Performance Management lessons from LAGAAN

Released in the year of 2001, this sports-based iconic movie was based on a small number of people in a village in the Victorian India where they challenged the British for a game of cricket so as to avoid paying of taxes. The movie is an iconic one because it depicts how the protagonist, Amir Khan as Bhuvan took the responsibility to rescue his fellow villagers and how he taught them to play cricket. And the best part of the movie is that, how in spite of all the major and minor obstacles, Amir Khan won the game against the British and managed to secure an opportunity to not pay taxes for the coming three years.

That being said, this movie is quite extensively used by the B-Schools to teach about the various performance management lessons that can be derived from this movie. So after watching this movie again and following an extensive analysis, I have noticed certain instances which can provide exemplary examples of performance management. Below depicted are some of the instances:

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  1. At the time when the villagers were unable to pay back the taxes, Bhuvan took the responsibility of all the villagers and acted as a leader to carve out a way of glory for them.
  2. After challenging the British over a game of cricket, Bhuvan took it upon himself to learn the game and then to teach all the fellow members.
  3. During the selection of the cricket team members, Bhuvan believed in instilling diversity and inclusion policy. Kachra was selected in the team because of a deformity in his hand which made him a good bowler, in spite of all the caste based differences. Bhura was selected because he was an expert in running to catch his hens which was identified as a major parameter to catch the ball. Even the drummer who could not speak, was selected because he spent most of his lifetime playing the drums and hence had a good upper body strength. So from these instance, Bhuvan was recognized to identify the differences in the team which can be a source of competitive advantage.
  4. At the onset of the game, Bhuvan and his team did not have the necessary resources. But he was more concerned about the performance of his team than about the scarcity of resources. He gave directions to build the necessity from the scratch and that too by the local folks. Being a leader, Bhuvan turned out to be innovative.
  5. Bhuvan did not just made the team, but he did a good job in allocating roles and responsibilities to each of the team members based on their strengths.
  6. One of the note-worthy point is that Bhuvan set some measurable goals and he supervised and improved the performance of his team members. His mantra was pure hard work but with empathy and compassion, which shows a good sign of performance management.
  7. At the end of the movie, even when Kachra facing the last ball, Bhuvan did not give up. He ran for that single run but then it was turned out to be ‘no-ball’. So as a leader of a team, Bhuvan showed immense amount of trust in his team members and a ‘never give up’ attitude.

Lagaan is definitely a movie to watch if one is trying to understand what it is that a leader truly believes in and does. So next time when you watch this movie, you can watch out for these instances of performance management.

Source: Movie ‘LAGAAN’