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My audience may by now be losing its patience, thinking as to why I keep harping on the term ‘values’ so very often!

The Road to Happiness

Well, it would not need a Sherlock Holmes to figure out what is happening here. Besides being an occasional author, a speaker, a regular blogger and content creator on such topics as Management, P G Wodehouse, Bollywood and life in general, yours truly has undergone several juicy experiences in life – some sweet and some sour. Based on my 35 years+ experience in the corporate world, I have become aware and conscious of the need for high values and ethics in business. Some of you may recall my having worked across the two opposite ends of the Value Spectrum.

Add to this the enriching experience I have had while our planet has been busy spinning on its axis and completing 68 odd rounds around the sun since I have been around and the plot gets even thicker. Those of you who have had the misfortune of trudging through my articles and books would have already sensed an underlying current highlighting this very theme. In me, they would have discovered a fierce critic of any kind of compromises on this front.

My belief is that business ships (and lives too) which are built on a keel of sound values end up not only having a better brand equity but also yield better returns. When we are broad minded and give back to the society at large, we serve a higher purpose in life. Purpose brings inner happiness. Happiness is what we all seek.

Where Do Our Values Come From?

All this may have left my audience wondering as to from where our value systems come from. This would surely need the keen eye of Sherlock Holmes to explore.

Our Genes

After years of research on bonobos – intelligent apes closely related to us, homo-sapiens – Frans de Waal argues that human morality is not imposed from above but comes from within us. In his path-breaking book entitled The Bonobo and the Atheist, he proposes that moral behavior does not begin and end with religion. It appears that our values and ethics are instead a product of evolution and cultural response. All of us strive to be good within ourselves, in our own eyes. This explains our trait of innate goodness.

A cat or a dog may not think through the process so thoroughly, but bonobos surely appear to be aware of the nuances of social norms. They have a developed sense of reciprocity and fairness. They are even known to intervene in a fight between two tribe members so as to maintain peace and harmony!

Ancient apes, whales and dolphins deserve our gratitude for several qualities that we possess – our sensitivity to others, our concern for fairness, love of harmony and other just forms of societal behavior. If religion or spirituality attracts us, it is because that is how Mother Nature has made us. These present to us a template of good conduct; these touch a chord somewhere deep within us.

We, a Cocktail of ‘Gunas’

However, there is no guarantee that all of us follow the template of good conduct alone. As per Bhagavad Gita, each one of us has a unique mix of the three kinds of traits (gunas): Sattwic, Rajasic and Tamasic.

Spiritual texts tell us that both the good as well as the evil are manifestations of the Divine. When Lord Krishna manifests his all-pervasive and all-inclusive Vishwarupa form in the midst of his sermon to Arjuna, he reveals the negative side of the Divine as well.

Conception, Upbringing and Our Role Models

The thoughts of our parents when we were conceived, the manner in which we are brought up and the role models we have in our lives are perhaps some of the other factors which shape our inner value systems.

In childhood, when I picked up some money lying on the road outside my home, with gleeful thoughts of treating myself and my friends to an ice cream or two later, I had no other option but to be guided by the moral compass of my parents. I was made to donate the money to a beggar outside a temple we visited in the evening that day. In many other instances, a straight and narrow path of righteousness was laid out.

It was a common practice for my paternal grandmother to read a few pages of Ramcharitmanas almost every evening. Likewise, my maternal grandmother was a follower of the principles of Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave and Swami Vivekananda. Stories from Panchatantra et al defined the nature of books and comics available to us in our childhood.

The rich legacy left behind by my parents and other family seniors comprises the kind of values they cherished. Never to brag about one’s accomplishments. To listen to all, but to do only what one’s inner voice holds to be right. Be truthful and honest, but not to hurt anyone in the process. Do not easily promise anything; once promised, just do it. Treat others in the way you yourself wish to be treated. Be punctual; you have no right to waste another’s time. Eat healthy. Exercise regularly. Be good to others, but protect yourself first. Be always courteous to members of the tribe of the delicately nurtured. Judge people only by their inner qualities; not by their external appearance. As to your future plans, share these only on a need to know basis.

