The results of Karnataka assembly elections may surprise few but for many it may not be that surprising. There are the major takeaways for corporate world from this Karnataka assembly elections.
I will come straight to the point. If you wish to learn about leadership and strategies, then there can’t be better place than Indian politics. Its complex, complicated, and for leaders it comes with limitations and many variables.
So, the biggest learning for corporate world from Karnataka elections are-
- Strong regional leadership is must for sustainable business: After B S Yediyurappa left CM post and chose to play smaller role or one can say forced to play a small role in Karnataka, BJP struggled to find a charismatic face who can lead BJP in Karnataka. In the personality driven world, absence of a strong local face severely dented BJP chances in the assembly elections. With exceptions of UP CM (Yogi Adityanath) and Assam CM (Himanta Biswa Sharma), BJP local leadership doesn’t seem strong, and it will certainly hit badly BJP in longer run. It’s not limited to BJP, in fact, all political parties are struggling with strong regional leaders. The important thing big corporates and central leaders must learn that they need to develop strong regional leaders who can nurture and develop those markets. For small companies, growth will only come if they develop strong leaders in regional hubs.
- One star brand may not ensure results in all markets: For long PM Modi helped BJP winning elections in many states but in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, BJP received setbacks. BJP looked confident that PM Modi will again help them in crossing the line. But things have changed a bit in last one year & may be because of overuse of PM Modi brand. First, a good brand does have a time span and post that its effectiveness starts eroding in the market. Maruti Esteem, Gypsy, Tata Sumo are some of such big, massive market leaders who phased out with time. So, Organization must learn not to overdo their marquee brand. Its effectiveness may reduce in longer run. Brand extensions are good way to gain market share in a new geography, but it doesn’t always require using the same brand name as a poor performance in new market can change its perception of brand in its performing market. BJP will be aware of this that one more result like this, perception of PM Modi brand can change badly.
- Role clarity must for leaders: Its one of the biggest differences between Congress and BJP, and probably the best possible reason for the defeat of BJP. B S Yedurappa was asked to leave CM chair and given an important role in central leadership however, he seems interested in Karnataka politics. His role was not clear in this Karnataka elections. He was neither Mentor, Coach nor leader responsible for winning election. This surely confused voters. Congress had its own share of leadership problems. D K Sivakumar and Siddaramaiah may be against each other, but it was never visible on public forum. Congress central leadership must be credited for this remarkable achievement as managing internal fights internally helped to succeed in the elections. For high business productivity and market share, Board must ensure a clear communication to its leaders and in the age of social media, arguments on public forum must be avoided.
- Experiment is ok but Adventurism is not good: In this year Karnataka elections, BJP dropped more than 70 MLA’s. To best of my knowledge this could easily be the case of highest percentage of MLA’s dropped in the history of any election in India. This adventurism has created ruckus in the party and because of dissatisfaction many leaders left party. One must be wondering, what corporate has to do with this. BJP tried to bring a change in Karnataka unit. Organization must learn that any change is combination of people & process. If you layoff or loose, huge percentage of employee then there can be sudden stop of business. While its difficult to predict percentage, I believe 40% people and 60% process can be a good combination if you really want to bring change that can be accepted by the people.
- Rising star employee must be given more responsibility: Of late, Yogi Adityanath has been in huge demand across India for campaigning in elections after PM Modi. BJP CMs of other states are vocal on demanding Yogi Adityanath to campaign for them. However, this election Yogi Adityanath has limited presence because of impending elections of UP urban bodies. I believe more responsibility needs to be assigned to Yogi Adityanath. Besides PM Modi, Yogi Adityanath is a pan India leader who connects with people across different race, geography, and religion. Important learning for corporate world is that when you find your star employee, it’s your responsibility to nurture, develop and give more responsibility. Its him/her who’s ready to grow & help attitude will help companies to capture new markets.
- Marketing can’t make up for a bad product: There is one more learning for all of us. It has two facets political and corporate. Let’s deep down into political first- I follow elections from a long time and I always heard about anti-incumbency. It was PM Modi and then Yogi Adityanath because of whom, we heard the word pro-incumbency for the first time in Indian political arena. Voters are human being and today’s world of rapid changes; they also want to see change every second day. Undoubtedly, there was anti-incumbency in Karnataka and BJP has failed to bridge that gap through its campaigns. So, if the product is not good then marketers can not help it to cross the line with marketing blitz. A good product can be positioned as great product by a marketing campaign however a bad product will not find acceptance despite huge blitz.
BJP did loose elections but are not routed so Congress must understand that they must work overtime to fulfill promises made to the voters. Similarly, once companies enter a new market, they must ensure that commitments are delivered to the consumers. A new player may enter the market with fancy promises but if these promises are undelivered, they will be forced to shut the shop very soon.