Indian Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, is earning accolades from around the world for his vision and strategy to develop India. This article is analysis on the success factors leading to his current image and unprecedented wave of support.
The critical success factors for a political leader are the following
- Vision/Commitment and the ability to communicate these to the masses and energize them
- Pedigree/ Proven track record in a similar role at a lower level
- Rational outlook devoid of emotional incitement and manipulation
Let us now analyze the profile of Modi against each of these success factors and see how he fares.
Sometimes the obvious needs to be stated and this is one such example. Vision is a fundamental prerequisite leading to the success of a political leader. In a county with a staggering population exceeding over a billion, resources are constrained and the stratification of privileges will be diverse. In such a challenging situation, the leader should elevate his vision and harness a positive outlook. He should clearly and unequivocally demonstrate a 100% commitment and powerfully communicate this to the masses. Having a vision without a commitment would be akin to owning the trendiest automobile without any gas. In effect it is stagnant and useless. In addition to filling up the automobile with gas, ergo demonstrate commitment, the value of the automobile should be clearly and simply demonstrated by having people experience the comfort of the ride—in other words, communicate powerfully and effectively. Without such a combination of strategic and tactical endeavors effectively shown by Modi, most leaders end up taking the common people for a ride!
Pedigree refers to the proven track record of the individual in leadership roles leading to the current role. In that sense, a successful PM in India needs to have been a successful CM first. This way, the person has gained sufficient exposure to the complex dynamics of the position and has demonstrated his/her capability to handle these extraneous and internal factors successfully.
An analogy in United States is the office of the Governor, which “equips” a leader to prepare for the role of a President of USA. A successful Governor thus has a smooth transition into the role of a President, as Bill Clinton and many other leaders have amply demonstrated. A Senator on the other hand has not faced a similar terrain and has not been “conditioned” to the rigors and challenges of the role of a President and hence inevitably faces a higher risk of failure. The current pitiful standing of President Obama, an erstwhile Senator, stands as a classic example to prove this point.
In a similar manner, the role of a CM in India is the only one which can provide a perfect “certificate of eligibility” to the most important and powerful role of a PM. Being a CM alone is not enough, Demonstrated success is the key. Modi has convincingly proven his eligibility in this sense, by leading Gujarat to the forefront of development and creating the state as a role model for all others in need of development and progress. On the other hand, India’s ex PM, Shri Manmohan Singh has clearly proven the false positive. In otherwords, he was a great Finance Minister, but was totally unsuccessful as a Prime Minister in everyone’s opinion. This failure was mainly due to his lack of pedigree, or demonstrated success in the role of a CM, prior to taking on the coveted role. For those who chose to argue that Manmohan’s failure was more due to the looming power of Sonia Gandhi, please note that these are the types of extraneous and internal factors that successful leaders learn to deal with. Shri P.V.Narasimha Rao, as a PM , faced identical pressures and rode over the troubled waters precisely because he mastered the art of dealing with these constraints as a CM. Pedigree matters completely and it is best seen as a prerequisite rather than be an attribute as a postmortem analysis.
A Leader focusses on his job and grows on his stature by his results. A politician on the other hand tries to grow taller by dwarfing his opponents with insidious comments and allegations. Modi has shown that he is a leader by showing his focus on the tasks at hand and keeping his hands clean by abstaining from mudslinging. He is not leaning on religion and emotional attachments—Instead he is providing a rational purpose to his people. His mantra has been “ I did this—see how successful it was—now come partner with me”. Such is the power of his honest speeches that journalists in NewYork have termed Madison square garden as “Modi “son garden. In the speech at NY, he did not waste his time or others by playing to the egos of the senior leaders. His rhetoric was “This is what Gandhi did for us, now what did we do for Gandhi.” This simple and elegant question connected his vision and positive action oriented outlook to all sections of people.
As we reflect on the past two decades, Modi’s BJP has come a long way. From a members tally of 2 seats to 300+ seats, a feat that it made on its own without the need for support and “coalitions” which only lead to collisions. On the other end of the spectrum is the dismal picture of the Congress party, which fell in disgrace from a towering 400+ Lok sabha membership to a dwindling 44. Just as good leaders grow on their own merit, so do bad politicians fail at their own expense and not because of skilful Machiavellian tactics of the opposition.
With a very positive rating on all these critical success factors, it is a safe bet that Modi will continue to charge forward and realize his vision for India. His priority in meeting with foreign dignitaries on their own land is paying rich dividends by opening up thousands of doors for bilateral trade and business opportunities. Several times, it is just the very fact that the PM of the world’s largest democracy is meeting personally that causes rigid stances to thaw and positive relationships to start afresh. Attendance at his meetings have exceeded expectations with all venues filled excess of capacity and the response across all sections of people speaks volumes of his communication skills.
Namo has arrived and India’s new exciting phase has taken off.