Nepali Times Asian Paints
Economic Sense
Ballot boxing


Although government elections are still distant, the Nepali business community had their fair share last week as they placed their votes for the country's apex business body. After equating democracy with voting and elections, both professional bodies and all secondary associations too revolve around much discussed elections-be it of the Institute of Chartered Accountants for Nepal (for which there is a writ petition on election rigging pending at court) or the Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI). In the ensuing hullabaloo, what we really need to ponder is whether we are taking this whole business of democracy and voting to a point where we're stifling rather than nurturing our economic institutions.

Corporate culture has embraced the policy of elections with open arms, going so far as to electing directors from public shareholders. The Beed wonders what sticky situations we would run into if, instead of a proper evaluation system, peers or other employees just went ahead and elected the CEO or a department head. Leadership theory, studies and citations tell us that the best leaders are not the ones that are elected.

It is all about demonstrating your success and replicating it. You cannot have someone lead if they haven't proved their mettle. It is important for a leader, in business parlance, to have "eaten his own poop". It is just as important for the CEO of business associations to successfully plan and execute business models .

Rather than having election manifestos in the vein of mainstream politics, there should be a 'laundry list' of things to clean up and goals to achieve that must be tackled head on. Further, the general body of members like shareholders, should have the right through their elected people to take the CEO to task if the performance is substandard.

The Beed has talked ad nauseum about business people doing politics and vice versa. The emphasis this time is more on leaving the new leadership to act as catalyst, changing the way associations function and probably even the way leaders are chosen. In the case of FNCCI, there have been many discussions for an overhaul in the way the body functions but there has been little concrete action taken.

A good business leader leads by devolving power and putting in proper systems that work. Those who do become leaders have an opportunity to prove a point. If they are any good, they will prove their mettle by revolutionising their organisations. Failing that, in two years we'll be subjected to another round of ballot boxing, not to mention the possibility of splinter groups formed by those ignored during the last tenure. The point is, we should look upon these elections as collective business opportunities. The Beed is convinced that we can dig the flailing economy out with good people at the top. And the only way to do that is to use the vote wisely.

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(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)