6 Lessons Startup CEOs Can Learn From Narendra Modi’s Massive Win

After following and analyzing Modi’s political campaign closely, I discovered 6 things that every startup CEO can learn from his success


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The world has witnessed the biggest democratic election in human history where 830 million participated over an 8-week schedule. Narendra Modi, the incumbent Prime Minister of India, won a majority in India’s parliament — the second incumbent PM to have achieved this in the past 70 years.

After following and analyzing Modi’s political campaign closely, I discovered 6 things that every startup CEO can learn from his success. 

Have a Partner (Co-founder)

Throughout Modi’s political career, he formed a close and powerful relationship with Amit Shah. Working together, Modi and Shah complemented each other — Modi running the government and Shah running the BJP’s organization of 100 million members. If each had worked alone, perhaps this historic landslide victory would never have occurred.

Lesson #1 takeaway: Have a strong partner (co-founder) who complements your strengths. A great partner will help you improve the execution of your vision and increase your chances of success.

Think Long Term and Act Accordingly

When Modi won the majority in 2014, he and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) commenced a laser-like focus on winning the 2019 election. From day one, Modi had a clear vision and execution plan on how to achieve this. From his first speech, Modi focused on core vote banks of the opposition Congress Party. Addressing the poor populace in rural areas, Modi ensured them that he had enough welfare programs running to serve their segment of the vote bank. By thinking ahead and addressing concerns before they were asked of him, Modi was able to win.

Lesson #2 takeaway: As a startup CEO, you should think long-term and align your execution accordingly. The moment you hit a milestone, laser-focus on your next milestone.

Execution Leads to Success

Most of Modi’s welfare schemes and policies were not new. However, his execution proved to be far more superior than his predecessors. His top schemes included Bank Accounts for Everyone; Electrification; Clean India; LPG Distribution; Aadhar Implementation; Ujwala Yojana; Benami Sampati Act; Toilet Construction. All of these ideas have been there for a few decades, but Modi executed these so successfully that it made a huge difference.

Lesson #3 takeaway: Fundamentally, execution is the key to success. Ideas are good but won’t move the needles. You can always use existing ideas, but be more creative in execution to drive phenomenal results.

Know Your Customers

Modi’s customers are 830 million Indian voters. His customer base is one of the world’s most diverse bases. He and his team invest a lot to understand various segments, apply data-driven strategies, and connect directly with millions of BJP workers. Modi invested significant time when communicating with people through monthly Man Ki Baat and other programs.

Lesson #4 takeaway: Startup CEOs should invest in connecting with their customers, employees, and partners directly. Have strong communication strategies, conduct in-person meetings, and deploy other methodology to gather true feedback so you can improve your execution.

Clarity in Message and Vision

This is the very core of leadership. Modi has done an amazing job in articulating his message and vision very clearly to over 1.3 billion people. He understands his audience well, does his research, and communicates it in a simple language that triggers emotions and builds a following. In short, the power of messaging and clarity of vision are the two most critical aspects of success.

Lesson #5 takeaway: Startup CEOs don’t need to message to 1.3 billion people, but definitely CEOs should target a large audience of customers, partners, and talent. Just a little research on Modi’s communication methodology and strategy can show you quite a lot.

Know Your Weaknesses and Opportunities

In the early part of his campaign, Modi feared that his success could not be duplicated in the northern states. Since these states — Bengal, Odisha, Kerala, and the North East — send more MPs to parliament than any others, the pressure was on. However, Modi clearly saw this as a big opportunity instead of an obstacle. In fact, Modi had the clarity to invest in these states as early as 2014. Luckily, Modi did indeed repeat his success in these states, which gave him additional seats this time.

Lesson #6 takeaway: For every startup, there are weaknesses and opportunities. However, having clarity on them from the beginning allows you to drive the desired results. This is perhaps the greatest lesson that startup CEOs can learn from Narendra Modi’s historic win.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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