Friday, September 5, 2014


11 Leadership Lessons from Narendra Modi for Corporate India
T. V. Rao

In the last 100 days Indian Prime Minister Modi has done a number of things that have shown what true leadership is and how to win more hearts as a leader. I wish to draw the following lessons from him:

1. Celebrate Leadership Change by Inviting your neighbors to participate in celebrations. Top level leadership changes should be celebrated ceremonially by inviting your neighboring organizations in the same city or elsewhere. Events should be organized internally  to welcome your new team and introducing them to all the members of the organization through web casts, video-casts and the like. Technology facilitates the same. Use technology for such celebrations. Involve the whole organization. 

2. Visit your neighbors irrespective of whether they are your customers or suppliers or indifferent people. When you take over as a CEO win the hearts of your neighboring organizations by visiting them and learning from them and offering collaboration. This requires your understanding them and their strengths and needs. Good relations with neighbors may go a long way in building good-will, peace and self confidence.

3. Plan and prepare for your trips to other organizations and countries to learn from them and show respect for their culture. Visiting schools, historical places,  and participating in various functions both in Nepal, Bhutan and in Japan Modi has demonstrated many things. The way the visit was planned and the right schedule was prepared is a remarkable thing. Plan your visit to other organizations or countries by finding out the most important and strategic places to visit, groups to interact and lessons to learn back home. For example you may meet new era employees (Gen Y) when you visit another organization or address a Chamber of Commerce meeting or a professional body. Learn, learn and learn. 

4. Gift small things but right things that talk about your culture and values. Gifting Gita is a  good gesture. It is also the Japanese way of Giving small mementoes that make a big difference. Rarely we gift books and such documents. We still aim at big (in size perhaps) gifts. I still remember when some visitors from Hungary came to visit BEML in 1978 they met groups and gifted their annual reports and picture books on their country and not any big handicrafts etc. Disseminate things that you are proud of while visiting others and receive the same from them. You can build on each others' strengths.

5. Foster collaboration with powerful people and get them to your side by opening your doors and showing your willingness to be influenced. The collaboration being fostered with Japan and the way it is being fostered indicates the same. 

6. Keep away from controversies. In his address to teachers and student community on 5th September he mentioned that he has become very sensitive to what he says, as he is worried that some times, what he says may create issues or problems. That is the only difference he found as PM and CM. He cannot take liberties as PM as much as he did while he was CM. I witnessed his awareness of this when he mentioned during our discussion on 360 Degree Feedback several years ago while he was CM. He said some times he speaks his heart and makes comments from the heart and immediately realizes that it has not gone well - the way he intended. As PM he is more cautious. I have seen CEOs making many comments, speaking from their heart. Some times it spins off rumors as many people are waiting to give interpretation to what the CEO says, the way they like him/her to be projected than what he really is or feels. CEOs should be sensitive to the impact they make at the same time they should be expressive.

7. Be proud of your country and culture when outside and focus on its issues and problems when inside. The Independence day speech is filled with priorities of the nation. The priorities focussed on the mental  state of the nation and the intellectual capital of the nation. CEOs should focus on the internal needs of the company to make it stronger and attack fundamental value and cultural changes required.   PM's independence speech has a lot of reflections for every citizen. CEOs should address such issue than mere financial and market priorities.  

8. Mix with your people and particularly the young ones in the making, as future managers of your company. By choosing to talk with the children and parents and answering their questions in a open and frank way he has won the hearts of the most important section of the society: the children. This is  preparing the country for the future. CEOs should periodically meet all their new employees and future managers in large numbers and interact with them. That is a good way to inspire them and acculturate them with the strong points of the organization.

9. Encourage questions from your employees in open houses and  share your views freely and frankly. The openness shown in the Teachers day address by the PM and the spontaneity in his answers has a lesson: When addressing your own future leaders speak from the heart and focus on long term values and lessons. Also create some lighter moments by frankly sharing your own life stories. 

10. Work hard, harder and harder. PM has made it clear that he works hard and suggested to all his civil servants and others that he will  always work an hour more than them. If you work for 11 hours I will work  for 12 etc. Set an example for others by your own behavior. Reflect about your experiences and share them with others. When a students questioned the PM- which one does he value more "Education or Experience"?, he answered that "experience without education is direction less and both have their own place". 

11. Do not give up the habit of reading and reading outside your syllabus. Most CEOs don't read nor do they encourage their line mangers to read. Line managers also have given up reading. Having good reading habits is essential for growth. I wish corporations gift books and periodicals to their managers and also distribute them as monthly incentives for good work. For example L&T IDPL distributes "Perfect Professional" magazine for their line managers and expects them to present lessons periodically in their OD seminars. This magazine has many interesting life sharing and shirt articles on issues like Delegation, Team Work, Happiness at work, Managing your Boss, Leadership et. and shares experiences of experienced line managers (see: Many interesting books can be ordered from flip or

1 comment:

Gulu Balani said...

In a fast changing world, knowledge is the differentiator. Hence, Dr Rao's advice of reading is worth following, because that is the only way one can keep abreast of the changing trends enveloping our lives.