MONDAY MUSINGS Ep. 5 – Leadership Lessons in Valmiki Ramayan

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Lord Ram listed 14 negative traits a leader should avoid to Bharath as part of his advice for good governance. This comes in Ayodhya Kandam of Valmiki Ramayan. 14 traits a leader should carefully avoid are:
नास्तिक्यमनृतं क्रोधं प्रमादं दीर्घसूत्रताम्।
अदर्शनं ज्ञानवतामालस्यं पञ्चवृत्तिताम्।।2.100.65।।
एकचिन्तनमर्थानामनर्थज्ञैश्च मन्त्रणम्।
निश्चितानामनारम्भं मन्त्रस्यापरिरक्षणम्।।2.100.66।।
मङ्गलाद्यप्रयोगं च प्रत्युत्थानं च सर्वतः।
कच्चित्वं वर्जयस्येतान्राजदोषांश्चतुर्दश।।2.100.67।।
Atheism, falsehood, anger, inattention, procrastination, not listening to the wise counsel, lethargy, gratification of all five senses, autocratic style of leadership, friendship with people who waste time in worthless acts, failure to track and implement decisions taken, inability to keep strategic decisions secret, omission of auspicious practices and setting out against all the enemies at a time.
Failure to implement decisions taken
Failure to implement decisions taken is grave injustice to the time spent.  Meetings are conducted to take decisions and decisions are taken so that they are implemented.
Meetings without coordinated and collaborative discussion is of no use
Discussions without an action plan serves no purpose
Action plan without assigned responsibility does not get implemented
Responsibility is in tracking and implementing the actions.
It is quite remarkable that this is highlighted in Ramayan

Importance of one-on-one meetings

मन्त्रिभिस्त्वं यथोद्दिष्टैश्चतुर्भिस्त्रिभिरेव वा।
कच्चित्समस्तैर्व्यस्तैश्च मन्त्रं मन्त्रयसे मिथः।।2.100.71।।
Meaning – I trust you deliberate in secrecy on your counsel with three or four counsellors, together and separately with each one, as laid down in sacred texts

One-on-one meetings are also very important to understand freely the perspectives of each employee, in practice from the days of Ramayan. ‘As laid down in sacred texts’ can be taken as per standard operating procedures.

Respecting Organization Chain of Control

This is a very tricky leadership issue and not seen in most of the management books. It is astonishing that this issue is covered in Ramayan. 
कच्चिन्न सर्वे कर्मान्ताः प्रत्यक्षास्तेऽविशङ्कया।
सर्वे वा पुनरुत्सृष्टा मध्यमेवात्र कारणम्।।2.100.52।।
Meaning – All the servants, I trust, do not present themselves to you directly. At the same time they do not remain out of sight with fear at a distance. The middle course is the best way for the welfare of everyone.
It is commonly advocated that ‘Open door policy’ is a good leadership practice. Good leaders like to connect and interact with people at all levels. Good practice but creates confusion, at times. Leaders should also be conscious of not allowing people to bypass the chain of control. 
There are instances when individuals bypass the chain of command and initiate business communications with people two or more rungs above or below them on the hierarchal ladder.
Leaders should regularly interact with people at all levels and should be open to listen to everyone but at the same time should be cautious about not allowing the ‘chain of control to be bypassed’.
Bypassing the chain of control demotivates people down the line and creates problems for them in discharging their responsibilities.
Lord Ram advocates middle course (exacted translated as ‘middle course’) in listening to the issues of people down the line.

… be continued….

Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article belong to the author. is neither responsible nor liable for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in the article.


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