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Posts Tagged ‘Bhagavad Gita’

Members of the tribe of managers who believe in the ‘I and Me’ approach have swollen minds and shallow hearts. They live in a virtual reality of their own, surfing atop the turbulent waves of life in a belief that they remain in total control of things. They think that they punch all the right buttons in their careers. Successes get attributed to their own actions and initiatives. Failures get attributed to external circumstances, to other people, or to the business environment in general.

In terms of an upgraded Blake-Mouton Grid, they have a propensity to evolve into a leader for whom results alone count. Concern for People gets relegated to the background. Concern for Ethics gets swept under the carpet and conveniently forgotten. In other words, they become CEOs who end up becoming road rollers.

Take the case of a young engineer from India who goes on to pursue his higher studies in one of the advanced countries of the world. He builds a career for himself, gets married, buys his own house, raises a family and even acquires the citizenship of the country where he has settled down. He starts believing that he is an all-powerful and accomplished person, and has the freedom to do what he wants. He prides himself on the fact that his spouse, an independent professional in her own right, is in that country owing to him alone. By implication, she has to be beholden and subservient to him. What he does not realize is the role destiny also has played in his career and life. A hard blow could well make him see the folly of ascribing all his achievements to his capabilities alone.

Free Will, Destiny and a dash of humility

One of the things such persons badly need is a dash of humility, professionally as well as personally. They could do with some introspection in all cases of successes and failures. A pitiless analysis of any success would invariably reveal key factors which not only assisted but also enabled them to achieve it. Likewise, a root cause analysis of a failure might reveal to them what they could have done better in the given situation. It might even show where they personally contributed to their own downfall.

A realization that one is not destined to exercise one’s so-called free will indiscriminately can help one to progress on the path of humility. In any case, the view that human beings are free to exercise their free will has always been a debatable one. Often, hapless Homo sapiens feel as if they are mere puppets going through motions in life according to a grand plan, ostensibly pre-determined by a superior power.

Take the case of an aspiring manager who has just finished her education from an Ivy League institution. She does not entirely control the kind of company she ends up starting her career with. Nor does she control the kind of boss, peers or subordinates she might end up working with. She could very well analyze the business environment the organization operates in. But she has little control over the same.

Going with the flow

Generally speaking, in life, one does not control one’s own birth or death. Nor does one control the kind of parents, extended family and friends one may merit. One merely goes with the flow, so to say.

Omar Khayyam thought one is no better than water, flowing willy-nilly, ‘where Destiny with men for Pieces plays’. He proposed that one merely follows an unalterable script in one’s life, as dished out by our Guardian Angels.

Contrast this with the traditional view of Judgment Day of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This view is based on the conviction that each person is wholly responsible for her conduct in life. The Hindu view of karma also supposes choice for individual human beings.

To participate in, and to submit to, the collective rhythm of creation is to attain bhakti, Narada Sutra says. This marks progress towards humility.

‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings’, says the poet (Julius Ceaser, Act 1, Scene 2).

The ‘We and Us’ Approach to decision-making

Life is much like river rafting, where one may make choices while negotiating the rapids. But the scope of the individual will is rather limited. In one’s career, the scope of the individual will is to choose between making decisions entirely based on one’s individual ego, thereby becoming an ‘I and Me’ manager. Alternately, one may choose to surrender to a higher power, and perform one’s action without attachment to the results thereof. This choice would lead one to a ‘We and Us’ approach to decision-making.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna exhorts us to do precisely this: Practice detachment.

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन |
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि || 47 ||

karmaṇy-evādhikāras te mā phaleṣhu kadāchana
mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr mā te saṅ
go ’stvakarmaṇi

You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction.

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/04/13/heartfulness-management-and-leadership)

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Those exposed to the vicissitudes of a manager’s life often get unduly perturbed about the people around them, or the circumstances and formidable challenges they face in their careers.

But think of it. A manager would strongly protest if another one is made to occupy the office space assigned to her. Why, even a parking space allocation could disturb office harmony! The boss, spending a lot of time with a favourite manager of hers, could create a sense of envy amongst other managers; it could even initiate a chain of rumours and lead to animated discussions at the coffee machine.

Envy, jealousy, hatred, unbridled ambition – all of these happen to be strong undercurrents which could be detected within an outwardly quiet and serene looking manager. Given a chance, managers, like politicians and other professionals, would never cede even a square inch of their turf to someone else.

But if so, one may well ask as to how managers end up permitting others to enter their mental space and cause internal turbulence, often losing a well-earned peaceful sleep at night. They suffer at the hands of a boss or a colleague whom they have come to trust. They get swayed by external circumstances and people, losing their mental equipoise and balance in the process. This obfuscates their vision and disturbs their thinking processes. At times, such negative occurrences even chip off a part of their own self-confidence as well.

Tough bosses routinely rebuke their team members but end up affecting different people differently. Those with a lower self-esteem and a lower Inner Resilience might even contemplate taking a drastic step under external provocation, in some cases leading even to homicidal thoughts. But those who are wired differently might just take such occurrences in their stride, just shrugging off, noticing the underlying lessons and going ahead with the task at hand in a more effective manner.

