News: Management lessons for managers from Pakistan's election


Management lessons for managers from Pakistan's election

Indian managers and CEOs will do well to take some lessons from our neighbour's historical election

The hallmark of a leader lies in the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and to evolve, be it in the corporate world or a democracy


It is imperative for a manager/leader to learn from previous mistakes. Doing it wrong once is forgiven, but committing the same mistake twice would be catastrophic


By now, most of you would have read about the unprecedented historical mandate that Pakistan’s people have handed over. What happened in Islamabad is nothing short of a miracle. For the first time, a government in Pakistan completed its full tenure of five years and is handing over the power to another democratically-elected government.

In the case of two-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, it has probably been the biggest roller coaster ride ever. After being on top of power in the 1990s, Sharif was ousted by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999 in a military coup. Sharif was first thrown in jail, and later pushed into exile for seven years. Many thought his political career was finished. Now, in an astonishing turn of history, Sharif is set to become Pakistan’s first-ever third-time Prime Minister, while his once powerful nemesis Musharraf is under arrest and possibly facing trial.

So, you are probably wondering how Nawaz Sharif’s fight in Pakistan’s elections has any resemblance to managers and CEOs in India. Well, for the most part, they can derive couple of lessons from one of the most dramatic elections in Pakistan. They are:     

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When Nawaz Sharif was removed from power in 1999, many Pakistanis expressed great relief, describing him as corrupt, incompetent and power hungry. By overlooking that history and giving him such a strong mandate in this weekend's elections, Pakistanis have expressed their confidence that Sharif is now an older and wiser politician, the BBC reported.

The last time he lived in Prime Minster's House, in the late 1990s, his main objective was to see off anyone who challenged his authority. Frustrated by opposition in the parliament, he tried to pass a constitutional amendment that would have enabled him to enforce Sharia law, the BBC report said.

During his last stint in power, Sharif was capable of destructive confrontations with not just the army, but also rival politicians and critical journalists, who were hurled into dark cells, a TIME report said. Retired lieutenant general Talat Masood, an analyst, said that Sharif has matured over the years. “The time in exile has given him time to reflect and learn.”

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Sharif will try to establish a new relationship with Pakistan’s powerful generals, TIME reported. Although he emerged as a protégé of Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s longest serving dictator, he ended up clashing with five successive army chiefs until he was ultimately ousted by Musharraf, the report said. Sharif was sharply critical of the army’s role in politics during Musharraf’s final years, but has cooled his rhetoric since.

Employees and managers are often encouraged to leverage their strengths. How you play your strengths will also defines your strategy and set the tone for the rest of the year. 

A steel tycoon-cum-politician, Sharif's campaign has focused a lot on the economy. Pakistan ranks 146th out of 186 countries in the United Nations' human development index, a measure of living standards, health and education.

Under the slogan “Strong Economy - Strong Pakistan”, Sharif seems to have successfully projected his image as a flag-bearer for private industry and entrepreneurship. Sharif had taken steps to liberalise the economy during his time in office in the 1990s. Though his economic credentials seems to be fine, he is seen as someone who is soft on the Pakistani Taliban after his calls for talks rather than a military onslaught, an NDTV report said.

Nawaz Sharif has a record of delivering high-profile infrastructure projects. The motorway between Islamabad and Lahore is one of his proudest achievements, a BBC report said. This time he is promising a bullet train between Karachi and Peshawar.

As well as his ability to think big, Sharif's appeal lies in his conservative values and Punjabi identity. Punjab is the richest and most populous province in Pakistan, and has over half the seats in the National Assembly. 



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