Uddhav Thackeray As A Leader Through The HR Lens

Uddhav Thackeray As A Leader Through The HR Lens

“How does this Uddhav Thackeray the leader, look from your HR eyes?” Lulu, my parrot, was watching TV along with me. Trust him to ask deep questions.

“Oh! Marathi TV channels are excitedly covering the story of lieutenants deserting him and Shiv Sena, his political party, repeating the same statement in a hundred different ways. Reminds me of people chanting Vishnu-Sahasranam, Lulu!”

“That analogy is wrong, chanting Vishnu-sahasranam gives people some peace of mind. News of break-up does not. And I am really happy that you thought of Vishnu-sahasranam and not of Hanuman Chalisa. Ha ha! Now please answer my question – What do you make of this Uddhav Thackeray saga? He is hurt by their betrayal.”

“Yes, he is making emotional statements. But let me think the entire episode from HR lens. Two themes emerge, and those are the obvious ones; Leadership and Conflict Management.

“Yes, and there is the third – it is of succession. And I understand why you missed it; Indians believe in nepotism, you see it in many business houses, in politics as well as in Bollywood. They do not hand over the baton to the deserving and capable. Kangana Ranaut says it too” Lulu winked at me in Rahul Gandhi style.”

“Oh, forget Kangana. Yes, succession is an issue because the entry of Aditya Thackeray who is positioned as the obvious successor to Uddhav has made a difference to the relationship between Uddhav and his followers.”

“There was another aspect of succession; I am talking about how Uddhav succeeded his father. He demanded the same respect, he wanted the Chief Minister to meet him at his residence Matoshree, he used the same aggressive language – at least in the initial days, do you get me?”

“I think I get you; aren’t you saying that he copied his father, Balasaheb Thackeray and it took him long time to evolve as a leader in his own way?”

Lonely is the way

“On the dot! Initially. When people who have seen the original begin to see a copy, they move away. This could be one reason why many sons of actors have failed to make a mark; Abhishek Bachchan is one such example.”

“What should he have done?”

“The successor has to have advisors who will help him rejuvenate the organization. He has to recast a few outdated policies, may be adopt new strategies, and get a set of competent new advisors. This is the issue of Governance Structure. Many get it wrong. There is a young new generation which is having access to internet and information on any subject. Several children of the old generation Sainiks are now techies in the USA or Europe. The myopic coterie of Uddhav did not help him understand the emerging concerns and trends. He lost touch with the grassroot level people and their concerns.”

“It must be really tough being a successor to a tall figure like Balasaheb.”

“That’s true. And that is why several ‘family managed’ enterprises sink like Titanic when the successor, I mean the second-generation entrepreneur takes over. They think they are invincible and do not realise what hit them like Captain Smith of Titanic.”

“Somehow, this analogy of Titanic seems to fit well! What’s your take on the Leadership role?”

“One of the important things a leader has to do is to ‘Master the Context.’ A leader must ‘master the context’ as Warren Bennis says. There was a hue and cry about ‘inclusion’ not being the way of life, about institutions being under attack. Uddhav sadly failed to realize the expectations of people from him. And I have cited only two.”

“True. We need leaders who will be guides and torch-bearers. That was the biggest expectation from Uddhav when he took over Shiv Sena.”

“What would Uddhav be remembered for as the head of Shiv Sena?”

“That’s a difficult question to answer.”

Lulu My Parrot

“When it came to handling the conflict with the dissidents, Uddhav shifted between giving up and fighting back. That kind of response does not enthuse followers and infuse confidence.”

“True. People were puzzled by his response. Don’t you think he was a reluctant leader? Or he ought not to have taken up the Chieftain’s role?”

“That is difficult to decide. In that situation many would have taken up the role. Rajiv Gandhi did, again not with much success.”

“There seems to be something common. The question is why do people accept high position jobs when they are not cut out for it? Is it that they do not know themselves?”

“Is it that they do not know themselves? Hmmm …. I don’t have an answer. It feels sad to watch collapse of an organization. Why am I remembering the Arnold H. Glasow’s quote – ‘The trouble with the future is that it usually arrives before we’re ready for it?’” Lulu looked at me, I nodded my head in agreement.

Vivek S Patwardhan

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” / Read more Lulu blogs in my book ‘The Lulu Duologues’