The departure of Kumble and the re-arrival of Ravi Shastri has dominated the media headlines a few months back. Despite the passage of time, it is good to revisit this incident. The facts are well known. Our intention here is to discuss what management lessons can be drawn which are applicable across the board.

The first point of interest is obviously the leadership style of the two protagonists. The second is the proper demarcation of the turf. The third is the creation of a credible institutional mechanism to resolve any major issue arising out of their relationship.
And above all, the overall interest of the team and Indian standing. It is clear that these are issues quite common in the corporate sector.

We will consider each one very briefly.

1. We have to keep in mind that each one is an independent power center.
Selectors have chosen the Captain on the basis of proven track record.
The coach is also quite often had been a Captain himself and thus well aware of what Captaincy means. When two strong personalities have to work together, there are possibilities of great synergy but also of disaster. If the Captain and Coach are on the same page, the team will be able to reach its highest potential. On the other hand, if there is no convergence, the team will fail to act as a unified team.Many reasons can be there for non -convergence: Genuine difference in perception
Ego clash; and Misunderstanding on respective role and turf.

2. Exactly the same issues may and do arise in the corporate sector. Only substitute the word Coach with Mentor. Consider an example. There are many. One brilliant entrepreneur builds a great institution. At a point in time, he realises that he should hand over the reins. He does but carves out a role for himself as a Mentor.The system may or may not work. The basic problem is that the new incumbent will feel constrained. The very fact that the need for a Mentor was felt means that he was not considered as good as the person he has replaced. Visions of the two persons may be different. And this is bound to create tensions.

3. Let us go back to cricket. The Captain is always thinking of the coming match. He has a short-term vision. He is in the middle and that gives him one kind of perspective. The Coach, on the other hand, has a longer-term perspective. Moreover, he has the opportunity of viewing and reviewing the performance, both individually and collectively. This gives him a different type of perspective. These two different perspectives have to converge. And that may not always happen. 

The same situation may arise between the CEO and Mentor. And the institution will suffer. Dual or multiple power centric system hardly works. It does not in any way that the leader will function dictatorially. Inclusiveness in decision-making is a must. But ultimately the buck must stop at one table not two.

4. We know ego clashes are common. Deep difference in strategic thinking also is not that uncommon. The BCCI did set up a semi-formal mechanism to resolve such issues but it didn’t work. In the Indian corporate sector, the system of mentorship at the highest level is relatively new and few. So no mechanism has really developed.But it is clear that if the CEO needs any support, it has to come from the Board.

Contributed by Prof B Bhattacharyya, Former Dean, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade in collaboration with