In addition to the immediate family members, there were a bevy of uncles, aunts and cousins passing by the household, some benign and a few others not so. Their feedback and their comments also shaped up our thoughts.

Those were simpler days when the radio was the only means of entertainment. The power supply would often play hide and seek. At bed time, while watching the twinkling stars high above, one could learn much from the stories of various achievements of our ancestors narrated by someone senior.

Lord Rama and Lord Krishna 

Mahabharata was yet another epic which influenced me. Arising out of an age-old belief that a copy kept in the house could lead to conflicts between siblings, I could read it only when I was in college. Some traits of Lord Krishna – a friendly disposition, fleet-footedness, detachment, helping those who are on the path of righteousness, strategic thinking, treating ends more important than the means, etc – are endearing and relevant to this day.

Both the godheads present a slightly different template of good conduct. Both exhort us lesser mortals to follow the path of righteousness, or dharma. But their methods vary. If Lord Rama is an epitome of virtue and is to be kept on a high pedestal and revered, Lord Krishna is less bound by notions of morality. He is a true friend, philosopher and guide. If a villain in our story is troubling us too much, one could frankly confide in Krishna and request him to ensure that the fellow be somehow banished from Earth and packed off to Mars on a one-way ticket. This is the kind of liberty we just cannot take with Rama who would surely take a jaundiced view of a request of this kind!

Much later in life, in the corporate world, I learnt the practice of ethical values at two of the companies I worked with. Tax planning and tax avoidance was fine, tax evasion was not. Creative interpretation of laws was fine; laxity in following the norms of governance was not. Payment of bribes was ruled out.

In one instance, while in the employment of one of these companies, I was invited by a management institute to be a part of their curriculum finalization team. A token remuneration was offered by the institute and accepted by me. As per company policy, the amount was gifted to a charity rather than used by me personally.

Learning from the Younger Ones

Bring in a leader of high values in an organization and see for yourself the manner in which ethical practices percolate down to all the levels. Given support from the very top, businesses then get run by striking a judicial balance between the commercial interests and the society’s welfare. A culture of encouraging Conscience Keepers and discouraging neither dissent nor whistle-blowing permeates such organizations.

In a way, we can learn much from our younger generation which does not feel shy in calling on its employers to either shape up or ship out. Uber experienced this recently, when it came to dealing with reports of harassment by its drivers of some of its female passengers. Likewise, producers of the 2020 movie, The Social Dilemma, deserve a hearty round of applause for giving us a peek into the way we get manipulated by the social media giants.

Values: Teaching and Learning      

I have no academic credentials to say this, but I believe that values can not only be learnt but can also be taught. Learning comes from within whereas teaching is an external stimulus. One moves as if on a spiral, imbibing things within while also absorbing inputs from outside.

If our inner consciousness is awakened, so to say, we may be more open to learning good values. But if we have somehow evolved into dense, obstinate and shameless beings, believing ourselves to be the epitome of perfection, life’s harsher slings and arrows alone may be able to teach us quite a few things. All of us are like sponges which readily absorb the kind of cultural liquid which surrounds us. That is how, keeping the right ‘company’ is so very crucial in our lives!

In-house orientation programs, backed by relevant case studies and real-time experiences shared from across different verticals of the organization can help. The credibility of the resource person often plays a crucial role.

Grooming Spiritually Inclined Leaders

Businesses (and many of our governments too!) need to consciously groom leaders who rate high not only on their Intelligence and Emotional Quotients, but also on their Moral or Spiritual Quotient, bringing in to the work place a set of healthy values and ethical practices.

This, I believe, is the basic need of our times.

 

(SQ Illustration courtesy Sanket; other images courtesy www) 

 

(Related Posts: 

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2021/02/21/a-few-things-which-make-me-angry-these-days

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/values-the-real-soul-of-organizations-2

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/ethics-and-values

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/towards-sq

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/the-beauty-inside-bonobos-and-management)

 

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ethics and values

We do not necessarily need a degree from Harvard to realize the difference between right and wrong. The Moral Compass within us is capable of telling us if we are on the right path.

