What Modi can, in turn, learn from CEOs?

After a more than expected feedback from my last blog ‘What CEOs and Management Folks can learn from Narendra Modi’, I today attempt to reciprocate the curve. All of us have to learn from each other; for the one who learns, unlearns and relearns will eventually triumph.

As NDM, as he can be briefly named, dons the hat of the CEO of Union of India, there will be huge challenges galore waiting for him. As they say, becoming and sustaining/excelling are two different chapters. Yes, till the time you become one, it seems the ordeal. But once you do, the life after is much tougher.

Some of the biggest hurdles NDM is going to face are ~ a huge expectation from the large diaspora of people who have voted for him; a number of attempts to reduce, if not nullify, the anger of people who have not voted for him; give an infrastructure boost to the country; press accelerator of the economy, work to improve the agriculture and manufacturing sectors; and last but not the least “Deliver”.

We Indians, time and again see, meet, and listen to hordes of political people making all those promises at time of elections. It’s said, once bitten, twice shy. I wonder if there is any one amongst us reading this blog, who is not 10 times shy. Making election promises, showing road maps, towering claims is one piece. The biggest one is to Deliver. That’s what has been the major enemy of growth in India. Leaders don’t deliver. But do we have a book on how to have a political leader deliver. No, no one has it. But yes, as I said, it’s all about learn, unlearn and relearn. I had shared quite a few examples of what CEOs can learn from Modi. Can it be reversed? To me, yes it can. Indian’s corporate world is a huge knowledge book of learning. If looked precisely, we have number of leadership examples both in successes and in failures. The onus is on us, which one we can imbibe to groom ourselves. So can the CEOs hold a torch for the CEO of Union of India, and if yes, for which attributes? Let’s unearth only key 3 for this blog, to save it for becoming a bit long for some.

Structure – The first antagonist to a delivery platform will be the scale and size. Scale & Size of India is huge, but that’s not what I am talking about. I am referring to 70-75+ ministers, in fact more of a jumbo cabinet. With more than one party forming government, it could be even more (outgoing had 72). Out of them, consider having at least 40 odd as Cabinet ministers. That’s a huge number of FLRs (First Line Reportees). This election has made us see a gravity, one which either is for Modi or against Modi. People haven’t voted for or against a party, it is on a person. An intelligent political master ashe is, he will go for the kill to make himself more successful. But will a 40 FLR structure be an effective way.

There will be very few top Organizations in India wherein such a level of Hierarchy exists. I think this is where CEOs can first help Modi. Get on with an EMC (Executive Management Committee or Cabinet), lower down, and your direct reportees and make delegation more relevant. This also means making people empowered and making them more responsible. For example, entire transport Infrastructure can be under an EMC head – Aviation, Railways, and Surface Transport & Shipping. The broad policies of transport en masse will create more opportunities and of course will bring in the much needed operational effectiveness. Second example could be that of People – Labour, Women & Child, Health, HRD and Social Justice. The entire bucket will be on social performance and upliftment. Similarly many more can follow.

Measurable – One of the biggest issues facing the political diaspora and ruling parties of India have been living up to anti-incumbencies. But why? What exactly is anti-incumbency? Why it exists? If you go deeper, you will understand that there are goals which are set and if they are not accomplished or fulfilled, people become upset and this specific mood is called anti-incumbency. Can Modi bring a change here, or is there anyone who can help Modi defeat anti-incumbency for any state election or 2019. Yes, the CEOs can. Effective CEO’s work on measurable Goals. They don’t only make one, but make a structure to measure them. Something which they call as KPIs. It helps them to make the entire monitoring process more transparent, more process driven rather than person driven. Once the KPIs start getting measured, it will help to take reactive action rather than proactive action on performance. A simple yet very effective tool used by CEOs since long.

Visible – More often than not, politicians are most visible and grab the lion’s share of news. So ismaking ‘Visible’ the third learning a mistake? Not exactly. If you see clearly, Indian Politics have seen politicians logging the limelight, but not the governments. Every one of us may conclude that the government doesn’t speak. For Modi, to make his ascent to the top chair more relevant and to keep his space of people’s mind and heart, he need to make visibility a key character of his government. Average CEOs get buckled under a good Brand Management, while good CEOs take brand management to a new lever to aim reaching to greatness. Only few teams in the Corporate World, today can match to the relevance of a Brand & Marketing team for a CEO. If Modi, takes it on to Deliver, he needs to make sure that he adapts and uses Visibility & Branding for packaging the delivery. The only caution shall be that, the package content itself needs to be realistic and well measured.

Well, we don’t know if he becomes a success, but certainly both he & the CEOs have a huge window of opportunity to learn from each other. May someone finally ‘Deliver’?

(This article is neither for nor against any individual or individuals, but written in the awe of enhancing & sharing management learning) (Creating Values, is a Management Consulting firm, and provides consulting in IT, Human Capital and Executive Coaching)


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