I once attended a presentation by cricket commentator and journalist Harsha Bhogle titled The Winning Way where he enumerated what makes for winners, taking reference naturally from cricket and relating to the corporates. I liked the time spent, not only because he is from my alma mater (IIM Ahmedabad) but because of the content too.
When I thought of this post, I wondered how the same idea could be expanded to the winning ways of people in other walks of life, not in terms of winning a match or a contract. We have so many of them — most-loved players, actors, gurus, politicians, and so on and so forth. Hence I decided to take a peek into such people. The views expressed are very much my personal ones and not a reflection on the merits or demerits of any particular person.
Let us start from the most obvious: cricket. What made Sachin win the hearts of so many? Was it the fact that he came into the scene as a baby-faced youngster, or that he was from a city which literally controlled the fate of aspiring cricketers in those days? Or was it because he managed to set so many records in his looooooong career? Or was it the media which built him up. Mind you there were the likes of Dravid, Laxman et al at the same time with equal mastery over the game who probably received fewer accolades than they deserved.
Next, let us look at the superstar Rajinikanth or the Big B, Bachchan, or for that matter the Khans. What helped them in winning mass adulation? It probably started with Rajinikanth’s antics of flipping the cigarette and thereafter his punchy dialogues and fighting style. The Big B of course managed to win the hearts of many thanks to his ability to act in a wide variety of roles. Probably, by the time he arrived on the scene, the audience had had enough of the then heartthrob Rajesh Khanna (may his soul rest in peace). With the Khans, it is a different story. One truly has the ability to pull off a variety of challenging roles, the other who started off well in his acting career, lapsed into “Rajini-esque” style and the third, well, his popularity is baffling.
What about the gurus? There are so many these days. Prefer not to take names. The one with an international following of millions succeeded by spreading love and happiness. He also came into the scene when a lot of youngsters who were going through work-related stress found in his methodology a saving grace. There is another who became well-known for the physical exercise that he popularised as well as for the ridiculing he heaped on various IMF foods and drinks in language that caught the attention of the general masses.
There are of course the self-styled gurus who win by exhibiting fancy tricks or by miraculously or otherwise solving some pain or problem of an unsuspecting devotee. One has seen in recent times a guru who has reached his present eminence, going through the rigors of renunciation from an early age and learning in depth the Vedas and Vedic practices. He now lectures on the scriptures and guides people towards understanding the larger purpose of life.
The greatest amongst all, in my opinion, was once a Guru, living a life of simplicity, who was considered a reincarnation of the Almighty. He was adored by one and all for exactly the same qualities.
On the other side of the spectrum are politicians whose winning ways are totally different. The Mahatma, in all fairness, cannot be called a politician. He was loved for his prescription and practice of non-violence. Kamaraj and Obama stood out for their sincere care of people and for their straightforwardness, and Indira Gandhi for being bold, forthright, firm and the only “man” in a government of men. More recently, India’s current leader has a way with words and doles out promises whether achievable or not.
What about the most loved/admired peer in school or college? We tend to look up to the teacher or professor whose subject is our favourite or whose teaching style and knowledge we find impressive. With regard to our peers, we tend to appreciate and like the person who is in synch with us and exhibits empathy towards us. Of course, particularly during college days, the flamboyant types who show leadership qualities without treading on others’ toes tend to be universally liked.
And what about the corporate bosses with whom we spend a good part of our lives? I have seen bosses who would shift all the work load to the subordinate and others who would take all the load themselves. Both don’t win since one is a shirker and the other does not allow the subordinate the required experience to learn. There are bosses who think they are witty and constantly ridicule others. There are others who would say “I told you so and hence the result.” But the boss who shows empathy for the subordinate, offering guidance and support, shows winning ways.
Summing up, what qualities tend to characterise winners? Maybe it is the personality or media build-up. Appeal to the masses can be through one’s achievements or one’s mannerisms. It can be the promises made and kept. It can be the ability to talk convincingly. It can even be an ability to guide people out of their problems and pains.
But the sure-shot prescription of sincerity, love and an honest concern for others would ensure winning over people for the long term.
About the Author
Thiagarajan has over 40 years of organizational experience including Harita Seating Systems Limited (formerly Harita Grammer) as CEO for one of their division ; was also Marketing Head of Best & Crompton . He is currently a Management Consultant for companies in Asia Pacific Region. Qualification include : BE Mechanical , MBA from IIM (Ahmedabad) ; specialized courses on Senior Management from Stanford University /NUS Singapore and TQM by AOTS Japan.