Higher Inner Resilience is a stress buster

This shows the importance for a manager to have a high degree of Inner Resilience within her mental makeup. This way, she retains her sense of self-esteem. Her perception of reality remains balanced and objective. She is able to punch the right buttons and take better decisions. She owns her actions and takes responsibility for what she does. She does not gloat in a success, attributing it only to her own efforts and initiatives. Nor does she get unduly depressed when faced with failure. The tendency to blame other people or circumstances for her failures does not appeal to her. Instead, a pitiless analysis of the situation at hand gets done. A bout of introspection is attempted.

Her anxiety and stress levels are low. She is more likely to remain in the pink of health. This enables her to live her life to the hilt. An inner bliss is often experienced.

Much like a person who enters the sea for a swim, she is aware that it involves handling mighty waves. Also, that the water is not sweet. So, she is better prepared. Likewise, a manager who possesses a high degree of Inner Resilience is better prepared to handle challenges in her career, whether mighty or otherwise.

In other words, she is smarter than those around herself, better equipped to break the glass ceiling and make it to the higher echelons of an organization.

The risk of Sensitivity

Managers who are sensitive to others’ needs do not necessarily make better bosses. Emotions could cloud their judgement, thereby lowering their level of Inner Resilience. An excess of the Milk of Human Kindness sloshing about in the veins could make them lose their effectiveness as a manager. Moderation is what the doctor would recommend.

However, when Sensitivity gets deployed in tandem with Rational Thought, as drawn from the company’s objectives and policies, they end up being realistically empathic.

Another way of conveying this delicate balance is by the means of a Blake Mouton Grid, which is built upon two dimensions – Concern for People and Concern for Production. Add to this the third dimension – that of Concern for Ethics – and one gets somewhat closer to the quality which the Bhagavad Gita refers to as equipoise.

Learning from Bhagavad Gita

Lord Krishna explains this beautifully to Arjuna. In verse 38 of Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita, He says:

सुखदु:खे समे कृत्वा लाभालाभौ जयाजयौ |
ततो युद्धाय युज्यस्व नैवं पापमवाप्स्यसि || 38||

sukha-dukhe same kitvā lābhālābhau jayājayau
tato yuddhāya yujyasva naiva
pāpam avāpsyasi

‘Having made pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat the same, engage in battle for the sake of battle; thus, you shall not incur sin.’

When it comes to understanding the happenings around us, this inner equilibrium is the key facilitator. By attaining this state, a manager can shore up her Spiritual Quotient, of which Inner Resilience is a critical component.

Building up Inner Resilience

Meditative practices help. So does a realization that one is acting as per one’s own conscience and what one believes to be right. In other words, one is following one’s ‘swa-dharma’.

The ability and openness to appreciate a deemed adversary’s view point also helps.

Ignoring people with a negative persona and consciously choosing to remain in the company of some positive thinkers assists.

An attitude of ‘This too shall pass’ helps.

Above all, the wisdom gained from the harsh slings and arrows of Life supports in this endeavour. It follows that introspection helps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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India offers to the world an immensely rich collection of sacred scriptures.rig-veda First and foremost are the Vedas, which could be justifiably referred to as the core of the spiritual and psychological soft power of India. Then there are the Upanishads, which capture the highest spiritual knowledge and experience that India can offer to the world.

India also has Puranas, Itihasas, Tantras, Dharma Shastras, and Sutras, besides the innumerable works of religious poetry in regional languages.

Ramayana and Mahabharata

Amongst Indian scriptures, Ramayana and Mahabharata happen to be the most popular narratives. Both are pregnant with mature thought. Both contain teachings of political, religious, ethical and social kind. Both showcase, in a relatively simple language than that of the Vedas and the Upanishads, the Indian idea of Dharma, or righteousness.valmiki_ramayana

Both appeal to the soul as well as to the imagination of an intelligent mind. Even illiterates find gems of wisdom in these two epics. If philosophy, ethics, morals, social concepts, political thoughts or administrative justice form the warp in this unique fabric, heroic tales, human emotions, poetry, aesthetics, fiction, romance and villainy form the weft.

These epics showcase a highly developed sense of ethics and values, social and cultural realities of a distant past, besides intellectual and philosophical refinement. Lay persons could draw several life lessons from both these works. So could professionals of all hues.

Sanskrit, the supreme language  

Sanskrit is the language which forms the bedrock of a vast majority of these works. An intimate feeling of the language helps in understanding the multi-layered narratives better. One acquires a heightened sensitivity towards the shades of style and the context in which a statement is being made.

In today’s inter-connected world, one may not know Sanskrit but can still savour a fraction of the fragrant nectar of knowledge offered through any of the Indian scriptures.mahabharata-vyasa-ganesha

Sacred scriptures comprise a minor part of all the Sanskrit literature available from the Vedic to the pre-modern times. Nonetheless, they form the bedrock of Indian culture and spirituality.

