What Shiv Sena Taught Me About Starting Up

Shiv Sena

This article speaks of the things I learnt about startup leadership, cultivation of culture, brand building and transformational leadership by observing this 47 year old organization and its activities.

Leadership | Positioning | Consistency

Known for his charisma, firebrand style and direct speech, Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackarey was genuine, frank and outright audacious in his speeches- something that resonated with the target audience. Employing analogy- the entrepreneur had identified the target market, shaped the product accordingly, kept the positioning consistent and delivered time and again to the happy customers who wanted more. This resulted in fast growth and firm loyalty.

Hiring | Priorities | Delegation

He was known to handpick individuals to lead from areas, and they grew up to be influential leaders in the political scene. He prioritized the parameters and the choice of the chosen ones was based on the context. Thus, he picked what battle to fight and fielded the most able warrior, which might conflict with a third party’s perspective. Yet, his focus won him battles and strengthened the roots. ‘Shakha Pramukhs’ (Branch Heads) has been a honorary title, thus motivating the leaders, pushing them to perform and deliver on the delegated tasks.

Accessibility

Balasaheb teaches us that a leader needs to take turns from sitting on the throne (as a true King does) to mingling with the masses and smell the fresh grass. This sends a strong message through the ranks that their leader listens to them, showcases empathy and is accessible.

Though the culture might need to overhaul itself with the changing times, it comes at a cost. Humans are wired with inertia and it is difficult to change planes with the entire flock. There are some who might understand and initiate the shift with you. There are some who will meekly follow. There are some who might resist and stay put. Such situations put the leader’s skills and resilience to test. A political scene is no less than a high tension business environment with vested interests and bigger pictures.

Godspeed!

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