TEAM BUILDING THROUGH
LESSONS FROM LAGAAN
The amount of performance improvement that
is possible from turned on teams is not small
it is enormous."
TEAM-A WAY OF CORPORATE LIFE
Team building has become one of the most popular and widely
used intervention for improving the management of industrial
and governmental organizations. Today’s organizations are
utilizing teams more and more to meet customer demands and
stay competitive in a changing marketplace.
Teams are replacing individuals as the basic building blocks of
modern organizations. The corporate sector here and abroad is
gradually realizing the tremendous potential of teams enabling
companies to take more creative and informed decisions and
effective coordination without the the need for close supervision.
Lessons in Teamwork to be learned from an
age old fable
Once upon a time a tortoise and a hare had an argument
about who was faster.
They decided to settle the argument with a race.
They agreed on a route and started off the race.
The hare shot ahead and ran briskly for some time.
Then seeing that he was far ahead of the tortoise,
he thought he would sit under a tree for some time and relax
before continuing the race.
He sat under the tree and soon fell asleep.
The tortoise plodding on overtook him and soon finished the
race, emerging as the undisputed champ.
The hare woke up and realized that he had lost the race.
Moral of the story:
“Slow and steady wins the race”.
This is the version of the story we’ve grown up with.
Recently, the story has been retold.
The hare was disappointed at losing the race and he did some
soul searching. He realized that he’d lost the race only because
he had been overconfident and careless.if he had not taken
things for granted, there’s no way the tortoise could have
beaten him. So he challenged the tortoise to another race. The
This time the hare went all out and ran without stopping from
start to finish. He won by several miles.
Moral of the story:
Fast and consistent will always beat the slow and
It’s good to be slow and steady ;
but it’s better to be fast and reliable.
The tortoise did some thinking this time, and realized that
there’s no way he can beat the hare in a race the way it was
currently formatted. He thought for a while, and then
challenged the hare to another race, but on a slightly
The hare agreed. They started off in keeping with his self
made commitment to be consistently fast. The hare took off
and ran at top speed until he came to a broad river. The
finishing line was a couple of kilometers on the other side of
The hare sat there wondering what to do . In the meantime
the tortoise trundled along, got into the river, swam to the
opposite bank, continued walking and finished the race.
Moral of the story:
First identify your core competency and
then change the playing field to suit your
The hare and the tortoise, by this time, had
become pretty good friends and they did some
thinking together. Both realized that the last race
could have been run much better.
So they decided to do the last race again, but to
run as a team this time.
They started off, and this time the hare carried the tortoise
till the riverbank. There , the tortoise took over and swam
across with the hare on his back. On the opposite bank, the
hare again carried the tortoise and they reached the
finishing line together. They both felt a greater sense of
satisfaction than they’d felt earlier.
Moral of the story:
It’s good to be individually brilliant and to have strong
core competencies ; but unless you’re able to work in a
team and harness each other’s core competencies, you’ll
always perform below par because there will always be
situations at which you’ll do poorly and someone else does
Lessons in Teamwork to be learned from
from an age old fable
Team work is mainly
about situational leadership,
letting the person
with the relevant core competency
for a situation
Lessons learnt from the story of hare and
• Fast and consistent will always beat slow and steady.
•Work to your competencies.
•Pooling resources and working as a team will always beat
•Never give up when faced with failure.
Is a group of two or more people ,
who interact and influence each other ,
but has some characteristics in greater degree than ordinary
groups, including a higher commitment common goals
and a high degree of interdependency and interaction.
In a Nut shell
A Team is a group organized to work together to accomplish a
set of objectives that cannot be achieved effectively by
•High level of interdependence among team members
•Team leader has good people skills and is committed to team
•Each team member is willing to contribute
•Team develops a relaxed climate for communication
•Team members develop a mutual trust
•Team and individuals are prepared to take risks
Characteristics Of Good Team Building
•Team is clear about goals and establishes targets
•Team member roles are defined
•Team members know how to examine team and individual
errors without personal attacks.
•Team has capacity to create new ideas
•Each team member knows he can influence the team agenda
Lessons from Lagaan
• It is about Bhuvan and his team, who, against all odds, fight
for pride, land and country - and win.
• It is how one single person with a passion can make a
difference. It is about the triumph of human spirit, the
• Lagaan is set in the village of Champaner (somewhere in
Central India) in the late 19th century. Yet, it does not
seem too far removed from us in the 21st century.
