Badminton is a game of vigor, swift action and nimble movements. While observing all the dynamics involved in playing week on week I realized that there are some strong emergent learnings for a leader that could applied in any field especially. Lessons are anyway lurking all around us for us to sense and grow. Badminton court is just another place for that. I present a short summary of the learnings for a leader from the badminton court.
The format in which we play the game ensures we could be playing against or with different people of different skill levels, so first thing this/her teaches is to be flexible. Flexibility is one of the key attributes of a leader.
Because we might be playing with a partner of different skill level or style it would mean that one has to adapt to the situation by playing as per the strengths and weakness of the partner. So, adaptability and knowing subordinates well are another key attribute of a leader helping him/her to adapt the right style of leadership as per the situation (Situational Leadership).
While playing with a partner it is very essential that both gain each other’s trust. And Trust doesn’t come unless there is respect for each other irrespective of individual skill levels. What lack of trust does is, it makes partners lose co-ordination and makes partners constantly step into each other’s territory making a mockery of the game. Again as a leader one needs to respect all the individuals around him/her and ensure that through coordinated effort mutual trust emerges.
While playing with a partner with inferior skill levels, there are times when one has to cover-up for the mistakes made by them. Infact at times one has to allow one’s partner to commit those mistakes and play freely without antagonizing them. This/her is similar to how a leader needs to ensure there is sufficient tolerance for mistakes to ensure a team is confident to act and learn from mistakes without being under constant fear of repercussions.
Again there are times when one might be playing with a partner who is in peak form or is of superior skill level. Such stages one needs to adjust one’s role and be ready to play second fiddle and continue to provide support where required. Great Leaders, as said somewhere, are not someone smarter than the team but are someone who builds teams with people smarter than them.
A player needs to be aware of his/her strengths and weakness just as he needs to know the same about his/her partner and opponent. While it is essential that he plays to his/her strengths and not to his/her opponents strength it is also equally essential that one endeavors to improve as much as possible on one’s own weakness and be alert to use the opponents weakness to one’s advantage. Strategic thinking based on a realistic assessment of one’s own, teams’ and opponents, strengths and weakness definitely helps in making a good leader.
Last but not the least is in the game of badminton there is no hiding behind anything. One is out in the open exposed in front of everyone with respective skills and attitude. One has to take responsibility and own up the mistakes committed and constantly endeavor to improve. A leader always has to lead from the front, constantly owning responsibility for his/her actions and the repercussions there off.
Leave a bunch of people together and in some time a leader bubbles up to the surface.