Whether it be a sports team, a classroom, a business or a country a leader can have a massive impact on the organisation.
Imran Khan led Pakistan’s cricket team to winning the Cricket World Cup in 1992. To Pakistani sports fans he was the equivalent of Michael Jordan, David Beckham and Tiger Woods combined.
Pakistani’s are crazy for cricket and so having someone that was considered one of the best in the world made him a local and international hero.
After his cricket career Imran Khan got involved in politics and formed Tehreek-e-Insaf(Movement for Justice) hoping that his skills in leading the country’s cricket team can also be used to lead the country’s government.
Leadership is transferrable and there is no reason that a cricketer can not lead the country successfully. Arnold Schwarzenegger for instance is having a relatively successful political career as governor in California. On the side note though I would say that politics often hurts Pakistan. The typical politician has to overplay how much of a “mess” the country is in. So his visit to the UAE for instance, might actually have hurt Pakistan as typical politicans not in power in Pakistan tend to tell the world how badly the country is doing and how to not trust the government. Which leads to less investment for the country. Which leads to less improvement.
In case you can’t see the interview with Imran Khan above click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drMxLg6Nt6I
or watch it on Vimeo if YouTube happens to be inaccessible where you are: https://vimeo.com/17162881
After 3 years in the United Arab Emirates my conclusions are that democracy can actually damage a brand. As Pakistan is politically free and the media is also free the amount of ‘negative’ hype has led to a huge damage to the brand. Admittedly, there are parts that could do better – but lessons from the UAE (Dubai) are that as there is no politics and everyone knows who the Skeikh is than there are less people going around and speaking negatively about brand “Dubai”, “Abu Dhabi” or “UAE” – which leads to more investment in the country and more optimism for its people.
As a national hero Imran Khan has the opportunity to make young Pakistani’s feel optimistic about their future – but as a politician the basic speech outline is “the country is going to be further in trouble unless I come to power”. So young Pakistani’s grow up with a pessimistic view of their country. They often wait for the “right leader” rather than taking action themselves to improve the country.
Imran Khan is highly educated (Oxford University) as well as articulate and has skills for great leadership. He is someone that is a great asset to “Brand Pakistan” but entering into politics means that he has to damage the brand in order to get elected. If politicians went around saying how well the current governments were performing than they lose their opportunities of getting elected. Making people feel fed-up with the current situation leads to more job opportunities for the politicians.
Imagine running Apple as a democracy – every 4 years the shareholders would hold their breath to see if Steve Jobs got elected. There would be people within the company highlighting Steve’s failures and downplaying his successes thus causing damage to brand “Apple” so they could come in and be elected as the CEO. Steve would spend more time on defending his decisions than on new product development. Apple employees would no longer be working as a team trying to develop the best products but instead have cliques of people competing against each other and causing more harm to their own company than Microsoft.
Winston Churchill famously said “democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. In terms of brand management though (countries are brands) I would say democracy is one of the worst forms of government. The brand of the country does not have consistency – imagine Nike’s “Just do it.” and swoosh sign changing every four years. Also democracy leads to people openly criticizing the brand. I don’t have the answer for the “best form of government” but I am merely highlighting from a brand management perspective democracy is poor. For all the criticism that Cuba and North Korea might get one benefit they have is their brands are relatively consistent in the global consumer, business and investor’s minds.
A lot of the skills that made Imran Khan successful as a cricketer will help him become successful as a politician. Ultimately, he could have “chilled out” in peace and enjoyed his retirement. But Imran has big goals. And that is what made him successful as a cricketer – to not merely play the game but to be the best. And now he is driven to help Pakistan progress. I’m sure his party will continue to do well and keep the current government on their toes.
Why I have a little “rant” on the political situation is as a marketer I’m passionate about branding. And one of my side projects is “Rebrand Pakistan” as I feel that the image of a country can create or lose millions of jobs (would you trust Boeing airplanes made in Pakistan?). Most developing world countries have branding issues which leads to less global investment from businesses.
You can see a little video below on the cost of a Pakistani Passport for the average Pakistani. And how a poor brand makes Pakistani’s less competitive globally. If you are Rawandan, Iraq, Iranian, Afghani etc you may “find and replace” the world “Pakistan” with your brand.
In case you can’t see the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7BHZ7gGLcc
If you would like to find out more about Imran Khan’s political party you can visit http://www.insaf.pk.
You might also enjoy reading “Passportism in Singapore”