Treasure chests of Management lessons
What the crème – de – la- crème of Business schools Stanford, Wharton, Harvard and the IIMs are teaching about the intricacies and nuances of Management, were taught in the Hindu epics ages ago. Realizing this, ,management schools started looking towards ancient texts like Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita.
The Hindu epics, Ramayana, Mahabharata are the treasure chests of knowledge, not just restricted to morals and ethics. They are the veritable treatises of knowledge embracing every sphere of human activity be it business, politics or teaching. As an example, allow me to quote, the scene in which Arjuna was in a state of despair, just before the starting of the war. The thought that he has to kill his own kith and kin made him sink in despair and grief.
At this crucial juncture, Krishna teaches Arjuna, how important it is for every human being to be equanimous, the quality of maintaining the mental composure in times of adversity. The quality of taking good and bad alike.The quality of equanimity taught by Krishna is applicable to all spheres of life, be it in a family matter or in a corporation. It’s even more applicable to the present turbulent and anxiety ridden world.
We know how the book, ‘Art of war’ written thousands of years ago by Chinese writer Sun Tzu has influenced the business and war tactics in many countries. In a similar manner, India needs to find its own managerial practices from its own sacred books.
The world is gradually realizing the quintessential content and worth embedded in the sacred books of India, Ramayana, Bhagvad Gita and Mahabharata and started evincing interest to study them. No wonder many CEOs from Japan attended a workshop held in IIM, Kozhikode recently. And it’s just a starting.
Every inch of Ramayana offers priceless information related to every aspect and activity of human life. Any welfare state that functions to the expectations of its subjects is popularly known as ‘Ramarajya’,. This itself speaks volumes about the acumen of Rama in the spheres of Statecraft and Administration.
Written by sage Valmiki, Ramayana is one of the greatest epics of India. It is divided in to seven chapters. Each chapter is known as ‘Kanda.’.
In the second chapter, Ayodhya Kanda, topics related to good governance were dealt in detail. In the Sundara Kanda, topics related to Strategic Management were dealt. Here is an example. When the ‘Ocean God’ was behaving erratically, Rama asks his brother Laxmana to get his bow and arrow and shoot at the troubling Ocean God. Rama said, ‘creating fear is the way to deal with a person who refuses to heed the warnings.’ A great example of strategic management.
In Uttara Kanda, Human resource management was dealt in depth. Rama himself set an example by ‘Walking the talk’, maintaining humility and remaining unperturbed during the times of adversity.
Are these not the same traits required to be present in a CEO stipulated by the management gurus and the top ranking Business schools of today?
Rama, further specifies that the quality of good governance is directly linked with the quality of the advice he receives from the council of ministers. The quality of the advice is directly linked with the knowledge and conviction of the ministers. This clearly indicates how important is the knowledge and conviction in a minister. This is what exactly the present day management and political Pundits say. We are seeing how the present day governances filled with ministers who lack the knowledge in statecraft and administration are causing problem after problem leading to uncertainty and chaos.
No place for ‘Yes Men.’ Decision makers are the need of the hour.
There is no place for ‘Yes Men’ in good governance. They dance to the tune of the Head. They cannot take a decision of their own.
Stress on Human resource management.
When Shatrughna was about to leave for a war against the demon Lavanasura, Rama advises him how to keep the soldiers in his army in good spirits. How to motivate them. A spirited and motivated follower will not care for obstacles, but only for his objectives. This is a shining example of Human resource management. This is an example of Leadership. This is an example of Team work.
Knowledge is precious. In the new paradigm of business, corporations in order to get an edge over its rivals, ‘Knowledge’ occupies a predominant place. Corporate community all over the world came to the conclusion that only a ‘Knowledge- based worker’ can deliver. This same fact was emphasized in both Ramayana and Mahabharat.
Rama knows very well about the scholarly qualities of Ravan. During the war between Rama and Ravan, Ravan was severely wounded and was on the verge of death, Rama went to him , with all the humility and folded hands, stood at the feet of Ravan and requested him, to share his wisdom with him. This an example to drive home the point that , knowledge, even if it lies with one’s arch enemy should be grabbed.
Similarly, Pandavas learned ftom Bhishma, who was also on the verge of death. Both these incidents illustrate the importance of knowledge . People who leave the organizations are the embodiments of knowledge. Realizing this vital factor, modern corporate managements are insisting on the exit interviews. Such interviews give a plethora of insights about the organization. It also yields crucial information in the truest form because an employee leaving the organization will speak his mind as he is free from fears and obligations. CEOs and smart human resource management use this knowledge and insights of the outgoing employee for making the company a better place to work.
Managerial skills of Rama.
An exemplary manager shows the way to execute a job with the limited sources at his disposal without complaining. When Vibhishana expressed his doubt about the possibilities of winning the war against a huge and well equipped army of Ravan , with his small army, Rama has shown the world how he won over a mighty enemy with the weaponry courage, ethics, valour, and determination, the predominant qualities of exemplary leadership and strategist of the highest order. Rama has shown the world how a good manger should be able to extract work even from his adversaries. Angad, whose father was killed by Rama helped Rama in the war against Ravan.
