When a Swedish car brand hijacked spends of all other car makers advertising on very-lucrative Super Bowl ad slots by asking users to nominate someone on Twitter for a for-free SUV every time any car maker’s advert aired, it was a tactic that won them not only accolades for marketing genius, but also USD 200 million in earned media impressions and a 70% increase in sales of the SUV, in the following month. And this without spending a dime where other auto players spent millions on a single night in advertising real estate. However, even such a great tactic was just that, a tactic – a ploy, a train of thought, even a train out of a box, that landed them great rewards.
However, when an American tycoon spent billions building rechargeable cars, it was strategy, not a tactic. For him, it was a future where energy resources would be depleted and expensive, while more economically and viable and planet-friendly options such as electricity would appeal, that he was preparing for. A future where sustainable want, based on sustainability, would drive human consumption.
Being a CEO is often just that. Understanding what works at a Super Bowl, and what will build an empire in the future, and then juxtaposing the two, to bring to life a living breathing organisation that churns profits across the three bottomlines of people, planet and profit. And it is these pearls that come not from a salary in the lakhs, but the ability to spend those lakhs wisely in making crores.
Socrates opined, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing”. The only way to move at a sharper gradient than the average bell curve is to ensure that while others discuss management, one discusses leadership. It is here that the Whartons and Stanfords of the world hold an edge over the others. Whether it be the Founder of Blackrock, the current President of the United States or Elon Musk, a commonality is their all having had Wharton as alma mater.
Wharton has of course, in the recent past, also brought their offerings to Indian shores, teaming up with fellow academia at Times Group’s ‘The Second Wind’, offering courses on subjects ranging from emotion and identity to firms as systems of interconnected choices. Of interest a decade down the line would be the all-star line-up that would present itself, a roundtable shared by CXOs of global consulting firms, brands and corporate strategists, when such a course called for a reunion of sorts.
If one could sit at a table such as that, then one would be able to distinguish between why a car maker who spent nought a penny made as much in equity as was made by another by investing in renewables. What one would have learnt by then would be why a sum of tactics may define a strategy, but a breakdown of strategy does not always outline a flow of tactics.
Maybe that is why leaders are born, but CEOs still have to be trained.