Tea Seller And Five Lessons Of Good Governance

Under the roof of a brand like Confident Governance, whenever we see Global Developments that emphasize successful Governance, we like to write about it. While I love to drink tea, the title of this post is very relevant as you shall see. We would like to discuss the recently concluded 2014 election in the World’s largest democracy, India. What does this have to do with Governance and Tea Drinking ? Read on to find the answer….

This was the largest democratic election in mankind’s history so far. There were 815 million voters right from the Indian Ocean in South to Ladakh and Leh in Himalayas, making it the largest ever election without a single untoward incident. See the infographic to understand the hugeness of these figures.




In a region frayed with petty politics and small-minded issues no leader can successfully drive the agenda of growth. Yet an entrepreneurial son of a tea seller who grew up selling tea at Railway station in a village in India in his father’s small business emerged as the leader of largest Democracy in the world. The amazing thing is that India’s new Prime Minister Mr. Modi completed this amazing journey of his personal career from a poor Tea Selling boy to Prime Minister solely focusing on only one main theme “Good Governance is Good for Growth”. Good Governance gets lost in Government many times but the success of Mr. Modi piqued my curiosity to peek deeper into his evolution and research on why Governance is the driver for Growth and what lessons can normal Boards and Business leaders take from his story on important matters of Management and Leadership.
He was born as a poor, underprivileged son of a tea-seller in a rural town of Vadnagar, where he used to sell “chai” (tea) to passengers at the local train station. From those earlier days and many years of struggle , he rose through India’s political process to become the disciplined and successful Chief Minister of Gujarat, unarguably the most business friendly and prosperous State in India.

Indian farmers, service men, business folks and majority of the voters of all varieties and stripes selected Good Governance over petty politics. His Governance  can be an inspiration for any enterprise. Let’s have a look at the five key reasons why a humble entrepreneurial boy who started out helping his father selling tea now can teach success of Good Governance to the Board of Directors

1) Hard Work and Vision

As Benjamin Franklin said “Vision without implementation is Hallucination”. So for effective Governance, foresight has to be complemented with effective and creative implementation. Mr. Modi demonstrated this in his tenure as Chief Minister for one of the most Business friendly state in India. Any company has to be technically competent in order to survive a cohort of massive competition. Moreover the company should be focused towards ensuring client satisfaction with the product/service delivered.
A company should also continuously strive to develop a complementary professional eco-system (internally and externally). All of this is attained through razor-sharp focus and untiring hard work. Mr Modi reportedly has never taken an official vacation in last decade as a Chief Minister Of Gujarat – that’s a tall order but certainly the ethos of hard work and the Tone at the top comes through.

2)  Accountability starts at top

Governance starts at the top when leaders walk the walk instead of talking the talk. Modi has done this by making himself and his office of PMO accountable by removing lot of uncertainties in decision-making. This is not novel in corporate world but is unheard of when it comes to governing a country of India’s dimension. This solidifies novel approach towards governance where the CEO/CFO and the board have more transparency and decision-making clarity over policy matters. This is also what all entrepreneurs should learn, to take responsibility for each and every corporate decision and trying and improving rather than getting killed by “Paralysis by Analysis” . The board, the CEO/CFO and the senior management should take the charge of embracing, piloting and slowly but surely adopting Emerging Trends and Technologies and other initiatives to enable Growth of their product/service.

3) Metrics and measurement are essential

Mr Modi has proven in his management style that he wants to measure everything. The new government has stated “inflation control” as one of the top priorities of the government, for which various measures like building cold chains, rural electrification, etc…are being enforced. It is obvious from this illustration that metrics and measurement are vital for any organization’s strategy for profit. While in past getting good metrics was a challenge, with onslaught of Big Data and other analytical tools, it is now more that ever easier to measure progress on multiple dimensions of any process. An organization must leverage Emerging Trends and Technologies for getting improved metrics.

Business metrics and performance measures provide dashboard assessment that help in channeling the strategic path of a firm. Metrics must be aligned for appropriate Governance needs such as

  • accountability purposes
  • organizational improvement purposes
  • efficient strategic planning
  • quality improvement and
  • business process re-engineering

The old adage If it Can’t be Measured It’s not done is absolutely the thing to keep in mind here.

4) Creative Resource Allocation

Mr. Modi has leveraged not only existing resources efficiently but he has uncannily used new technology to turn old resources into new channels of effectiveness. Case in point is his election campaign which used Social Media to complement the massive Indian electorate and reach even poor farmers and villagers via cell phones. The number of grass-root Organizers working with Mr. Modi and his man power remained the same though the leverage of new resources in Technology and new Innovations in media enabled unbelievably large Outreach.

This creative resource allocation results into increased efficiency and productivity for any Organization. An Organization should allocate it’s resources in such a way that the work on the idea of “Minimum Input, Maximum Output”.

Effective allocation results in Growth and Success. But many a times it becomes difficult because of the constant struggle of various departments within the company for the limited pool of resources.

Creative Resource Allocation can be done by

  • Conducting an Audit of how the Resources are utilized currently
  • Creating a plan of how to better utilize the Resources
  • Eliminating chances of wastage of Resources

5)  Uniform Transparent Standards

Transparency starts at the top. This is easier said than done, but in past Mr. Modi has demonstrated this as a chief minister.Now as Prime Minister, his cabinet is leveraging new tools and enabling completely transparent online auctions for government contracts, tenders and natural resources,leading into a transparent Governance, which generates more trust from Citizens of the Nation.

In a similar fashion, all enterprises should maintain transparent standards of functioning to develop a healthy atmosphere for the employees as well as the stakeholders. Often times we have seen Boards fail at this when the transparency they desire from the field is not being put in practice in their own Management and Leadership.
Transparency is a vital factor of a healthy Corporate Governance. Today Transparency is taking on a new meaning of a more Comprehensive and Proactive disclosure. Corporate Governance in today’s worldwide milieu has become more complicated and dynamic due to increased regulatory requirements and greater scrutiny thereby creating increased responsibilities for Board of Directors to conform with meticulous Governance principles.

We will keep monitoring progress of Governance in an Emerging Economy like India and more importantly learn lessons continuously from Best Practices around the world. At ConfidentGovernance.com our mission is to “Democratize Governance” Worldwide by making it easier and less complicated so that everyone from Governments to private enterprises and startups can benefit from Good Governance. What we learn from this experience of Mr. Modi is that Good governance is not only Good for business but great for the Customers and Stakeholders, which in Mr. Modi’s case are the Citizens of India. The amazing story here is that 1 billion of world’s approximately 7 billion people chose to focus on Good Governance and Growth in selecting their democratic leader rather than other petty issues. An enterprise who focuses on the above five Key Elements of Good Governance will surely be CONFIDENT to grow by leaps and bounds. Would love to hear your thoughts on the Five Key elements of Good Governance.

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  1 comment for “Tea Seller And Five Lessons Of Good Governance

  1. July 3, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    “If it can’t be measured, It can’t be done” says it all. The story of Mr. Modi is truly inspirational and proves that Good Governance is a vital factor to make an Organization and in his case, an entire country successful.

    Liked by 1 person

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