Human values form the inner core of our personalities. These keep nudging us to be good human beings.

If ‘Values’ are the cause, ‘Ethics’ are the effect. If our value system is in place, our outward behaviour and conduct shall be ethical. Same is true of organizations, where the underlying culture determines the response of its key managers to tough business situations.

A company which believes in human values would handle a separation differently. When ramping down a business, good performers could get helped to secure career opportunities elsewhere. A star performer who has made up her mind to leave would get treated with great respect, thereby making her a valuable brand ambassador for the company.

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We live in times when the allure of the C-suite appears to be wearing off. Expectations from CEOs of all hues, sizes and shapes are reaching stratospheric levels, with the ostensible result that attrition rates at that level of management reflect an upward tick.

A recent report by Price Waterhouse Coopers had revealed that the CEO turnover at the world’s 2,500 largest companies rose to 17.5% in 2018 – 3% higher than the 14.5% in 2017. For the year 2018, the first time in the study’s history, more CEOs were dismissed for ethical lapses than for financial performance or board struggles. CEO turnover rose notably in every region in 2018 except China, and was quite high in Brazil, Russia, and India (21.6 percent) while the lowest was in North America (14.7 percent).

According to the report, in 2000, a CEO could expect to remain in office for eight or more years, on average. Over the last decade, however, average CEO tenure has been only five years.

The mixed bathing challenge for CEOs

While those who aspire to occupy a C-suite keep an ear to the ground and eagerly wait to seize an opportunity as and when it comes up, the ones who have benevolent Guardian Angels and end up occupying one soon realize the perils of mixed bathing on the Dark Continent where, attracted by the tourism propaganda of some innovative travel agents, they end up swimming in the Zambezi river. To their utter horror, they discover that mixed bathing regulations are in vogue there, and that their dip is being shared by a couple of young crocodiles. What leaves them literally cold in the feet are the penetrating and unfriendly eyes of some of the crocodiles swimming alongside, who have taken a jaundiced view of their habitat being infested with a juicy specimen of the tribe of Homo  sapiens. Quite a few others are gleeful, drooling over a good source of their daily vitamins. These crocodiles might as well be representing the kind of challenges CEOs would face when, and if, they return to their office desks: Business Goals, Quarterly Guidelines, Investor Pressure, Ethical Dilemmas, Compliances of all kinds, to cite only a few.

Business leaders of the future

Increasingly, there is a need for business leaders who can steer their businesses using not only a Commercial but also a Spiritual Compass. In an era when technological developments are redefining the manner in which businesses interact with their stakeholders, there is much that CEOs and managers can learn from the Bhagavad Gita. It is a Do-It-Yourself Manual of Motivation. Its language is pregnant with symbolism at times. But it has rich lessons to offer for day-to-day conduct of business.

Of jackals, cobras, giraffes, elephants and tortoises 

To run a business well, wily jackals and cobras are required; but so are friendly giraffes, brainy elephants and wise tortoises. If the leader herself happens to be a spiritually inclined person, focused on steering the business successfully towards its purpose and goals but without running into a collision with massive icebergs hiding a hidden mass of compromises with core values and ethics, she would attain the exalted status of a Conscience Keeper for the entire business.

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/towards-sq)

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SQIt would not be wrong to say that in today’s world, a relentless pursuit of wealth and material belongings has left a deep scar on our souls. Many of us are twiddling our thumbs trying to figure out either how to de-stress ourselves or how to keep fighting those depressive blues. There is a nagging emptiness within and the mind boggles as to why and how it has come about. Most of us have no clue as to what could be done about it.

Redefining ‘Success’ and ‘Happiness’

One way out of this dilemma is to perhaps redefine our concepts of ‘success’ and ‘happiness’. What do these terms really mean? When we dig deeper, we might find that these two are not really dependent on external factors. There is an inner connection somewhere.

Something very elaborate, say a long well-planned vacation, might not yield the emotional high that we expected…

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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…

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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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Preamble

Hassled CEOs have no other option but to keep issuing guidelines from one quarter to the next without fail. Much in tandem, every quarter, a new corporate scam hits the headlines. The precise regularity with which skeletons keep tumbling out of corporate closets at frequent intervals would put the atomic clocks on our planet to shame.

