Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was brought up in India, and like most Indians, watching and playing cricket is part and parcel of the way life functions in the subcontinent. And, this is why, despite being away from the country all this while—with the big responsibility of being Microsoft’s CEO, he hasn’t forgotten about the game; in fact, in a recent interview with Axel Springer’s Mathias Döpfner, Nadella expressed his love for Cricket, and compared it to religion.
Nadella, in the interview, said, “As an Indian and a South Asian, I think it’s more than a religion. For all of us, it’s what we grew up with.”
In consideration of the ongoing ICC ODI World Cup 2023 in India, Mathias asked Nadella “What is it you have learned from cricket about leadership?” In response, Nadella recalled his childhood. “I remember one time we were playing a league match in the city I grew up in Hyderabad and there was a player from Australia playing in that league match.”
Nadella and his teammates kept admiring the Australian and watching, and it was then this coach, who was standing behind him said, “Hey, don’t just admire from a distance, go and compete!” Nadella, in retrospect said, “For me, that was a great way of saying: when you’re on the field, how do you go in there and give it your all. Learn from your competition, but don’t be in awe of your competitors.”
Further, Nadella also remembered a day when his captain was not making the best decisions per his teammate, and to prove him wrong, the teammate deliberately dropped catches—bringing the overall morale down. “That really influenced me a lot: this one player brought the entire morale of the team down on purpose just because he was not happy about things. And I do think that, from time to time you get into situations in the workplace where you have one person who is not really bought in, and that’s something you really have to act on,” Nadella added.
In retrospect, Nadella believes that he learned a great deal from the sport of cricket, and has a number of “lessons to take away.”