Bhagavad Gita: The Song Celestial

Bhagavad Gita forms an integral part of Mahabharata, appearing in its Bhishma Parva. It comprises eighteen chapters. Broadly speaking, this unique composition touches upon three kinds of Yogas – Karma Yoga (The Yoga of Action), Gnana Yoga (The Yoga of Knowledge) and Bhakti Yoga (The Yoga of Devotion). [Yoga is a term which is often confused with physical practices of a certain kind. However, the term is used here in the sense of describing a communion, specifically the communion of an individual soul with the Divine.]

Upanishads articulate the philosophical principles concerning mankind, world and God. Gita explains the manner in which human beings can practice these subtle philosophical principles in their mundane lives.

Soulful management

One of the basic concepts enunciated by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita is that Mahabharat Krishna Arjunaof the everlasting nature of the soul. The concept of a soul now finds a resonance even in modern management literature. In his book ‘The 8th Habit’, Stephen Covey urges professionals to pay heed to their ‘inner voice’. While proposing the whole person paradigm, he speaks of the four dimensions of a person – spirit, body, heart and mind.

From a management point of view, perhaps the most relevant are the concepts espoused under the overall umbrella of Karma Yoga. Here, Lord Krishna emphasizes the importance of self-less action, free of its rewards and gains. A state of inaction is held to be another form of action itself.

Gita III 6

कर्मेन्द्रियाणि संयम्य य आस्ते मनसा स्मरन्।

इन्द्रियार्थान्विमूढात्मा मिथ्याचारः स उच्यते।।

[A hypocrite is one who suffers from a false notion of having self-discipline. He is someone who controls the organs of action but continues to dwell upon the objects of sense.]

Gita III 7

यस्त्विन्द्रियाणि मनसा नियम्यारभतेऽर्जुन।

कर्मेन्द्रियैः कर्मयोगमसक्तः स विशिष्यते।।

[He who controls his senses by his mind and engages with the organs of action in a Yoga of Action achieves excellence in whatever he does.]

The concepts enshrined under Gnana Yoga are also highly relevant for management professionals. This is so because one of the major challenges in their careers is to keep unlearning, so the process of real learning can never cease.

Smart professionals always keep an open mind. They strive to keep abreast of latest technological developments. They keep learning from their failures as well as from their successes.

The Yoga of Devotion

When it comes to Bhakti Yoga, the relevance of what Gita says is perhaps bhagavad_gitasomewhat limited as far as a practicing professional is concerned.

Loyalty and devotion – to a superior as well as to the company – are terms which readily spring to one’s mind. But in the absence of a truly charismatic business leader of the stature of Lord Krishna, blind devotion could perhaps lead to a catastrophe in one’s profession. A sense of misplaced loyalty often becomes an excuse for senior managers to remain in their comfort zones. Accepting fresh challenges becomes a key challenge. Their skill-sets start getting rusted. Much like stones which do not roll, they start gathering moss.

Time to rediscover the Gita

There is much that CEOs and managers can learn from the Bhagavad Gita. Its language is pregnant with symbolism at times. But it has rich lessons to offer for day-to-day conduct of business.

This stream of knowledge is close to 3,500 years old. It is never too late to rediscover it.

(Illustrations courtesy Wikipedia)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/management-lessons-from-ramayana

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/management-lessons-from-mahabharata

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/management-lessons-from-the-life-of-lord-krishna

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/some-management-lessons-from-india)

 

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After the 2008 economic meltdown, the management world has discovered that CEOs need to follow not only a Business Compass but also a Moral Compass to steer the enterprises they happen to head. Improving one’s Spiritual Quotient is now a sheer business necessity, and shall be more so in the decades to come.

It is here that Indian scriptures and sages provide a ready template for managers of all sizes and shapes. Let us consider a few facets of some of the pearls of Indian wisdom which find ready application in the realm of management.

Some pearls of Indian wisdom 

Ramayana

  • The entire narrative highlights the importance of values in our lives.Ramayana 1 Businesses which follow a policy of righteousness and conduct their operations in an ethical manner enjoy tremendous brand equity in the market. This rubs off on their products as well as on their employees.
  • Lord Rama decides to leave his comfort zone for fourteen years and ends up connecting with lesser mortals better. Likewise, CEOs and marketing honchos of today who travel through the hinterland to get a better first-hand feel of the customer’s pulse do a far better job of servicing the market.
  • An alliance with Sugreeva, coupled with an out-of-the-box unconventional army, eventually leads to Sita getting traced and Ravana getting vanquished. Mergers and alliances based on mutual respect and trust leads to better market share. Mighty objectives can be achieved even based on frugal resources.
  • Beware of sycophants. A couplet in Sundara Kanda of Ramcharitmanasa clearly advises us to ignore the advice of a paid deputy, a doctor and a teacher who speak positively out of either fear or expectation of a gain. A king who acts upon such motivated advice loses his kingdom, his body and his righteousness (dharma) as well.
  • When Sita gets banished from the kingdom, Rama’s role is not much different from that of a true-blue CEO whose loyalty to the company’s overall welfare is unflinching.
  • CEOs and managers who entertain amorous intentions in respect of women team members and managements which look the other way just because they accord a higher priority to business goals than to the character of their top honchos could take a leaf out of Rama’s conduct.