When it comes to perpetrating a fraud on unsuspecting stakeholders, human ingenuity has never been found wanting. If America had Enron and Lehman Brothers, UK had Barclays. If Norway had Nortel, Portugal had Banco Espirito Santo. If Switzerland had UBS, Germany had Volkswagen. India has had Satyam and Punjab National Bank. She has also earned the dubious distinction of improving upon its Ease of Emigration rank for defaulting high net worth individuals in the recent past.

No industry could lay a specific claim on such man-made disasters. Be it banking, insurance, mining, automobiles, liquor, energy, commodities, IT or real estate, all have set examples of devious plans to deceive their stakeholders, whether of the gullible kind or the colluding kind.

Human greed and avarice are obviously the root cause. The sheer pleasure derived by a minority in making some extra gains at the cost of a silent majority apparently has a sense of gratification which surpasses all else.

A business environment of this nature needs leaders and managers who have nerves of chilled steel and a disposition backed by a high degree of inner resilience. A deep commitment to values and ethics in business. A premium on fairness and transparency in all kinds of deals. A long-term view of sustainable success, as opposed to a fly-by-night approach to decision-making. A constant connection with one’s inner self. In short, they need to have a high Spiritual Quotient.

A two-day workshop at Pondicherry University

The Department of Management Studies of Pondicherry University, in collaboration with Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research (SACAR), recently conducted a two-day workshop, highlighting the manner in which aspiring managers can work on an inner transformation and achieve unparalleled satisfaction and growth in their careers, whether as professionals or as individuals.

In his keynote address, Dr Ananda Reddy, Director, SACAR, highlighted the challenge the leaders and managers of today face: that of following values and ethics in business, of imbibing the principles of corporate governance in their decision-making, and the need for being aware of the potential of spiritual consciousness as a solution to the problems they face.

Organizations are made up of human beings. Thus, the mantle of transforming corporates falls squarely on the young and strong shoulders of individual leaders and managers. This alone can lead to a meaningful evolution in the manner in which organizations function. By being an important part of society at large, such organizations set high standards and spearhead social evolution.

The need of the day is to view the management process through a new lens – that of the Four Pillars of Harmony, Strength, Perfection and Wisdom. This new paradigm of Management goes beyond the self-centred ‘I and Me’ approach of Western models. Rather, it focuses on the overall good, espousing a ‘We and Us’ approach, which is more holistic in nature. This new paradigm is based on ancient Indian wisdom and can help leaders and managers to deal with corporate affairs more effectively and efficiently.

The new paradigm of Integral Management

Yours truly provided to the participants an overview of the Four Pillars of Integral Management, backed by real life examples from the business world.

The challenges of maintaining Harmony were brought up, as also the need for a higher Spiritual Quotient. Use of planned disharmony in the market place, as evidenced by the disruptive entry of Reliance Jio in the telecom sector and that of Patanjali in the FMCG sector, was mentioned.

The need to deploy Strength for the overall good was substantiated by the case of Tata Trusts. The abuse of corporate muscle power was brought out by quoting the case of Erin Brockovich, who spearheaded the campaign to secure substantial relief for those who suffered at the hands of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company of California in 1993.

The development of hybrid cars and several product recalls were cited as examples of dynamic Wisdom in company’s policies. The need to build brand equity was discussed, so was the role of intuition in decision-making. The story of how the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore came up based on the singular initiative of Sir Jamsetji Tata (1839-1904) was narrated.

Participants were exhorted to give up the culture of mediocrity and strive for Perfection in all their actions. Example of Apple products and Rolls Royce cars were cited.

Harmony and Collaboration

Professor Kisholoy Gupta, an accomplished international trainer in Management Sciences, based in Bangalore, invited the participants to play some games to demonstrate the role and importance of Harmony and to experience a freedom of expression, so one could feel free and happy, and therefore, work more productively.

Ms Padma Asokan, who manages Omeon Solutions, a global software company in Chennai, explained the need and mechanics of achieving Harmony in organizations.

