’s triumphs under his captainship.
I also had one occasion to actually watch him play during one of the Duleep trophy matches around 1966/67 at Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmadabad.
We would celebrate the elations in discovery of our hidden strength to be able to confront the Goliaths through the performances of Team India under his captainship..
Nawab of Pataudi was our teenage fantasy hero.
However, I would recall his exploits much later in my life too, when I had grown senior enough to my young colleagues, while quoting him during the training sessions on diverse management topics like Team Building, Delegation, Importance of process in achieving desired results, Leadership Qualities.
I would like to place my these instances of remembrances to keep the candles of great wisdom alight in memory of the versatile personality of Mansur Ali Khan, the Nawab of Pataudi.
A] No challenge is intimidating enough to throw up the towel without a decent fight:
In a surprise turn of events, he was asked to take over the captainship of Team India in West Indies under extremely traumatic circumstances. But at no time during that fateful series anyone could see an iota of hesitant approach in this young lad, as can normally be expected when such an onerous responsibility is thrust on such inexperienced shoulders.
B] Leader is First among equals.
At no time during that fateful series of West Indies or for several years thereafter , no one remembered that Pataudi was the youngest ever Captain and that all most all other of his colleagues were much older and experienced than him in that team. Similarly, in the later years, his junior colleagues never felt the gap on account of his stalwart status.
He was so much of a team player, that if his word would be the last one in major team decisions, he was also the principal source of inspiration.
C] A good leader would build a high-performance team irrespective of who chose the team members.
Pataudi always used to say the Captain of India’s cricket team should have strength to accept what others consider as the best among the cricket players in the country. He also believed that it is not possible for a world class spinner to be a world class fielder or vice versa.
He was thus master at devising strategies where sum of strengths of each player was always far more than the sum of weaknesses of these players.
D] Positive Attitude, Always
He never presented ‘reasons’ like poor pitch, mismanaged tour schedules, bane of poor fielding for the defeats.
He would also never deploy defensive tactics for saving the match from a loss or use negative tactics to pullout a draw. For him the spirit and cause of cricket were supreme than the records of wins or losses or draws.
E] Believe in your own abilities and expressively invest confidence in your team members
His all [symbols of ] expression – the way he would lead the Team onto the fielding each session, his field settings, his changes of bowling etc. – always manifested his strong confidence in the ability of Team India to take on the real or perceived might of the opponents.
He is also known to hold the view that he would not offer such basic advice to a player, who has risen to the level of national test team, as to how to bowl or field or bat under a given situation. He would certainly convey his analysis of the situation and his own strategy to handle it and then leave the execution in the hands of the player concerned, until the strategy warranted a change.
The practice of Theory of Delegation could have tremendously benefitted if the model case studies would have been developed with the help of such execution best-practices.
F] Aim high and face the challenges head-on.
If setting attacking umbrella field settings or devising three spinner innovation were his messages of not settling with a low aim, his own swash-buckling aggressive over-the-field stroke-play when a couple quick wickets were lost was his own way to lead with example in the face of the challenge.
He would probably accept little less but certainly not little lower.
G] Follow the discipline, demanded by job-on-hand.
Even though he was from a relatively wealthy family background or have had metropolitan and western upbringing, he was known to follow a disciplined routine during the matches.
He was also known not to hesitate in bringing up his erring illustrious colleagues in the matters of professional discipline.
His ‘tiger’-like fielding prowess was iconic not only among his own team members but among the members of opponent teams.
I would pay my very respectful homage to Mansur Ali Khan ‘Tiger’, the Nawab of PATAUDI not only as cricketer or captain par excellence but also as an unsung beacon of best-practices of team management and leadership.