Mahabharata

  • The attachment of Dhritarashtra, the blind king, to his evil son, Mahabharat Draupadi_and_PandavasDuryodhana, proves to be highly destructive in nature. The entire Kuru clan gets eliminated. CEOs who promote their kith and kin without assessing the overall welfare of an organization get doomed likewise. Same holds true for many a political outfit.
  • Arjuna’s skills in archery are well-known. He achieves mighty feats based on his power of intense concentration on the job at hand. Multi-tasking, a misleading buzzword in current business parlance, has no place in his dictionary.
  • The perseverance of Pandavas eventually pays off. Repeated setbacks do not deter them from seeking their share in the kingdom. War follows only when even a settlement with five villages only gets turned down by Duryodhana. The tenacity of bouncing back in the face of adversity that Pandavas display is worth emulating by MNCs which try to penetrate the Indian market.
  • The unity of purpose amongst the five Pandava brothers is exemplary. Theirs is a unified and invincible family which goes through its trials and tribulations as a single unit. Likewise, large conglomerates like Tatas draw their strength from a set of core values. Each company within the group’s fold has a unique place in the market. The companies operate in fields as disparate as salt and software. Yet, all of them are connected by a common value system and a similar business philosophy.
  • The manner in which Krishna persuades a demoralized Arjuna to take up his arms by enunciating the basic principles of life in the Bhagavad-Gita is exemplary.

Bhagavad-Gita

  • One of the basic concepts enunciated by Krishna in the Bhagavad-Krishna_Arjuna_GitaGita is that of the everlasting nature of the soul. The concept of a soul now finds a resonance even in modern management literature. In ‘The 8th Habit’, Stephen Covey urges professionals to pay heed to their ‘inner voice’. While proposing the whole person paradigm, he speaks of the four dimensions of a person – spirit, body, heart and mind.
  • Over its eighteen chapters, Krishna propounds the intricacies of different forms of Yoga, a philosophical system which treats all life as a management enterprise. It exhorts managers to be impartial, not favouring any one goal, any one mode any one or group of persons.
  • A manager’s goal is the total overall good, in keeping with environmental necessities and societal requirements.
  • He is not swayed by happiness or sorrow, ego or nepotism, greed or desire.
  • He is not swayed by external temptations of tangible, material success and thus attains a state of happiness, peace and contentment. He radiates positivity and his decisions bring happiness sooner or later to maximum number of people.
  • In other words, detachment is the key takeaway from Bhagavad-Gita. Detachment from the rewards of any work or action taken results into a neutral state of mind.

Thirukkural

This is a classic Tamil ‘sangam’ (3rd century BC to 4th century AD) literature

Thiruvalluvar

Thiruvalluvar

composition. It has 1,330 couplets or ‘kurals’. It was authored by the renowned poet Thiruvalluvar. It is replete with words of wisdom. It is simple and contains profound messages.

Thirukkural has 133 chapters, each containing 10 couplets. Broadly speaking, all the 133 chapters can be divided into three sections: Righteousness, Wealth and Love. Even though the contents are meant for kings of yore, many of the messages are equally relevant for CEOs of business world.

Consider these ‘kurals’:

  • It is not good to forget the benefit received; but it is good to forget then and there the injury done by another. (108)
  • Those who alienate friends by back-biting may have forgotten the art of making friends through suavity of speech. (187)
  • Entering an assembly without sufficient knowledge is like playing at a dice board without its knowledge. (401)
  • Men of foresight who guard themselves against coming events know no distress. (429)
  • A king must act after measuring the strength of his plan, his own resources, the strength of the enemy and that of the ally. (471)
  • Let men be chosen with deliberate care; when once the choice is made, let no suspicions crawl into your soul. (509)
  • Strict enquiry and impartial justice mark the rule of a just monarch. (541)
  • The greatness of a person is proportionate to the strength of his will power. (595)
  • What you have clearly decided to do, do it without hesitation and delay. (668)
  • An unfinished deed and an unfinished fight will, like a half-extinguished fire, cause ultimate harm. (674)

Each ‘kural’ is complete in itself. It deserves to be meditated upon, one at a time, and imbibed in our day-to-day lives. One wonders at the keen observations of the poet, his sagacity and the effort he has taken to collate and compile this beautiful work, replete with words of wisdom which continue to be as relevant today as they were in the days of yore.

Chanakya Neeti 

Chanakya is a well-known Indian teacher, philosopher, economist, jurist and chanakyaroyal advisor. He is said to have lived from 350-275 BCE. He authored the ancient Indian political treatise, the Arthshastra. He is considered a pioneer in the field of political science.  He assisted the first Mauryan emperor, Chandragupta, in his rise to power. He is widely credited for having played an important role in the establishment of the Mauryan Empire.

One of his seminal works happens to be Chanakya Neeti, or Chanakya’s Aphorisms. It is a treasure trove of wisdom and speaks of the criteria to be used to judge people, the need for keeping one’s intentions confidential, the value of continued learning, situations wherein it pays to be a hypocrite, the supremacy of one’s duty, and the like.