The core of any organization being love and harmony, managers can improve their contribution by achieving a balance between their inner and outer selves.

Managements need to enable harmony at different levels. At the infrastructure level, care needs to be taken of tools, office layouts, work station design, and rest and recuperation facilities. The top person is the DNA of the company’s culture and thereby enables organizational harmony. Operational harmony is achieved through teams which aim to achieve success in whatever they choose to do. Smooth communication, whether vertical or horizontal, ensures better harmony across an organization. Treating employees with respect and dignity and innovative HR policies ensure a high degree of motivation at all levels.

Order and cleanliness attract all stakeholders to a business. Waste reduction, productivity improvement and minimal friction are the key benefits one derives.

The highest form of harmony results from conflict resolution of values across individuals, departments and profit centers. Managements keen to achieve a state of sustainable corporate harmony counsel their employees to cleanse their minds of such negative emotions as anger, hatred, passion, lust, delusion and pride.

The Strength of Self-belief

Professor Kisholoy Gupta conducted some practical exercises to make the participants aware of the importance of the Strength of being impartial and objective and “stepping-back” before taking any decision.

Mr Ganesh Babu, a strategic thinker and a coach extraordinaire based at Pondicherry, touched upon the importance of self perception, self-control and a belief in one’s own abilities. By quoting examples of several spiritual stalwarts in the fields of business as well as in spirituality, he demonstrated that it was their belief in themselves and their unique capabilities that led them to scale great heights and become the leading lights of humanity, inspiring one and all.

An individual manager’s values and beliefs shape his attitude. These, in turn, determine his feelings and behaviour, making him what he is. The power that he exercises is often derived from his beliefs. By reviewing one’s belief systems, one can enjoy greater power over one’s actions and circumstances, thereby enhancing one’s efficiency and effectiveness.

A manager can increase his Strength manifold by:

-Basing his decisions on empathy and respect towards others;

-Refusing to accept anything below standard, treating all tasks as Divine work and, thus, striving for perfection;

-Dealing with Materialistic Resources in a firm and polite manner.

Perfection in Management

Professor Kisholoy Gupta conducted a series of practical exercises of making quality products, thereby driving home the relevance of Perfection in management.

Dr Sridarshan Kaundinya, having had cross-functional experience in such companies as GE, Indus and TCS, and presently based in Bangalore, explained the manner in which Perfection gets practiced in the industry. The need to go for quality levels far beyond Six Sigma, like in aircraft engines where a failure could directly lead to loss of precious human lives, was touched upon.

Perfection is not only about having an intuitive power to accuracy but also about an unfailing attitude of fulfilling commitment, of being unscrupulous, unsleeping, indefatigable, and touching every detail, and of organizational execution and achieving an unfailing exactitude of result.

The Power of Wisdom in Values

By way of a warm-up exercise on Wisdom, participants were invited to describe the lines along which the city of Pondicherry should develop in another decade or so. Brighter minds at the workshop came up with some lofty and pragmatic goals for the city planners and administrators.

Dr Narendra Joshi, an eminent educationist from Mumbai, who has also worked on the interface between Artificial Intelligence and Spirituality, described Wisdom as comprising vision, wideness of understanding, and as a result, an endless compassion and patience for the time needed to effectuate and implement the intention of the Supreme in the manifestation.

He stated that it is not uncertainty alone that has paralyzed CEOs today. Many find it difficult to reinvent their corporations rapidly enough to cope with new technologies, demographic shifts, and consumption trends. They’re unable to develop truly global organizations that can operate effortlessly across borders. Above all, leaders find it tough to ensure that their people adhere to values and ethics.

The prevailing principles in business make employees ask, “What’s in it for me?” Missing are those that would make them think, “What’s good, right, and just for everyone?”

Practical wisdom, according to several studies, is experiential knowledge that enables people to make ethically sound judgements. It is similar to the Japanese concept of Toku—a virtue that leads a person to pursue the common good and moral excellence as a way of life. It is also akin to the Indian concept of Yukta, which connotes “just right” or “appropriate.”

One way of describing Wisdom is to have the ability to see the trees and the forest at the same time. With meditation and an inner connection with oneself, this can be cultivated.