• Each of us has someone we know in some Indian village.
Many of us still pay a visit to our native place every once in
a while. It is about the unchanged reality of India - the wait
for the rains every year. It is also about the only sport
which matters in India and which each of us has grown up
with - cricket.
• Above all, Lagaan is about people. Ordinary, average people,
who are going about their lives - like each of us. Who, when
the moment demands, do extraordinary deeds. It is about
the power of a Team - the muthi ("closed fist"). As a team,
they were fighting for the future of tens of thousands of
their countrymen against a heartless enemy (the British).
They had few resources, and little knowledge of the game
of cricket. What they did not lack was fighting and team
spirit, and the will to win. They were not playing a game;
they were fighting a war.
• The India of today, too, faces a lot of challenges. If we can
learn from Bhuvan and his bunch of motley cricketers, the
New India that is being built can be a different place, one
which occupies pride of place in the world economy, one
which is respected and feared but not ignored, one in which
the community and nation come before self, one which
Bhuvan's XI would have been proud of.SUNIL KUMAR
Think of Problems as
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
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
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.
Put organization first… If organization
succeeds we succeed
Be Determined in face of
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
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
Give Examples to Enhance
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.
Make a Beginning
Bhuvan did not wait to start. He did not see around. He made a
bat and a ball, got the kid interested and started. Many times,
we brood and end up thinking too much.
The only way one can test out new ideas is
by jumping in, by getting started. Only
when we close the door behind us will we
see the doors in front start opening.
Small Victories are Important at
The first time Bhuvan hits the ball, he does so in public, in full
view of the entire village. He makes it seem easy, he makes
them want to participate. In the film, watch the faces of the
villagers after Bhuvan's first strike.
When starting any project, it is important
to have small wins at the start to
motivate the team.
Building the Team
This is at the heart of the film in the first half. Just
watching Bhuvan go from one to eleven offers a lot of
learning. He understands the pressures and the soft
points of people, and uses this knowledge to make them
part of his team. Watch and listen to the song which he
uses to recruit Goli, the largest land owner in the
village, and Ishwar Kaka, Gauri's father. To get Bhura,
the murgiwalla, he makes him feel important as a person
who can teach something (catching) to the rest of the
lot. Watch also how Bhuvan talks to each of his team
members. Each one is treated as special, as being
Building the team is like recruitment. One needs to
select the right people and motivate them.
Bhuvan also assigns responsibilities to each of his
people. Just getting the people on board is not good
enough. They have to be told what the goal is.
Just as the hand consists of a thumb and four
fingers, a team consists of different individuals.
The objective is to make them all work together like
a fist, like a team.
Support the Team
Bhuvan backs his people to the hilt, even when they make
mistakes. He is willing to give Kachra a second chance (on the
second afternoon of the match) despite the skepticism of
others. He knows Kachra can be a match-winner - and Kachra
proves him right.
It is very important in any team that the
captain support his team, backing the
right person at the right time for the
It's about Team Spirit
However good and passionate Bhuvan was, he could
not have won the match on his own. Cricket needs
eleven players. It is a team game. So is business.
Individual brilliance means a lot, but as Bhuvan
showed, an average group filled with team spirit and
playing with passion can overcome a group of
talented, experienced but under-motivated
individuals. Members must put the Team before Self.
Take the time when Bhuvan is batting with Bhura,
and he (Bhuvan) slips while going for a run. Bhura
pushes Bhuvan away to the other half of the pitch,
and sacrifices his own wicket because he knows that
the captain is the one who can lead the way.SUNIL KUMAR
Make the Best of Limited
Watch how Bhuvan makes the bat and ball, and later how the
pads are made. Look at the scene where Bhuvan and his team
are practicing at night - the entire village is gathered around
their team with mashaals to create the light. The villagers of
Champaner have limited resources, but they make the best use
One cannot always wait for the perfect
tools or for the availability of infinite
resources. As entrepreneurs, we must
innovate - focus on getting the work done.
When one has fewer resources, the brain
and body work that much harder and much
more imaginatively.SUNIL KUMAR
Lagaan is about how ordinary people can do
extraordinary deeds. We all have it within us.
Look at the Reader's Digest "Drama In Real
Life" stories. When the occasion comes,
people - each one of us - can do amazing
LEADERSHIP IN THE
Value based leadership is the need of
the hour. The set of thirteen lessons
discussed above will help in the
development of an ethical leadership
that is critical for organizations today.