He draws an interesting analogy between the animal kingdom and those who waste their time criticizing others. He holds such persons to be worse than the crows amongst birds and dogs amongst animals.

Sri Aurobindo

Profound thoughts of one of the prominent Indian seers of modern times, Sri Aurobindo, could be interpreted to propose a different paradigm of management. Sri_aurobindo

Whereas the Western model of management thought is based on such functions as Marketing, Finance, Production and People, the Eastern model, so to say, could be said to comprise four pillars of management: Perfection, Harmony, Power and Wisdom. Collectively, this paradigm could be called Integral Management.

Analyze the conduct of any business leader and one is apt to find the underlying presence of all these elements. It does not matter whether a manager handles marketing, finance, production or human resources.

  • It is by striving for perfection that one achieves excellence in results. Being perfect implies putting our best foot forward and doing our best under the given circumstances. It is the striving for perfection which assumes significance.

When Apple launches a new product, the whole market is abuzz. The toil and hard work which goes into creating and launching a new product is exemplary indeed.

  • A harmonious conduct with respect to all key stakeholders is essential for sustained success in business. Relations with financial institutions, regulatory authorities, customers, distributors, suppliers, staff and labour need to be based on a harmonious blend of business needs and the principles of natural justice.

The manner in which the Taj Hotel management responded after the 26/11 terror attack is a shining example of harmonious conduct of business.

  • Use of power with a sense of responsibility, that too for the greater good, leads to higher brand equity for a business. Marketing prowess can influence customers’ decision making, and has to be directed at their needs and not wants. Financial strength can also be leveraged to do something useful for the society. Administrative authority comes with a great deal of responsibility.

The case of Dr Pachauri being shown the door by TERI in a sexual harassment case is just one of the several examples of how the high and mighty should not exercise the power at their command.

  • Wisdom in decision-making leads to a sustainable business, which gives back to the society and the environment what it draws from the same.

In September 1898, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata decided to set aside half of his wealth as an endowment to establish a university of science. His donation was worth Rs. 30 lacs in those days. The other half he left for his two sons. The Indian Institute of Science eventually came up in 1911, paving the way for quality research and teaching in India.

This is the kind of unique learning which an aspiring manager receives in her formative years in the Eastern world.

Managers with a Western Mind and an Eastern Heart

Successful CEOs and managers of the future would need to be those who have a Western Mind and an Eastern Heart.

The success of the likes of Satya Nadella (currently the CEO of Microsoft) and Sundar Pichai (currently the CEO of Google Inc) goes on to show the growing importance of managers who are not only exposed to the Western models of management but also steeped in Eastern wisdom in the realm of management.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/management-lessons-from-ramayana

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/management-lessons-from-mahabharata

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/management-lessons-from-the-life-of-lord-krishna

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/management-lessons-from-thirukkural

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/managerial-perfection-notes-from-a-seminar-at-pondicherry-india

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/03/26/harmony-in-management-a-seminar-at-pondicherry-india)

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Lord Krishna, whose birthday will be celebrated tomorrow, happens to be one of the most revered and liked gods of the Hindu pantheon. Looked at from a management point of view, he is a leader par excellence. He manages events and people in such a manner that the end result is eventually positive and leads to a greater good.

Here are some facets of his personality which might be instructive for managers at all levels.

A friendly demeanour

When a devotee plans to seek a straight forward favour, like when a much-awaited promotion is due and hard workKrishna_holding_flute has indeed been put in for the purpose, Lord Rama is often the more sought after religious figure. But when a devious request has to be made, say when praying for the transfer of a CEO who keeps disturbing one’s mental peace, the attention invariably turns to Lord Krishna. After all, he is our friend, with whom we can be frank and open!

This is the kind of appeal Krishna has. The fact that he has been depicted as a playful child and teenager adds to his unique image. The manner in which he treats his friends like Arjuna and Sudama multiplies his allure as a great problem solver. His ready availability is his Unique Selling Proposition. This is a quality which many a manager would find good to imbibe.

Flexibility in Approach

When it becomes apparent that Jarasandh would not allow the kingdom of Mathura to enjoy uninterrupted peace as long as he and Balarama are there, Krishna does not hesitate to leave his comfort zone. In order to ensure that the denizens of the city remain safe, he decides to build a new capital at Dwarka and shift his operating headquarters there.

When market dynamics change, business leaders and their team members in FMCG companies do not hesitate to travel to the hinterland. This helps them to understand the customer psyche better, thereby improving their presence in diverse markets.

Examples abound of companies of companies which did not keep pace with the changes in technology and the market place. They continue to remain alive in our memories only.

Accessibility

Whosoever happens to be facing a challenge can approach him. Whether it is Arjuna or Duryodhana, there is no hesitation in seeking his help. Yes, whether and how he decides to help depends on which side of ‘Dharma’ we happen to be on. Duryodhana gets the support of his entire army, whereas Arjuna ends up getting him as a personal charioteer.

The privilege of accessibility is granted even to those opposed to him. Sisupala has the liberty of abusing him publically. Admittedly, he has a quota which, when exceeded, results into his death.

