Conversations at the Intersection of PR, Traditional & New Media

The Authentic Leader

Authentic LeaderRecently, I happened to read an article written by Devdutt Pattnaik, a renowned author, in which he has narrated a short story from Anand Ramayana, which caught my attention and so thought of sharing with you allas it had a moral that is very relevant to our business as well. So this story comes from a Hindu Mythology dating back to Treta Yuga, during the reign of Lord Rama. Rama’s life and journey was one of the perfect adherences to dharma despite harsh tests of life and time. He was pictured as the ideal man, a perfect human being and the authentic leader. It is said that during that era, even animals could speak and had their right to live and express themselves. One day, it so happened that a dog came crying before Rama. On enquiring, the dog complained that, he was beaten by a priest because he had licked food from the priest’s plate. Rama declared the priest guilty and asked the dog if he wished any particular punishment for the priest. “Make him the head of the temple,” said the dog and Rama immediately agreed and the priest was at once promoted to the position of a head of temple. Those days, head of the temple was considered to be very powerful, their word was taken as a rule and law.

When the word spread and people started talking about this bizarre punishment of being promoted rather than some harsh sentence, the dog explained, “I, too, was once head of a temple. When I become the head of a temple, I become powerful, as everyone listened to me. Then I became arrogant, my ego had no boundaries, I considered myself equal to none. I used to ridicule people, did stupid things that were not expected from a head of temple. And when I died, I was reborn as a dog. I want the priest who hit me to suffer the same fate as me. I, therefore, want him to get a position of power and become arrogant. This will blind him from the truth and reality and make him do stupid things.”

Cut to today, this era is called Kali Yuga; we have little time to think what will happen post our death and want to just focus on our current lives. But our smart Shastra Pandits (Religious Scholars) have already predicted that in Kali Yuga, you don’t have to wait to be reborn to bear the fruits of your past life, in this yuga, you will get the results in the same life.

Coming to the point – ‘with power comes responsibility’. This simple phrase is often and fast forgotten when we get powerful. This is not only true in politics or underworld, but is also equally true in our small PR world as well. Sooner or later, we will all grow and grab some piece of power by getting elevated to higher positions of an Account Managers, Account Directors, Group Heads or even VPs and start ruling in our own silos. It is here where the problem might arise, as when we grow powerful, we start getting more and more insecure, we start feeling that everyone around is just here to cheat us and we start believing/trusting less in people around us. Then we strike back with vengeance; nail them down so that they remain in our control. Just for us to feel safe, we beat the dogs accusing them of licking utensils. We play politics and do everything in our power to become heads of temples. We are just not able to sit back, look at the micro view and trust people around us.

When we start managing a team, in a business such as PR, where people are our ‘greatest resource’, ‘highest priority’ and the ‘key to performance’, we need to start learning how we make use of our authority in helping people achieve the objectives set by our organization. But the sheer pressure to perform makes it so easy to shelve ‘people matters’. What we fail to understand is that there is much more to being a true leader than achieving a leadership role. A true leader should be judged not by what he has, but by what he does not have—ego, arrogance and self-interest. When it comes time to take credit, he should make himself invisible; but should be the first to answer at the time of need, and he will never shrink away in fear.

We as an industry make a huge hue and cry about the diminishing quality of talent in our industry, but seldom talk about enhancing the level of leadership that can hone and improve the existing talent. So when an untrained talent gets elevated to a level of managing a team, he/she can hardly understand the nuisances of working with people and getting the best out of them. With the same attitude they move up further to take on larger responsibilities, leaving behind the trail of mismanagement.

A true leader is certainly also not just a people pleaser. Even Rama never hesitated to punish offenders who created trouble for his citizens. He should know when to pull-up non-performers, retrain them and at times should also have the courage to weed-out insincere people with wrong attitude.

I understand what said above is nothing new and you must have read and heard such things many a times but sometimes a reminder like these prompt us to do the required course correction to bring alive the authentic leader in you.

Would be happy to hear your views and feedback, do drop a line or tweet @vikramkharvi


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Categorised in: Management, Public Relations, Vikypedia Exclusives

5 Responses »

  1. Not just the Indian philosophy but the western management gurus also proclaim true leaders as the ones who put their ego aside and build a solid loyal team around them. Jim Collins in his famous book ‘Good to Great’ illustrates this point where he shares that the great companies invariably had a leader with great humility.

    Not suggesting that the lessons from Hindu mythology needs to be supported or approved by western theories, but just want to illustrate that your points are so universally true.

    Piyush Jain.

  2. There is a factual mistake. Ram was in Treta Yug, not Satya Yug.

  3. These are universal truths which have stood the test of time through all yugas and will always hold true for the future too. Yet, human behaviour hardly changes. Most people who attain power become power drunk and intoxicated, unable to see that a fall is the natural consequence of heady pride. Nothing is more true today than the renowned British historian Lord Acton’s statement – “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad man.” In fact, as Churchil said, Power (definitely) corrupts, and… In Treta Yuga, even animals could speak and had a right to live and express themselves freely. Their happiness too was the king’s concern. Today, even humans can scream their lungs out to fight for their rights, but there is no Lord Rama around to listen to them. It is just a lot of hot air and wasted energy. Ravana of the Treta Yuga was a thorough gentleman as compared to the Ravanas of today who are busy stuffing their pockets via megascams trampling over one and all. This is Kaliyuga and even our scriptures have predicted that it will end only with Pralaykaal (Doom’s Day). Yet,all hope is not lost.We should be thankful that goodness is not totally dead and there is still some of it around, though sparse. Let’s count our blessings.and be thankful for all the goodness that comes our way. .

  4. It has become a common trend to become insecure in this competitive world and start using some dirty cheap politics on sub-ordinates who are especially faring well. This is commonly seen in IT industry also. Why don’t these guys understand that talent cannot be suppressed? A great leader feels privileged in identifying leaders out of his team and groom them. It should be also a company vision to have a special team which should align with all the managers feedback in identifying future leaders of the company.

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Disclaimer: The thoughts expressed by me in this blog are my personal views and do not represent the views of my employer or the organizations I have been associated with. I believe in the principle of sharing information. Feel free to link to any of the posts in this blog.
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