As one progress towards the 21st
century, while aspects
of management will still be very necessary, there will be
a tremendous premium on leadership.
To be successful in the future, we need to operate as a
leader than a manager.
Lawrence M. Miller, President of the Miller Consulting
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEADERSHIP &
“We need less management and more leadership. There
are very distinct qualitative differences. Management
assumes controlling, directing, checking. There is
specificity to management: there is an assumption of
authority and control in management. Leadership is a
very different quality. It involves creating direction
through vision, direction through inspiration, direction
through example, as opposed to direction through
control.” SUNIL KUMAR
Stephen Burr, HR Head – GSK says that the fast-growing
international environment is giving way to a new concept –
EXCEEDERSHIP: Embedding the desire to surpass targets into
the business mindset and performance. It's all about developing a
performance driven culture with a can-do attitude, where there is
a trust, focus, innovation and integrity, and where people are
positive and optimistic, and are empowered to make decisions.
Exceedership means the drive to go well beyond the agreed
targets, doing the bold, the unexpected, the creative; an
intolerance of mediocrity, encouraging radical, risk-taking
ventures; and developing a resilient, unrelenting positive attitude.
Russell-Greig,President GlaxoSmithKline -JUNE 2004)
EVOLUTION FROM LEADERSHIP TO
A NEW MODEL FOR 21ST CENTURY LEADERSHIP
• EARLIER PARADIGM
• Being a Manager
• Being a Boss
• Controlling people
• Centralizing authority
• Directing with rules and
• Establishing “position power” and
• Demanding compliance
• Focusing on numbers and tasks
• Confronting and combating
• Stressing independence
• Encouraging ‘old-boys” networks
• Changing by necessity and crisis
• Being internally competitive
• Having a narrow focus:
• “Me and my department”
• CURRENT/FUTURE PARADIGM
• Being a leader
• Being a coach and facilitator
• Empowering people
• Distributing leadership
• Aligning with vision and strategy
• Guiding with shared values and a
• Building “relationship power” and
• Gaining commitment
• Focusing on quality, service and
• Collaborating and unifying
• Fostering interdependence
• Respecting and leveraging
• Continuously learning and
• Being globally competitive
• Having a broader focus:
When evaluating how well team members are working
together, the following statements can be used as a guide:
Team goals are developed through a group process of team
interaction and agreement in which each team member is
willing to work toward achieving these goals.
Participation is actively shown by all team members and roles
are shared to facilitate the accomplishment of tasks and
feelings of group togetherness.
Feedback is asked for by members and freely given as a way of
evaluating the team's performance and clarifying both feelings
and interests of the team members. When feedback is given it
is done with a desire to help the other person.
Team decision making involves a process that encourages
active participation by all members.
Leadership is distributed and shared among team members
and individuals willingly contribute their resources as needed.
Problem solving, discussing team issues, and critiquing team
effectiveness are encouraged by all team members.
Conflict is not suppressed. Team members are allowed to
express negative feelings and confrontation within the team
which is managed and dealt with by team members. Dealing
with and managing conflict is seen as a way to improve team
Team member resources, talents, skills, knowledge, and
experiences are fully identified, recognized, and used
Risk taking and creativity are encouraged. When mistakes
are made, they are treated as a source of learning rather than
reasons for punishment.
Team members must understand their increasing roles in the
team process and actively work to support each other to
maximize effectiveness and meet organizational expectations.
High INVOLVEMENT Teamwork provides managers,
supervisors, team leaders, and team members with the
practical skills needed to be successful within their teams.
Practical Aspects of Directing Teams
When directing a small team it is important to structure the
tasks to be performed. Goals should be easily understood by
everyone and tasks broken down so that they appear achievable.
The Brick Wall Approach
Nothing will be more demoralising for your team than setting
them a task which seems impossible . The brick wall approach
will usually result in the task not being accomplished.
Break Down the Task
Therefore it is important to define a task as a series of
small but significant steps which seem realistic. As the
person performs these broken-down steps he/she will still
feel that something tangible has been accomplished, and
the next step toward finishing will become clear.
1. The brick-wall approach 2. Broken down-steps
The trouble with teams
Teams are not penacea for all the organizational ailments.
According to Management guru, Peter Drucker, “The now
fashionable team in which everybody works with everybody
on everything from the beginning rapidly is becoming a
Teams have been overused. Sometimes it is much more
efficient for an individuals to work out a problem alone than
to solve it with help of others.