Going beyond CSR

Mr. N Harihara Subramanian, a passionate Social Worker involving and supporting many Projects and a founder and promoter of the Indian Institute of Governance (IIG), Chennai, delivered the Valedictory Address.

He exhorted the participants to propel their organisations beyond traditional norms of Corporate Social Responsibility, and work for the overall benefit of the communities surrounding them.

Proceedings summarized

Dr Ananda Reddy, Director, SACAR, summed up the proceedings of the workshop. He reiterated the need to train young managers not only based on the Western models of management, but also to draw deeply from the wisdom contained in Indian scriptures. This alone could lead to businesses which work for the overall good of the society.

Workshop Design, Execution and Coordination

The workshop was designed to develop the inner capabilities of students as future managers in terms of the aforesaid Four Pillars of Harmony, Strength, Wisdom and Perfection.

The event was chaired by Dr. G. Anjaneyaswamy, Professor and Dean, School of Management, Pondicherry University. In his concluding remarks, he appreciated the unique contents of the workshop and expressed a hope that the Department of Management Studies may like to have the same incorporated into the formal syllabus of a regular MBA course at Pondicherry University.

The Inaugural Session was chaired by Professor K C S Rao, Head, Department of Banking Technology, School of Management, Pondicherry University.

The Convener of the workshop was Dr. R. Chitra Sivasubramanian, Professor & Head, Department of Management Studies (DMS), Pondicherry University.

The entire event was coordinated by Dr. B. Rajeswari, Assistant Professor, and Dr. R. Venkatesakumar, Assiociate Professor, DMS, School of Management, Pondicherry University. Dr Shruti Bidwaikar was the main coordinator from Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research (SACAR), Pondicherry.

The Road Ahead

Businesses with a futuristic vision need managers who are not only tech-savvy but also situation-savvy, adept at handling stressful challenges with ease and aplomb.

SACAR is open to the prospect of conducting similar workshops in commercial organizations as also at management institutes of repute, whether for the students or for the faculty.

For institutes interested in incorporating the content in their regular management courses, a draft syllabus has also been prepared under the guidance of Professor G P Rao, who, after retiring from Madurai Kamaraj University in 1997, has devoted himself to the mission of spreading human values in organizations, through his NGO, SPANDAN.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/spirituality-in-management

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

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/power-in-management-a-seminar-at-puducherry-india

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/the-element-of-wisdom-in-management-a-seminar-at-pondicherry)

 

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ashokbhatia

There are indeed times when we run into CEOs whose heads are screwed on just right. They are passionate about what they do. Their heart is in the right place, beating at a rhythm which matches that of the people and the environment. Their sense of ethics is in harmony with their value system which is governed by respect for the society at large. In terms of an upgraded Blake Mouton Grid, they can be spotted in the vicinity of the slot at 9,9,9.X Y Z upgraded

When it comes to achieving results, they do not pull their punches. Their bosses never cease to be amazed by their effectiveness and efficiency. The competition is in awe of many of them and cannot really be blamed for making repeated attempts to poach them. They do not live from one quarter to the next quarter. Their thinking is strategic. Their vision is far-sighted.

This is…

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Finland is a country which has smoothly embraced rapid change from being an agrarian economy to being a knowledge economy. Innovation happens to be a key priority. India, on the other hand, is still grappling with the disruptive changes that the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution bestows on its citizenry. It has earned global acclaim in the realm of “Jugaad”, which could be translated as either Informal Innovation or as Frugal Engineering.

INTERNATIONAL MINDS in FINLAND (IMiF) is a global community of 500 plus inquisitive souls whose IQ (read Intelligence Quotient, also Inquisitiveness Quotient) is rather high. It believes in co-aggregating and creating value in/with/for Finland. The community works with the single purpose of soaking in as much knowledge and wisdom as they possibly can from our vast universe. To this end, the community provides a platform for such persons of universal good will who would not mind sharing their knowledge and experience with them.

