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Case Study on Team Building - BJP's UP Performance

It is quite possible for us to find ourselves ending up at help of a team which is lacking morale, has been discounted heavily and does not believe in itself. This is toughest challenge any team lead or manager may find himself in. Unless the team comes together, no matter how easy the task at hand is, it is going to be really difficult to achieve the goal. We recently saw a similar situation during the General Elections in 2014

Uttar Pradesh is a state which was traditionally a BJP stronghold and formed a foundation for the party’s performance during any elections. The party had been in power in state government for a number of times. However, for some years now the state unit of the party has been in shambles and the cadre had simply lost hope. The party was engulfed with heavy infighting with no consensus on a leader, they were away from power for long time and the central leadership did not show a serious intent to pull back the party in a state where from once having over 58 seats the performance came down to 10. Infact in last assembly elections they managed only about 15% of the vote share. It was this situation when the party realized that their aim to gain power in Center, the Mission 272+ and making the Gujarat CM a PM of India could not happen if they did not clinch the fancy of voter in this state which had 80 crucial seats. It was then that Narendra Modi decided to earmark this responsibility of rejuvenating the party in the state to his most trusted aide – Amit Shah. And we all now know the results – BJP manages over 40% vote share in 4 cornered elections, wins 71 seats out of 80 and decimates all the local sartrups to simply retaining their family seats at best.

Broadly based on various media interviews of party leaders and other feedback from my friends make me believe that following four were the building blocks which led to such a brilliant performance. The first task was to energize the team and build a strategy based on requirements of the state. And this is what they did.

A common goal

The first thing which a team needs to start with is a common goal – a goal in which each team member believes in and sincerely likes to achieve. This common goal here was the dream of making NaMo, the Prime Minister of India. The cadre believed that their PM candidate had real potential to win the election and would be worth the post. They were willing to work hard to the limits of their extent for this guy and that became a common bonding ground for them.

A visible leader to run affairs

The party was suffering from infighting where each was his leader and wanted to run the affairs of the party on their whims. All that this did was to create a state of confusion in the party and led to disillusioned cadre. However a team always needs a leader – one who is ready to listen to each view but then takes a decision which is binding on the entire party. Amit Shah became this leader with undisputed knowledge in cadre that he had ears of NaMo. Though he landed in the state from outside, he had a clear mandate and full autonomy. He toured the state extensively and understood the environment. And then was ready to take decisions and own them – like a true leader.

Organizing the team and delegation of work

Success of the team depends on its organization into sub-units with each having clear mandate and goals. This was exactly what Amit Shah did in UP. Booth level committees were made to handle the requirements of each local booth. Each committee had 10 members with diverse background and deep roots in the society. Apart from this there was a 20 youth team for each youth which was responsible to reach each house in the booth area and spread the message. These teams were also responsible to get voters to the booth on Election Day and cast their vote, preferably for BJP.

Incentivizing cadre

Each party member works to certain end like any other team. If the members see limited opportunity for them to gain from the effort, the incentive is hardly there. They know that getting to top positions is limited and distant dream. What they look forward for are low hanging fruits – some recognition and appreciation for the work. In terms of BJP, this was a challenge as the party had not been contesting local – panchayat and municipal – elections and hence the potential opportunities for cadre were not there. Amit Shah realized this and assured the cadre that from now the party would fight each small-big election in the state with equal vigor and this showed the leadership commitment to the state party unit.

Commitment to overcome challenges

The team needs to see that their leader understands the requirements for achieving their goals and is committed to overcoming the challenges. One of the foremost challenges the UP’s state unit of BJP had always faced was to take their message to the electorate. Traditionally leaders used to take the messages through rallies. However this was limited in reach because of time restraints. Media was another popular way for spreading the message. However with UP the challenge came from more than one-third of the state being a black zone with no reach of electronic or print media. Apart from using the tradition methods, Amit Shah decided to take a different approach. BJP used over 400 vans equipped with audio-visual setup which toured entire state to take the message of NaMo to the common man. This way each village was almost touched for almost two times during the 7 months of election campaign.

So we see that the right approach and structural components can rejuvenate any team and make it deliver the required results. The aim of post was not to express my political views but I don’t see any harm in taking lessons from any happenings around us and this definitely is a worth studying even in history of Indian Politics.

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