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Are you the Dhoni or the Zinadine of your organization?

Posted in Learning agility by Rashmi Datt on May 28th, 2011

Can you think of a leader who publicly accepts his mistake? Mahendra Singh Dhoni did just that in the crucial India-Pakistan semifinals of the World Cricket Cup. He candidly accepted that dropping off spinner R Ashwin for a medium pacer in Ashish Nehra was an error because he had failed to read the wicket correctly.

This was not the first time Dhoni had showed his capacity for self-examination. Earlier, when South Africa beat India in the Match at Nagpur, Dhoni again admitted that the decision to hand the ball to Nehra instead of Harbajan for the final over proved costly.

This was the response of a balanced mature leader who is willing to take ownership for his wrong moves and reflect on the lessons that need to be learnt.

So where does French captain of the football team, Zinadine, in the 2006 FIFA world cup  come in?

When Zinedine Zidane headbutted Italian player Marco Materrazi, in the final match between France and Italy, the world watched incredulously. How could this be happening? Zidane, whom millions pinned their hopes on, was with one action throwing everything away.

The French press found it difficult to forgive Zidane for his red-card exit, which cost the country dearly.

‘A final and odious headbutt. We were left speechless by such stupidity’, wrote Le Figaro one of France’s leading newspapers in disgust. ‘How could this happen to a man like you?’ exclaimed L’Equipe, the French daily sports newspaper. ‘Zidane botched his exit’ said L’Est republicain.

‘It was a night when his reputation was tainted forever – when he showed he could not control his temper like he can a football. But as disappointing and shocking as it was, it was not the first time the dark side of France’s flawed footballing genius has emerged.’ Wrote BBC sports journalist Andrew McKenzie .

Zinadine had a history of violent conduct – it is not the first time he was expelled. In France ’98 he was sent off and banned for two matches for stamping on Faoud Amin of Saudi Arabia. Two years later he head-butted Hamburg’s Jochen Kientz while playing in the Champions League for Juventus and was banned for five games. In total, he has been sent off 14 times in his career.

The question is, did Zinadine accept these as blunders? That this behaviour was a flaw that needed to be corrected? Did he learn from them? Was there somewhere a steely resolve not to repeat them? It seems unlikely, as in the final reckoning when Zizou snapped, it was also rationalized away.

He was sorry, he said, but did not regret his action.

‘It was inexcusable. I apologise’, said Zidane. ‘But I can’t regret what I did because it would mean that he was right to say all that.’

‘We always talk about the reaction, and obviously it must be punished. But if there is no provocation, there is no need to react.’

Zinadine blamed the provocation rather than taking a full responsibility for his reaction. His (some) fans also supported him – How could someone take personal and racial abuse and walk away smiling just because something important was at stake? Was he a robot or a human?

But it is common knowledge that abuse flies around the pitch…so Zinadine should have kept his cool. He had the free will to control himself.

Swami Vivekanand writes: ‘Life is a series of fights and disillusionments. The secret of life is not enjoyment, but education through experience. But alas, we are called off the moment we begin really to learn’.

One Response to 'Are you the Dhoni or the Zinadine of your organization?'

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  1. Daniel said, on March 2nd, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Materazzi got the goal in only by first psinuhg the defender in the neck and down. If he DIDNT do that, he wouldn’t have gotten to the ball at all.Also, I dont know if you saw it or not, but the guy Zidane headbutted was the same guy who injured his shoulder. Also, there was conversation exchanged, followed by the EYE-talian walking away while mouthing off. This is why you saw Zidane JOG in front and essentially Eff him up .

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