Companies fail to create the necessary environment for teams
The risk of productivity loss from social loafingSUNIL KUMAR
Establishing teams is not a cure-all success formula for
organizations. Teams will be successful only to the extent that
they have a clear purpose and can produce measurable results.
The goal of Building A Dynamic Team is to familiarize
participants with the fundamentals of high performance
teamwork and help them build a Team Agreement that serves
as a contract that will guide them through the completion of
Today’s organizations are utilizing teams more and more to meet
customer demands and stay competitive in a changing
• Proctor & Gamble had 30-50% lower manufacturing costs.
•Kodak improved SPC by 228%, safety by 67%, output by 12%
and decreased costs by 11%.
•GE improved productivity by 250%.
•Ford had lower defect rate than most Japanese competitors.
•General Motors relies on teams to improve its product quality.
Domino’s pizza sends its managers to leading concept Boot
Camp to learn team building skills.
At the simulated military boot camp, managers develop
teamwork and communication skills by forming a platoon
that must survive in combat. The training helps managers
become better team players and more willing to be judged as
part of a team instead of as individuals.
Team building must be
- a way of life
- the responsibility of every Team Member
- a continuous process
- about developing a clear and unique identity
- focused on a clear and consistent set of goals concerned
with the needs and ambitions of each team
- member recognizing the unique contribution that each
individual can make an awareness of the potential of
the team as a unit
- results oriented enjoyable
Team building must NOT be
- a short term, flavor of the month imposed without regard
to peoples’ feelings
- reserved for only some members of the team
- an excuse for not meeting personal responsibilities
- a process where actions clearly contradict intentions
Lessons from GeeseLessons from Geese
for Team Buildingfor Team Building
Fact 1Fact 1
As each goose flaps its wings, it creates uplift forAs each goose flaps its wings, it creates uplift for
the birds that follow . By flying in a V-formation,the birds that follow . By flying in a V-formation,
the whole flock adds 72% greater flying rangethe whole flock adds 72% greater flying range
than if each bird flew alone.than if each bird flew alone.
People who share a common direction/purpose andPeople who share a common direction/purpose and
sense of community can get where they are goingsense of community can get where they are going
quicker and easier because they are traveling on thequicker and easier because they are traveling on the
thrust of another.thrust of another. SUNIL KUMAR
Fact 2Fact 2
When a goose flies out of formation, it suddenly feels theWhen a goose flies out of formation, it suddenly feels the
drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves backdrag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back
into formation to take advantage of the lifting power ofinto formation to take advantage of the lifting power of
the bird immediately in front of it.the bird immediately in front of it.
If we have as much sense as a goose, we stay inIf we have as much sense as a goose, we stay in
formation with those headed where we want to go. formation with those headed where we want to go.
We are willing to accept their help and giveWe are willing to accept their help and give
out help to others.out help to others. SUNIL KUMAR
Fact 3Fact 3
When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into theWhen the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the
formation and another goose flies to the point position.formation and another goose flies to the point position.
It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharingIt pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing
leadership. As with geese, people are interdependentleadership. As with geese, people are interdependent
on each other's skills, capabilities, and uniqueon each other's skills, capabilities, and unique
arrangements of gifts, talents, and resources.Sharedarrangements of gifts, talents, and resources.Shared
leadership and interdependence gives us each aleadership and interdependence gives us each a
chance to lead as well as opportunities to restchance to lead as well as opportunities to rest..
Fact 4Fact 4
The geese flying in formation honk from behind toThe geese flying in formation honk from behind to
encourage those up front to keep up their speed.encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. InWe need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In
groups where there is encouragement, the production isgroups where there is encouragement, the production is
greater. The power of encouragement is the quality ofgreater. The power of encouragement is the quality of
honking we seek.honking we seek.
Fact 5Fact 5
When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down,When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down,
two geese drop out of formation and follow ittwo geese drop out of formation and follow it
down to help and protect it. They stay with itdown to help and protect it. They stay with it
until it dies or is able to fly again. Then theyuntil it dies or is able to fly again. Then they
launch out with another formation or catch uplaunch out with another formation or catch up
with the flock.with the flock.
If we had as much sense as geese we willIf we had as much sense as geese we will
stand by each other in difficult times as wellstand by each other in difficult times as well
as when we are strong.as when we are strong.
If we are willing toIf we are willing to
…………we can achieve whatwe can achieve what
we want.we want.