TECH TALK: Leadership Lessons from Lagaan (Part 2)

Think of Problems as Opportunities. When Captain Russel challenges Bhuvan to a cricket match, Bhuvan accepts it because he knows that there is really no option. It is a risk, but without taking risks, there are no rewards. Given the state of his brethren (and with no looming rains), Bhuvan viewed the incrementalism of trying to reduce the “double tax” as a non-option against the possibility of a “10-100x” quality of life improvement offered by a victory in the cricket match. In our lives too, we face a lot of problems. We need to think of these as opportunities for innovation.

Dream Big and Define the Goal. Once Bhuvan accepted the challenge, his dream was three years of no tax. It may have seemed unrealistic or even improbable, but then that’s what dreams are. Dreaming is about imagining a different future. In the case of Bhuvan, he not only dreamt big but also put in place a strategy to make that a reality. Another name for Dream is Vision. To make things happen the way we want, we have to envision the future, and paint a picture in front of the others of what we want to achieve.

Put Community Before Self. The important thing about Bhuvan’s dream was that it was not for himself, it was for the community. Never in his talk or action did Bhuvan put himself or his self-interest before that of what his village needed. Bhuvan’s dream of greater good thus elicited (after some initial resistance) the support of the entire province.

Be Determined in face of Opposition. This comes across many times in the movie. Right from the start when the entire village opposes Bhuvan’s having taken up the challenge to when the rest of his team refuses to play because Bhuvan wants to take on board Kachra, who is an untouchable. On all occasions, Bhuvan knows he is right, and faces up and answers his critics with courage, winning their support in the end. We face this situation many times in our organisations. Many a time, we give up and accept what we feel is perhaps a lesser decision. It is at times like these that we need to speak up – as long as we know we are fighting for the right issue, and not against an individual.

Give Examples to Enhance Understanding. Even though Bhuvan didn’t know the difference at that time, he simplified the challenge of learning cricket by portraying it as something similar to gilli-danda. By doing this, he made the impossible seem achievable, he made the mountain seem climbable. Analogies have that effect and can be powerful in helping tame the seemingly difficult. As managers and leaders, we too have the task of motivating the troops to take up challenges in the marketplace. Vision needs to be translated into a series of tasks that the team can understand, thus building a path through the fog.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.