True blue leaders are invariably accessible to their team members. When a sudden challenge pops up, anyone can reach out to them and seek guidance.

Adherence to ‘Dharma’ (Righteousness)

The values inherent in a corporate policy, the vision for the company, the mission of the organization – theseMahabharat Disrobing_of_Draupadi constitute the ‘Dharma’ of all leaders, CEOs and managers.

When Krishna gets invited to the palace of Duryodhana for a rich feast, he declines. Instead, he prefers to have simple food at Vidura’s place. When Draupadi gets disrobed in King Dhritarashtra’s court, he manages to protect her honour. When a war becomes inevitable, he sides with the Pandavas. Invariably, he sides with those who follow the path of righteousness.

Strategy and Vision

In a careful reading of the major turning events in the whole narrative of Mahabharata, Krishna emerges as an eminent strategist. He keeps Draupadi’s frustration under check. He knows that Kauravas would never agree to let Pandavas have their share of the kingdom in a peaceful manner. Yet, he himself goes to plead their cause so that peace is given a last chance.

In the battle that ensues, he virtually leads the 7 divisions of Pandavas’ army to a decisive win against the 11 divisions of Kauravas’ army.

All mighty warriors on the Kauaravas’ side fall with specific inputs from Krishna. In case of Bhishma, Arjuna attacks him standing behind Shikhandi. Dronacharya is misled to believe that his son Ashwatthama has fallen. When Duryodhana appears to be invincible in his mace fight with Bhima, Krishna gestures to the latter to hit the former below the navel, thereby incapacitating him. When Balarama gets upset with Bhima for having broken a cardinal principle in his final fight with Duryodhana, Krishna intervenes to pacify him by reminding him of the several injustices perpetrated by the Kauravas on Pandavas.

Detachment

The manner in which Krishna persuades a demoralized Arjuna to take up his arms by enunciating the basic principles Mahabharat Krishna Arjunaof life in the Bhagavad Gita is exemplary. The gospel of devotion to duty, without attachment or desire of reward, continues to show the way of life to all those who seek light in the dark problems of life.

Krishna not only preaches but also practices detachment. Consider the manner in which he decides to leave his home and hearth in Gokul and Vrindaban. To him, the call of duty, of restoring the kingdom of Mathura to King Ugrasena, a just and righteous monarch dethroned and imprisoned by his own son, Kansa, is supreme. The fact that Kansa happens to be his maternal uncle does not stand in the way of Krishna killing him to achieve his goal.

He does not entertain the thought of ruling over Mathura himself. He believes that in order to be a competent ruler, he first needs to complete his study of the Vedas, achieve proficiency in warfare and understand the nuances of governance.

What does a CEO do when business conditions warrant a manufacturing unit to be shut down, even though he himself had painstakingly set it up two decades back? What does a manager do when a much-liked junior commits an act of impropriety and has to be asked to leave the company? Or, when a plum assignment has to be given up due to compelling personal reasons? A sense of detachment comes in handy in all such situations. The higher the level of detachment, the more objective the decision is likely to be.

Unstinted Support

When Abhimanyu gets killed on the battle field, a grief-stricken Arjuna vows to slay the warrior responsible – Jayadratha – by next sunset, or end his own life. Krishna manages to save Arjuna’s honour, bringing much relief to the Pandavas.

To those who remain committed and loyal to them, leaders provide unstinted support.Krishna

The Many Masks

Krishna does not hesitate to reveal himself in his entirety in the midst of the battlefield. Arjuna is petrified to see the ‘Vishwa Roopa’ of someone he considers to be a close friend.

Leaders also wear several masks. They could be polite and gentle. They could be loving and compassionate. But if the situation demands it, they could also invoke dread and fear amongst their team members. Just like Krishna, they possess a multi-faceted personality.

The Inner Voice

One of the basic concepts enunciated by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita is that of the everlasting nature of the soul. The concept of a soul now finds a resonance even in modern management literature. In ‘The 8th Habit’, Stephen Covey urges professionals to pay heed to their ‘inner voice’. While proposing the whole person paradigm, he speaks of the four dimensions of a person – spirit, body, heart and mind.

Intuition

Once the war gets over and all his sons have got killed, Dhritarashtra attempts to kill Bhima by crushing him in a close embrace. Krishna is able to read his mind and deftly pushes across a metal statue instead, thereby saving Bhima’s life.

Smart managers go beyond ‘analysis paralysis.’ They do use information, but they also rely on their intuition. A more balanced decision-making comes about.

Tenacity and Perseverance

When the disappearance of a valuable gem, the ‘syamantak mani’, is attributed to Krishna, he does not wallow in self-pity. With a chin-up attitude, he keeps working on the problem till the time it becomes clear that his conduct is as pure as the driven snow.

CEOs with a tenacity of purpose build up a unique team of followers. Perseverance is ingrained in their character. To give up does not come easily to them.

A Global MindsetMahabharat Draupadi_and_Pandavas

Personally, Krishna has little to gain from the great war. All his actions are directed towards the overall benefit of the society. Once Yudhishtira assumes the charge of the entire kingdom, peace prevails and development comes about.

