Life greatest lessons are usually learned at worst times and from worst mistakes. Elections results of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh (HP) are out now. The results have brought happiness for the ruling party but disappointments for the opposition parties. Congress winning HP elections is undoubtedly the biggest news of the day as it rarely finishes on the winning side.
Indian politics is a great tutor and is the biggest learning ground for corporates. Let me give you an example- Congress is in similar position what Nokia was in early 2010… rapidly losing market share, consumer disowning its products but the adamant leadership not ready to accept the reality. While Nokia is now history Congress has some life left in it. Its routing in Gujarat and Delhi indicates that it’s going the Nokia way, but HP results will give them some hope.
How corporates should decode these elections for their benefit. There are seven key learnings for leaders and corporate world.
- Leaders must invest in building relationship with employees and clients – Many calls him BJP trump card and few call him BJP saviour but PM Modi is one leader who has built a strong relationship with the people. Why PM Modi is so popular among voters? The reason is very simple. He followed his promises through actions and probably because of this we say action speaks louder than words. When you look at the corporate world Ratan Tata is popular among consumers because he always followed his words with actions. He stands committed to his promises. Leaders who wish to have long life in the corporate world must learn from PM Modi. It’s very important to choose the words wisely and then deliver what is committed otherwise a time will come when organization finds difficult to sustain. It’s the relationship of PM Modi with voters that people feel emotionally connected with PM Modi and came out in large numbers to support him. A corporate leader should also invest time and energy to build a strong bond with its employees and consumer. It will help him in getting unparalleled support during good or difficult time.
- Important to develop leadership at local units to have sustainable Organization– Almost all companies work on succession planning and each struggle when a great leader leave them abruptly. For a corporate having multiple offices, it must invest in creating a strong leadership at local business units. One of the reasons Congress failed miserably in Gujarat because their central leadership have not actively campaigned in the elections and because of clear vacuum of local leadership. A great leader empowers local leadership rather wasting his time in every activity of local leadership.
- Advertisement cannot sustain sales of a product– You can’t rely on positive results by spending huge on advertisements. All parties BJP, AAP and Congress spend heavily on advertisement however its BJP which swept the results. Advertisement is good to create awareness, but you can’t fool the consumers through advertisements. BJP stood by its narratives of Hindutva plus development whereas Congress narrative was to stop BJP as it will spread communalism. AAP promoted its Delhi and Punjab model of governance. While Punjab is reeling under drug menace, Delhi is struggling to timely pay the wage bills of its employees. Very few will know Delhi gets one of the highest tax collections in the country. AAP tried to convince people of Gujarat through high voltage advertisement but ultimately it fizzled.
- Operational excellence- A good product cannot alone guarantee you the success. It must be well supported by a superb supply chain. Organizations must create machinery which ensures product reaches to the consumer on time. One of the key reasons BJP dominated both Congress and AAP because it has the best election machinery. AAP jumped into the elections but never focused on building on-ground support system whereas Congress machinery is corroded. So, despite 27 years of incumbency, if BJP is winning with thumping numbers, it’s because of operational excellence they have created on ground in Gujarat.
- Companies must introspect and revisit strategies– It’s not always that everything goes as per the plan. Where the results are positive or negative, introspection is important and modifying action based on insights gives competitive advantage. In the current era, BJP is the only political party which introspects all results and take corrective measures. One of the reasons for their dominance in Indian politics. If companies want to increase market share, revenue, or profits, they must introspect and revisit strategy.
- Eliminate inefficient employees and processes- Winning elections despite being in power for 27 continuous years is extraordinary. One of secrets of BJP is that they renovate themselves continuously. In the current elections they dropped more than 40% seating MLAs’, changed CM midway sending a clear message to the party and the people that non-performance has no place in the organization. Organizations must learn big from this practice of BJP. It’s very important to continuously evaluate the performance of the employees and in case of non-performance, they must be shown the door otherwise they will slowly create a culture of non-competence that will lead to the collapse of the organization. Congress performed poorly because they are still stuck with non-performers like Rahul Gandhi.
- Victim card strategy will backfire in longer run – You must have met few individuals whom you can call crying baby. They always cry and play victim card but never accept their own mistakes for the failures. AAP is that crying baby of Indian politics. Initially, it gained sympathy that helped them in winning elections. But when in power, it failed to deliver the promises. AAP kept playing the victim card that central government is not supporting them but gradually sympathy of people turns into frustration. One must understand that victim strategy may gain sympathy in the beginning but eventually people will start disliking you. Because of this never-ending victim card positioning, AAP is finding difficult establish itself outside Delhi. The greats don’t blame others for their own failures. They own responsibility and guides others to success.
Those who don’t learn from the mistakes seize to exist in longer run. You can pick up a mistake and choose to move along with it; or you can set it down and use it as stepping stone to greatness. The choice is yours but remember success of the organization, life of many people depends on your choices. So, its imperative for a leader to learn from mistakes and make wise choices.