And that is how it came about that yours truly recently had an opportunity of interacting with some of the finest minds in Finland. While more than 500 luckier souls comprising the community continued to play the roles assigned to them in life elsewhere, a motley group of 5 singularly unlucky ones had to undergo the trauma of listening to some boring stuff dished out by yours truly. Their risk taking appetite surely deserves kudos.

While Lorena provided administrative support, Ludwig (Mylly´s CEO), Alexey (A professional who has mastered some of the intricacies between Russia and Finland, even in terms of logistics), Roman (IMiF´s Chairman and founder of TPOINT), Olavi (Young at heart, though an officially retired university professor), MARCO (co-initiator of IMiF) and Tim (An international business person), assembled at Mylly, a cultural centre at Kotka, to hear what yours truly from far off India had to convey.

Title of the talk

Surviving in the Corporate Jungle.

Key Takeaways

Analysis Paralysis

The role of intuition in decision-making can never be underestimated.

Meeting bosses half-way through

It is crucial to help one’s boss to keep his blood pressure under control.

Female Power

It pays to have gender parity at the work place.

His Master’s Voice

Avoiding being a Yes-man pays. Senior managers have the responsibility of registering dissent.

Overstaying One’s Welcome

Does the flight of your career appear to have rough weather ahead? Press the EJECT button in the cockpit.

Managing Stress

Build inner resilience. Meditate regularly. Do not allow garbage to get collected in the mind. Carry out a cleaning exercise every single day.

Quotients

Intelligence Quotient and Emotional Quotient are fine. What we also need to develop and use in business is our Spiritual Quotient.

Work Life Harmony

Avoid becoming a slave to technology.

Of Production, People and Ethics

Various leadership styles emerge. Charmless Charlies. Missionary Zealots. Road Rollers. Armchair Revolutionaries. Crazy Conformists. Sponge Comforters. Incumbent Chiefs. Super Chiefs.

Details can be accessed here.

A comment from one of the five wise men

Why is SQ (Spiritual Quotient) so very important in decision-making?

Being spiritual means one takes decisions which create a win-win situation for all stakeholders. Ethics and Values also come into play. In the long run, brand equity grows. So does shareholder wealth.

An example from the Tata-Benz collaboration during World War II was cited. Details can be found here.

(Others skipped discussing any other ideas, so relieved they were that the ordeal of listening to yours truly was finally over!)

The global nature of management thoughts

Managerial thoughts transcend national boundaries. Possibly because the principles of setting up and running an enterprise happen to be universal in nature. The core of the psychology of a manager also does not vary from country to country.

It is great to be able to share some experiential insights with, and also learn from, senior professionals who operate in another business environment and in a distinctly different work culture.

 

(Notes:

IMiF can be found:

In the public presence https://www.facebook.com/internationalmindsinfinland

In the private presence

https://www.facebook.com/groups/INTERNATIONALMINDSinFINLAND

Presentation based on my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, the English version of which was released recently.

This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016.)

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ethics and values

We do not necessarily need a degree from Harvard to realize the difference between right and wrong. The Moral Compass within us is capable of telling us if we are on the right path.

Human values form the inner core of our personalities. These keep nudging us to be good human beings.

If ‘Values’ are the cause, ‘Ethics’ are the effect. If our value system is in place, our outward behaviour and conduct shall be ethical. Same is true of organizations, where the underlying culture determines the response of its key managers to tough business situations.

A company which believes in human values would handle a separation differently. When ramping down a business, good performers could get helped to secure career opportunities elsewhere. A star performer who has made up her mind to leave would get treated with great respect, thereby making her a valuable brand ambassador for the company.

In the Mahabharata, this is how Yudhishtira responds to queries by Yaksha:

Yaksha:

Which enemy of man cannot be conquered?

                  What is man’s persistent frailty?

                  Which man can be called moral?

Yudhishtira:

Anger is the unconquered enemy of man.

                  Greed is the persistent frailty.

                  That man is moral who seeks the good of all.

Values and ethics happen to be a crucial component of our Spiritual Quotient.

(Source: The Mahabharata of Vyasa, Transcreation by P Lal)

(Excerpt from my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, which covers more than hundred topics of interest to managers of all hues, shapes and sizes)

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