We are all fresh from the recent 5 state elections in India where all the states who had significant regional leadership presence won the mandate to govern the state for the next 5 years. There were sustained efforts from National Leaders across the rank and file of various parties that came to campaign for the state candidates, but at the end of it all – astute, hard-working and grounded regional leaders won it for their parties and people. The voter trusted the local leadership and was witness to a lot of the work done by them or even went by the promise of work to be undertaken by them. National narratives certainly played their part, but what needs to keep in mind was the strong connection that the regional leaders could bring home to their advantage, serenaded their way to victory. And each of these Regional Leaders will certainly play an important role at the National level, be it in politics, governance, or policies.

What are the Leadership Lessons we have here?

How do this experience and learning get extrapolated in our daily lives as leaders serving an organisation and managing teams that are multi-locational, diverse, differently skilled, yet we aspire to similar outcomes as planned in our board rooms or let’s be practical and say the virtual conference rooms these days!

I have tried to share my perspectives from this great Indian electoral system and its lessons for us as Corporate Leaders

1. Regional knowledge and presence – HELPS

As an organisation how effectively are we staying glued to the local level realities in every market and region? How are our National leaders well connected and engaged with the regional/local leadership in understanding the customer needs, trends, and competitive responses in those markets? These are visible and learned from a series of analytics that progresses into qualitative discussions with them on a regular basis. These days going into the markets or trenches let’s say is difficult, but once the pandemic is better controlled and we are vaccinated, it is an ideal opportunity to spend time there on a regular basis. That will put us in a position of knowledge and relevant conviction to have meaningful conversations.

2. A face that one can relate to and be accessible – ASSURES

There is no denying that the regional teams will relate quickly to their leaders and feel more comfortable connecting. These regional leaders are always more accessible than the National ones for any quick fixes as well as celebratory moments. How do we empower and make them feel important is a significant step in grooming them and also making them more accountable? Organisations that operate in a centralised fashion can often be seen to lose that valuable time in getting things moving faster. Another reason why local companies are more agile and customer-focused in their models. The job of the management is to create these worthy regional heads who can in due course of time look up to larger geographies as a growth agenda. After all our present PM was a successful regional leader!

 3. Local-level realities and sensitivities – MATTERS

Every HQ or town in India has its own story, culture, and ethnic that needs to be kept in mind. A strong regional leader senses this and works effectively to bind all these deftly into the National strategy. The regional leader is often the spokesperson to the HO on these fronts and assists them in crafting tailor-made tactics for execution in their markets. The key here is to engage and encourage the Regional leader to reach out to the HO proactively with things that can create a significant impact in their regions. One more interesting piece of the puzzle is what kind of players you want in your teams here. A compelling case to sometimes keep the HO jargons and requirements dovetailed into the local level availability of talent that can seemingly have the potential to be groomed, may not be in the first instance.

(Image courtesy: shutterstock.com)

4. Acknowledging grass-root level concerns – ENGAGES

Who doesn’t like a good quality conversation around issues and their hopeful resolutions? The best part is that even if there have been instances of no solutions found, the fact that the National Leadership hears out the local level concerns is worthy enough. It energises the teams across and they step forward using their discretionary efforts at all times. National leaders along with Regional heads who adopt these connect and correct interfaces, often land up seeing a charged-up team, ready to battle out any concerns faced. Staying connected across the rank and file of the organisation, listening to the employees is an important trait of being a great leader – regional or national.

5. Building the blocks bottom-up to the top – TRIUMPHS

Once the base is strong, the foundation is bound to withhold most shocks. This is exactly what is expected for any organisation that wishes to grow sustainably. During an unpredictable period, such as this pandemic it pays to be developing all the levels in an organisation. Ideas are generated from anyone who is connected to the customers pain points. And this is where the advantage lies on the front liners and line managers. They are the closest to the customers and hence the better the Regional leader taps this, we will find ourselves never looking out of sorts when something like this hits us. Strengthening the Regional and Area Managers in an organisation is the best investment that an organisation can do.

After all your next National Head will make their way up from here😊

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We at Workplace Dynamics (connect@workplacedynamics.in) have been engaged by companies to help support their various levels of leaders through a series of development workshops curated exclusively for them. The mandate is to recognise where they stand present, assess the internal strength and finally create programs that facilitates a growth mindset across the organisation for the impact to be felt uniformly. Reach out to me or the email above id if this is something you wish to drive in your organisations as well.

Workplace Dynamics is a Management Consulting and Leadership Development Company.

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