Five Lessons that businesses can learn from the recent state elections

Five Lessons that businesses can learn from the recent state elections

Biswadeep Gupta 26 October 2019 4 min read

Indian democracy and markets are as vibrant as ever, and the electorate and customers are as aware as never before.

The recent results of the state elections in Maharashtra and Haryana have come as a surprise to most of us, as we are used to ‘one-sided’ contests. However, what is of interest is specific cues that businesses can take from the electoral process and its outcome.

1. Give a good fight, it is no point blaming the pitch, referee or the weather:

The mixed results lay to rest the continuous chatter around EVMs. The elections have proven that EVM’s are safe, neutral and tamper-proof. The opposition during this election fought back bravely — tired of blackmails, raids, desertions and a directionless central leadership.

As a professional or organisation, we should give our best and perform like a winner. It is no point to blame your competition or regulators or anybody for your failures. In case you lose, pick yourself up and ready yourself for the next fight. Give your best, winning will come your way.

2. People build organisations and not the other way around, respect talent:

In both the states, ex-party independents and rebels have performed amazingly well. Not giving tickets to deserving yet tall candidates who did not ‘cozy’ up to the state and central leadership has misfired. Be it political parties or corporations, once success comes, the genuine performers get left behind, replaced by ‘yes men’ of the bosses. To ensure continuous progress, the best talent needs to be heard, respected and given their due space. Otherwise, sooner or later, such talent will leave to find other viable opportunities and the organisation will learn its lessons the hard way.

The vote share of independents in Maharashtra has touched 23%, which is almost similar to the ruling party’s 25.7%. The five independent MLA’s in Haryana are rebels from the ruling party. So why have genuine leaders who had mass connect been left out? Who has filled the ears of the central committee for ignoring such performers? How often do we find people stationed in the HQ cornering the best top positions while people who are winning customers in faraway hinterlands are left behind? Meritocracy should be imbibed, and sycophants dismissed.

3. Plenty of money or resources are wrong both for business and politics, as it gets misdirected:

The ruling party since the past few years is flush with funds. And it shows in the campaign mode — be it chartered planes or helicopters for even junior leaders to use of state-of-the-art gizmos to the free flow of advertisements. In contrast, the opposition has been starved of funds. However, passion, zeal, and a do or die attitude has resulted in higher seats.

The patriarch of a regional party ageing with illness and a bleeding foot conducted 66 rallies that converted into 54 electoral seats- everybody had written his political obituary. The image where he continues to address the public drenched in the rain has become part of national folklore.

Large organisations with resources get complacent with the belief that pumping money can win customers. Start-ups are an excellent example where limited resources, unlimited passion and drive has resulted in far better results. Similarly, we have seen start-ups flush with funds losing focus or going astray. Be it politics or corporations, often free and relaxed resources (funds & facilities) get misdirected (misused) ultimately harming the larger cause.

4. Brass-tacks matter and performance cannot be permanently hidden through rhetoric and big talk, customers & voters are intelligent:

The past few years have seen two national elections and many state elections being fought on ‘national & patriotic’ issues. ‘Real’ issues like poverty, unemployment, local-level development remained unaddressed. This election has shown that while the voter maybe patient, continuous rhetoric may not bear results. If the ruling party genuinely reached out to voters about the work they had done in their past term and promised course corrections, it would have resulted in empathy.

Brands should tirelessly work towards solving customer pain points and delight them through relevant solutions. And in between, some corporate film, jazzy investor presentations & brand building or the MD getting some global award or travelling to Davos is acceptable. However, if the latter becomes the narrative while the customer issues remain the same, people are intelligent enough to seek course correction or change loyalty. Real problem solving, and customer delight should be paramount to any organisations’ success. Otherwise, the competition will slowly win over.

5. Unprincipled alliances and short-termism can result in permanent damage, ethics & principles are supreme:

The ruling party’s domination at the all India level has seen every other politician flocking to them in the lure of money or position. This election has proven that the electorate has punished most turn-coats and the ruling party has suffered as loyal workers got alienated. The current business scenario holds a similar mirror — be it the BFSI or any other sector, unprincipled conduct and unbridled ambition of the management has landed many Indian businesses in a soup.

Any decision that is unprincipled or unethical may let you win in the short-term but will start hurting you permanently. Today the ruling party has to live with many turncoats who lost and expect to be rehabilitated. In parallel, the genuine party workers feeling shortchanged will drift away. It is better to grow genuinely or even de-grow than to declare profits and numbers that are fudged or in-genuine — in the long-term, it makes your organisation shallow filled with weak professionals and unsustainable business practices.

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