Ideas

Love Him Or Loathe Him, You Can’t Ignore These 15 Management Lessons From Narendra Modi 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Sushil Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • If it takes a prime minister to inspire you and take control of your life, then here is just the article for you.

Every successful person has a life lesson to offer us. Love him or hate him, Prime Minister Modi’s life offers many lessons that we could follow in our daily lives. Today being his birthday, it is an opportune time to reflect upon some of those:

1. Work ethic

If there is one particular trait we could imbibe in our lives, it should be the incredible work ethic of PM Modi that runs 16-18 hours every day, 365 days a year. No holidays. He plans his long trips abroad such that even fuel stopovers feature a meeting in that particular country. If we work with such passion and drive, lady luck will be forced to smile at us at some point.

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2. Focus on the present

PM Modi does not do things half-heartedly. The ten minutes he has given you is totally your time. He does not get distracted. Many of us do a half-baked job in the name of multi-tasking.  We could learn spending “quality time” with colleagues and family-members by being in the moment and being involved when we are with them.

3. Controlling the controllable

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The Prime Minister gives an image of being totally in control. He steers a disciplined ship. In a field like politics that is at the mercy of so many uncontrollable “Acts of God”, it is pertinent to keep a tight leash on the personnel you choose and the activities of your team. From the choice of the candidate to become President of India to keeping vigil and monitoring performance of his ministers, he avoids unnecessary problems.

4. Attention to detail

This is an era of “Wikipedia generalists”. General knowledge can come in handy only to a certain point. What actually helps is having a robust sense of the ground realities. PM Modi, in his long years in public life has looked at social problems by working at the grass-roots level. It is evident in his speeches. The idea of neem-coated urea or the conceptualising of Ujjwala yojana are borne out of attention to detail.

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5. Top down management

These days management books talk about empowering teams and decentralisation of responsibilities. But PM Modi has turned the concept upside down. His mantra seems to be a strong Prime Minister’s Office where the buck stops. His relentless work ethic mitigates the risk of such an approach. It also prevents gaffes from subordinates in the organization.

6. Personal growth

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PM Modi’s Yoga Day videos made waves. It is remarkable that such a busy man manages to do a variety of physical activities including Yoga every day. US President Barack Obama hit the gym everyday at 6 AM. So what is our excuse? His disciplined personal habits, groomed through his days in the RSS, have imbibed in him the spiritual and mental prowess that is the basis of his unceasing energy and mental fortitude.

7. Presentation

“Presentation is key – Master it”, is a chapter in PM Modi’s latest book “Exam Warriors”. PM Modi realises that presentation is not gimmickry, but has the power to create change. It has underpinnings in deep psychology that human beings are spurred to action through beautiful and thoughtful presentations. His personal dress sense gives the impression of a modern leader. His choice of brand savvy senior bureaucrat Amitabh Kant to lead a new institution and branding exercise such as “Make in India” are examples of his emphasis on presentation.

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8. Relentlessness

“Swacch Bharat” campaign is a shining example of relentlessness. In a vast country like India where personal and societal hygiene are treated almost with disdain, PM Modi embarked on this campaign in 2014. He knew it needed a multi-year, multi-stakeholder approach to create behavioural change. Mindless critics wanted India to be like Singapore in a few months. But Modi persists by enlisting support of celebrities, appreciating grassroots work and pushing the government into building crores of toilets.

9. Up to date with technology

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PM Modi turns 68 today. How many 60+ year olds in your personal lives are comfortable with the internet or the smart phone? A very few, I would assume.  Most of our political leaders that come from grassroots hardly have the mind-set to adopt technology with such ease. PM Modi is a trailblazer who has made other political leaders wanting to emulate him. The Lok Sabha campaign of 2014 was the best run political campaign in the history of India mostly due to the vast adaptation of technology. The upcoming campaign will only set new trends.

10. Setting an example

As the saying goes, “Example is better than percept”. Instead of asking fellow leaders to do more rallies, PM Modi sets a scorching pace during election time addressing even upto five rallies a day. He draws upon his vast wellspring of mental strength go through a punishing schedule and still be phlegmatic at the end of the day. It takes something special go on an official trip to the US during Navaratra and still maintain a fast.

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11. Communication

PM Modi will rank among the best orators India has produced. The soaring ideas, the beautiful imagery, the call to action, the brimming patriotism are his hallmarks. But hardly do people realise that his first language is Gujarati. And if one goes to his earlier speeches one could see how far he has come in delivering stunning orations. Practice and persistence are the magic wands. The need to be inspirational and effective communicators has become indispensable for leaders whether in public or corporate careers.

12. Information and feedback

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Other than the formal structures of government and party, PM Modi has cultivated many channels for getting on the ground information. This includes trusted friends, journalists, businessmen, spiritual gurus, RSS volunteers, celebrities, social media and public interactions. He is able to tweak policies and even his speeches based on such bottom-up information.  He quickly dropped “mitron” from his speech after it was parodied on social media. In a Mann ki Baat programme, he recalled how he has reduced the length of his speeches based on feedback.

13. Trusting yourself

Many leaders often retreat to listening to bureaucrats and advisers after reaching high office. But PM Modi has a keen understanding of issues and supports it with his long years of field experience and the courage of conviction. Many of this government’s flagship projects – Jan Dhan, Ujjwala, demonetisation, Ayushman Bharat – to name a few, have come out of his sense of what society wants.

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14. Play on the front foot

In politics, many times people are prone to self-doubt at the slightest of criticism and start playing defensively. Just like a predator, the opposition pounces on you when it smells fear. In all the election campaigns since 2014, the BJP goes with the intention of getting two-thirds majority, not just winning. A few years ago opposition leaders dismissed the economic rebound as “lucky” due to the low global oil prices.  While others would have stayed silent, PM Modi retorted back by asking, “Why are you are envying my luck? Do you want an unlucky PM?” Playing on the front foot demonstrates strength and is a significant competitive advantage.

15. Staying positive

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PM Modi used to recall his early days in politics when the party hardly won but still celebrated small milestones.  Staying positive during difficult times is easier said than done. It might seem distant memory, but the constant hounding of him when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat by the media and the Congress party would have felled a lesser person. Indomitable self-belief, projecting a positive outlook and staying focussed through the vicissitudes of life is vital for long term success. His supporters will do well to stay positive and to not succumb to diffidence in the upcoming elections.

We would like to hear about the lesson you have learnt from Prime Minister Modi that you have incorporated in your personal life. Please write to us in the comments section.

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