TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP – A CASE STUDY*
M. R. Balakrishnan
Life Insurance Corporation of India
A real life case where one Senior Divisional Manager could convert every adversity into opportunity and transform a low performing and notorious Division into a well disciplined and high performing Division achieving high growth in all key result areas consistently for three consecutive years – that too despite his serious physical ailments. Shri B.K. was posted as Senior Divisional Manager of Tanjore Division of LIC, South Zone. The Division was biggest in the Zone in geographical area and in terms of number of branches. A rural division in Central Tamilnadu’s predominantly agricultural belt it was considered to be a “backward” Division in terms of productivity of sales personnel and in terms of new business. But the Division was ‘well known’ for various other reasons. There was a strong and militant trade union who had a strong hold over the staff, a ‘strong’ and militant agents union who regularly threatened the management and enforced their will on the Branch Managers and Divisional Management. Development Officers were mostly ill-equipped for their task but had become nonchalant under the influence of a strong trade union. There were inter-group rivalries in many branches between a caste based association and majority staff union affecting the customer service area also. The situation was considered to be very serious and the previous two Sr. DMs opted out within a short time-immediate predecessor in just one year and the previous one in two years. This was the situation when Shri B.K. was posted to the Division. The Zonal Manager had sounded B.K. that he would be sent as SDM, BK had agreed for the change from his post of Regional Manager (P&GS), South Zone and wanted a posting outside the Zone but the ZM who closely knew BK got him posted to Tanjore Division as the situation there was becoming worse by the day. BK was a person of amiable disposition, unassuming and simple with a frail physic being afflicted by rheumatoid arthritis for well over 10 years. But he was considered to be straight forward and uncompromising on issues. In fact the previous Zonal Manager had told him that
Award winning case study of NIA - C. D. Deshmukh Case Study Competition - 2006 and awarded at the hands of Hon’ble President Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.
60 q Bimaquest - Vol. VII Issue II, July 2007
Transformational Leadership – A Case Study
he had to choose a career in Zonal Office and Central Office as he would not be preferred for the post of Senior Divisional Manager as he was ‘too straight forward’. On posting to the Division Shri B.K. was cautioned by his Zonal Office colleagues about the tough task ahead in handling the situation there. When BK landed in the new station in the first week of May 2003 the incumbent SDM also briefed him about the alarming situation created by the ‘treacherous’ people around. The incumbent SDM was a veteran and a man of brilliant ideas and varied experience. He was very ‘friendly’ with the trade union functionaries of all denominations, always doing his best, even out of the way, to keep them in good humour. BK took stock of the situation through consultation with the Marketing Manager and other colleagues. In the first Branch Managers Conference it was revealed that the morale of the BMs was very low as they were repeatedly let down at the instance of one union or the other. BMs were told by the ex-SDM not to create problem for the Divisional Office and were often forced to concede to illegitimate demands of one group or the other. Shri BK met the leaders of various unions who raised pending issues and demanded early solution. BK agreed to look into their problems and promised to solve all genuine problems within his jurisdiction expeditiously. In August 2003 a new software platform was being installed in all branches of the Zone. But the...