Great business leaders share the same quality with Krishna. They try to give back to society in more ways than one. Sustainable business practices ensure that their companies’ operations do not cause irreparable damage to the eco-system.

Leading from Behind

Unlike Lord Rama, who leads an army from the front, Lord Krishna leads it from behind. The former leads an army of monkeys. The latter leads an army of illustrious people. Each one has great prowess, expertise and self-mastery. He also gets to handle people who are more shrewd and cunning.

In the initial phases of industrial revolution, when manufacturing was the primary activity, most of the leaders had to lead their teams from the front. In the services sector, as also in the emerging knowledge economy, leaders mostly manage from behind.

Depending upon the situation at hand, leaders switch from one mode to another. The style also varies from person to person.

A Tryst with Adversity

Krishna lives a unique life which is full of adverse circumstances. He is born in captivity. He is separated with hisKrishna birth parents immediately after his birth. Even as a child, he manages to survive attempts on his life. He leaves his foster home, never to return. He leaves the city of his birth and relocates to a far off place. He continues to be busy solving other’s problems throughout life. His whole clan gets destroyed in a bitter fight between its own members.

At no stage do we find Krishna blaming his circumstances. He is self-assured. He is confident. He is clear on what he wants to achieve. His methods may be rough at times, but they deliver.

Sure enough, like many a business leader, he pays a heavy price for upholding righteousness. With little time for family and children, the progeny is destined to remain unsung.

Tough situations bring out the best within managers. Life strives to chisel their character into a fine shape, much like a finely carved statue which is much admired by those who view it from the outside. Few realize the pain, suffering and sacrifice that the stone has undergone to achieve that exalted beauty and that state of perfection.Krishna_Arjuna_Gita

Krishna – A Spiritual Leader

Much like a business leader of modern times, Krishna displays vision, flexibility in approach, resourcefulness and an excellent capacity to command. The authority that he exercises over others is born more out of love and concern, not fear. He is the trouble-shooter par excellence who leads, inspires, guides and motivates. He sets a fine example for business leaders and managers to emulate.

Krishna is a role model for spiritually inclined leaders and managers. He demonstrates that being spiritual does not necessarily mean being soft. It only implies that one’s decisions and actions are rooted in stark pragmatism, backed by sound values and propelled by a desire to achieve the greater good.

(Related posts:

  1. https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/management-lessons-from-ramayana
  2. https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/management-lessons-from-mahabharata)

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WORK-LIFE BALANCECXOs of today operate in a hyper-competitive, fast-paced world. Round the clock connectivity gives them a great advantage – of being always accessible. However, it also takes a heavy toll. Making time for personal commitments poses a serious challenge; so does the absence of introspection as to where their own life and career is headed.

Here are some simple and do-able tips for CXOs to keep driving in the fast lane, with a clear view of the horizon and occasional stopovers in the sunlit valleys of life. In other words, to achieve the delicate goal of better work-life harmony.

Family time IS important

If you happen to be in station, earmark a time of the day which is exclusively for the family. Could be breakfast time. Could be dinner time. Make sure your international calls and Skype conferences are scheduled in such a way as to not to impinge on to this time.

Treat your weekly off days with the respect they deserve. Do not allow yourself the luxury of driving over to your office on such days.

Avoid sweating over small stuff

Small stuff is important. But you do have team members who take care of the minute details. Guide them, by all means. Do not get directly involved. You would only get blamed for micro-managing.

Prioritize well. Prioritize in advance. Follow Bhagavad Gita, which exhorts us to render our duties faithfully, guided not by desired results but by imperatives of the tasks themselves.

Check if you suffer from a decision fatigue. Put routine decision-making in an auto-pilot mode. This is bound to free up lot of your time which could be used more productively.

Managing technology

Let your biological age not bog you down. Learn and use technology in such a manner as to ensure some breathing space for yourself. That is when you will feel connected to terrestrial life outside your extra-terrestrial universe of work.

Technology can enable you to be virtually present at different places in different time zones. It can also enable you to be connected to anything critical happening which you genuinely feel might need your intervention. Use technology to delegate better and more effectively.

Schedule your priorities

Time is a finite resource. Use it intelligently. Engage when necessary; take a break when required. Meaningful interactions with family and close friends could leave you well charged up for the tasks ahead. Productive discussions with clients and professionals can help in resolving issues more effectively.

Excellence needs the fuel of passion. When passion drives your professional journey, constraints become less formidable. Tasks cease to become chores. Wise scheduling of your priorities results into excellence.

From IQ and EQ, on to SQ

Give your overworked brain some rest. Try using your heart to decide upon an issue. You will notice that improving your Spiritual Quotient would improve your performance. Small doses of gratitude and compassion help. Being aware of yourself and being conscious of what is happening within you helps. Humility helps. Developing equanimity helps.

Happiness and contentment within is great to have. You end up radiating it to those around you. Harmony in the work atmosphere improves. Output of the whole group improves.