The qualities Rama exhibited are no different from a modern successful manager.
Rich dividends with good relationships.
The adage about the virtues of good relationships be it in the realm of business or within the premises of a close knit family are well known. Good relations lead to good rapport. Here is an example.
Sugriva’s kingdom was annexed by Vali, his elder brother. Rama helped in regaining his kingdom. When Rama’s wife Sita was abducted by Ravan, Sugriva reciprocated by deploying his army to fight against Ravan. In a similar gesture, Jambavan comes to the rescue of Hanuman. Before leaving for Lanka in search of Sita, Hanuman was in a vacillating state of mind. He was indecisive and doubtful about his own strength. Hanuman was not sure about the strength of Ravan’s army.
Jambavan convinces hanuman by analyzing the positive and negative aspects of Lankan army. Thereafter, Jambavan reminds Hanuman’s plus points and negative points. The in-depth analysis helps Hanuman in arriving at a positive decision.
Here we cannot miss two vital aspects of modern management. The first aspect is the importance of maintaining relationships. Relationships bear that invisible tag, ‘I Care’. This little tag plays a big role in any sphere of human activity be it in day to day corporate activities or in family circles.
Invaluable Management lessons from Bhagavat Gita.
In Bhagavat Gita, Chapter 2, verse 38, it’s said,
“sukha dukhe same’ kritva labha labhou jaya jayou
tatho yuddhaya yujyasva naivam papam avapsyasi”
Humans experience a plethora of emotions caused by joy, sorrow, success, failure, unions and separations. According to the above verse, one should not yield to them. Instead, one should deal with them with equanimity. That is, one should not be overjoyed by happiness or depressed by sorrow.
Modern Management Gurus observed that , the most common trait found in all successful top executives is self – control. Remaining unperturbed in testing times. Maintaining equanimity. Bhagavat Gita describes such personalities as ‘ Sthithapragnya’, one who can tackle adversities with ease and elan.
The uniqueness in Bhagavat Gita lies in the fact that the solutions to any mundane problems are tackled from the very roots, unlike the solutions offered by modern management.
Optimal utilization of resources.
An effective Manager is one who realizes the core values of the resources at his disposal. Managerial effectiveness has been well explained in Gita in the following example.
Just before the Mahabharata war, both Duryodhana and Arjuna seek the help of Krishna. Duryodhana asked for Krishna’s army, while Arjuna asked for Krishna’s wisdom. Arjuna identified the potential of Krishna's wisdom.
Attitude Towards Work
It’s essential for an achiever in any sphere of life to have attitude towards work. Attitude towards work is best explained in the following example.
A few workmen who were working for a temple building had three different views on the work they were engaged in. Their views mirror their attitudes towards work. A few expressed that they took up the work as a means to livelihood. A few others said that they took up the work because it’s an opportunity to show their skills to the world. A very few said that they wanted to be a part of team that built the best temple in the world.
The above example speaks of different perspectives of different people’s attitude towards the work, though their work is same. The last group’s attitude shows a sense of working that lays stress on, “Working for common good”. That is, they have a larger vision.
This is the aspect that Gita stresses on. A corporation or an individual should have this attitude. This is the trait that takes them to the pinnacles of glory. This is the trait that gives them a cutting edge.
Put your heart in whatever you do
Focus on your work. not on the outcome. It means, you need to pay undivided attention. If you lose focus, it leads to failure. Failures are the breeding grounds for frustrations. Frustration causes stress. Modern managers are burdened with a plethora of problems in their day to day functioning. Especially during lean and fluctuating economic scenarios. It’s where the Manager’s quality of steadfastness as mentioned in Gita in the chapter 2, verse 38 stands in good stead.
Overcoming insurmountable obstacles on the way.
It’s not uncommon for a corporate manger or householder to face obstacles like failures. Gita says, the ability to overcome the obstacles on the way to one’s journey towards his/ her goals will be an asset. The ability to overcome obstacles warrants for qualities like erasing egoism, putting service before self, team work, knowing the value of dignity of labour, trust, empathy and priority of aims and objectives.
Such people are the real visionaries. They believe in innovations. They believe in making others innovate. They reach their goals. They help others reach their goals.
The above traits in an individual clearly say that the prime criteria for effective management is detachment. Here detachment implies, “Unconcern about Outcome.” Giving the best should be the only concern. Success achieved in this way especially with the help of the team should be seen as a collective success, even though one is the leader of the team.
This is what motivates others. And this what the modern management emphasizes.
Bhagavat Gita mentions two types of Works depending on an individual’s ethical values. The work done by an individual who is gifted with the traits like self control, modesty, straightforwardness, steadfastness, purity of mind, forgiveness, is known as, “ Daivi Sampat”. It means, God’s work.
In contrast to this, there is another type of work known as, “Asuri Sampat.” It means, the work dome by individuals who are self-centered, greedy, dishonest is known as “Asuri Sampat “or demonic work.
Any type of work that leads to the ‘Common good’ of all is the ideal way of working. This is the modus operandi recommended by the modern management for an industry or an individual for achieving success in any field.
These are but a few examples to establish the fact, India needs to apply the quintessence available in its own repository of ancient and historical culture.
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