You might find that IQ, EQ and SQ are like the spokes in the wheel of life, of which career is but one component. If all are equally developed, the wheel does not wobble – it runs smoothly.

A non sequitur?!

Before I sign off, allow me the liberty to pose a question. By hyphenating ‘work’ and ‘life’, are we not demeaning life? While chugging through our careers, we could honestly believe that work is much greater than life. In fact, it is merely a part of life. A subset, which needs to be in harmony with all other aspects of the multi-hued experience we call life. Perhaps, it is time to correct our perspective.

My proposal is this. Next time round, do not think about work-life harmony. Think only about achieving a state of harmony between the work-sphere of your life and the other spheres of your life – family, friends, hobbies, and the like.

When the conductor of an opera gets on to the stage to produce music that touches our souls, what he strives for is excellence, based on harmony. A discordant note from a single cello could ruin the performance. Likewise, all CXOs strive to get desired results, based on a harmony – between different managerial functions, between the organization and its various stakeholders and, above all, between the different constituents of their own lives.

So, how do you achieve this state of harmony? Would you like to share some insights?

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Mahabharat Krishna ArjunaHad Lord Krishna been around, this is how he might have advised a clueless and gloomy blogger Arjuna:

 

What you have already blogged, you have blogged well,

What you are blogging, you are doing fine, you can tell,

What you will blog, will also get blogged well,

Live in the present, your heart-felt ideas would eventually sell.

 

Never beseech someone for a ‘like’, a ‘reblog’ or for a ‘comment’,

Let your soul never be in torment,

For writing what you are passionate about alone you are meant,

Read more, get inspired, get cracking, never get bent.

 

At times, you may get upset for not having been ‘Freshly Pressed’,

Well, it is not the end of the world, do not feel unduly stressed,

Escaping a deluge of ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ instead leaves you feeling blessed,

You are not in a short sprint but in a marathon, you have already guessed.

 

Be contented, know that pain follows pleasure,

Keep up the frequency, even though you blog at leisure,

Your faith and passion in what you blog is the only measure,

Let each post of yours be a fragrant flower which one can treasure.

 

Write from your heart, do not copy-and-paste,

Time spent savouring a temporary surge in viewership and ‘likes’ could be a waste,

Your sins could soon catch up with you, leaving you repenting in haste,

Well thought-out juicy comments alone dish up a success you can taste.

 

Do not worry for awards and rewards which make you raise a toast,

Be more anxious for the quality of what you post,

Write for posterity a message that would never be lost,

Receive criticism with equipoise, those alone shall teach you the most.

Krishna_Arjuna_Gita

The effort you put in to blogging is alone your right,

The result may or may not come, even though you push with all your might,

Continue to blog in a detached manner, hold on to your path tight,

Simply enjoy the journey, be happy and scale the desired height.

 

Life will keep happening, ups and down will keep coming,

Resolve to remain steadfast, view them with an attitude which is welcoming,

Free from fear, free from anger, free from desire, keep blogging,

Like a tortoise, withdraw within yourself, ultimately winning.

 

Which idea really does belong to you?

In Blogosphere, you are apt to find somewhere a similar view,

You just propose your own perspective, fresh as a drop of dew,

The reality, as you see it yourself, presented anew.

 

Just like your indestructible soul,

The spirit with which you blog shall survive even a black hole,

Let the novelty of ideas put forth by you remain your goal,

Others may imitate and flatter you, but they make you play a worthy role.

 

Fire shall not kill your ideas, water shall not sully those ever,

Air shall not dry, ether in cyberspace shall support those forever,

Like a wave in the universe, these shall continue to travel, dying never,

These would never decay, built upon further by those who are equally clever.

 

Like your soul, your ideas are also unborn,

You and the universe you inhabit are neither divorced nor torn,

Like a well-tuned antenna you catch, your mind sounds a horn,

You manifest these, but believe you alone are the cause for their being born.

Krishna

Grow attached to your blog posts and you may become addicted,

Disappointment and anger will follow, your mind getting confused and conceited,

Lessons learnt from your own experiences getting forfeited,

The power of discrimination lost, the very purpose of life defeated.

 

Smart bloggers bring a fresh perspective, all the time aiming for a perfect post,

Doubts they double-check, keeping the post simmering, achieving a delicious roast,

Text they spell-check, the inner glow of satisfaction they host,

Read thoroughly, hit the ‘publish’ button, and raise a self-toast.

 

Most of their posts are wedded to the welfare of others, rich values these sustain,

From undue ridicule, criticism and offensive content their posts normally abstain,

Howsoever controversial the topic, a high degree of self-control they retain,

Their outpourings are merely to amuse, educate and entertain.

 

Be humble, be harmless, have no pretension,

Be upright, tranquil, steadfast, blogging will never give you any tension,

Master your ego, relish the joy of expression and retention,

Be aware of the weakness in mortal nature, keep your senses in wilful detention.

 WordPress_logo

This is the supreme knowledge, above all other,

Purified, made plain, easy its virtue for you to gather,

Its practice easy, you may resolve to follow it rather,

It is the blogging truth eternal, imbibe it, do not bother.

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