Tata-Dhan Academy: PDM

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Programme in Development Management

Practicing Five Teachings from the Gita in Management

Painting of Arjuna and Krishna meeting Karna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra retrieved from http://bit.ly/gyfg4p.

Shrimad Bhagwad Gita is such a piece of motivation that every time I visit it, I find new things to ponder and practice. The Gita deals with management—not with the perspective of factors of production, but with a focus on self: the core of all management. This time, I have taken five sharp lessons from Gita, which can benefit us in our daily affairs, especially in the art of management. In the lessons that follow, familiarity of the reader with Shrimad Bhagwad Gita and the epic Mahabharata is assumed.

Choice of Words

Words can win hearts and wars. The war of the Mahabharata owes its origin to many incidents, one of which is the case where Dhritrashtra unconsciously used the words maamkah (my sons) and Pandvah (sons of his younger brother Pandu) for his sons and his nephews. This vexed the Pandavas and later proved fatal for the whole generation of the Kauravas. The lesson here is that, under all circumstances, words should be chosen wisely. Words do not only assist in communication; they also expose our mind and personality. In fact, Dhritrashtra correctly addressed the Pandavas by their relation, but they expected to be addressed like sons. Similarly, people should act as they are expected to under social circumstances, and not as they wish to. An example of this can be wearing a smile when we deal with people, irrespective of our state of mind.

Choice of Alternatives

Resources are increasingly becoming scarcer which augments the challenge of managing them. There will always be trade-offs between more than one alternative. This is why it is important to learn how to choose wisely and utilise optimally. Krishna mocks the moment when Duryodhana chose Krishna’s large army for help while Arjuna selected Krishna’s presence and wisdom. Therefore, unlike Duryodhana, a good manager should never fail to see the bigger picture and act wisely to evaluate the alternatives. Evaluation of alternatives is critical to make decisions; this demands patience, wisdom and managerial skills.

Attitude Towards Work

Personalities differ with one’s perspectives. The Gita advocates that everyone should build a visionary perspective in his or her work. One should see the importance of one’s work beyond their desk, organisation, and niche markets, because the importance extends to society in general. It is defined in the subtle concepts of Swadharma, Vidharma, and Adharma. It suggests that while one does some work, they should not get preoccupied with the outcomes. It advises non-attachment to the results of actions performed while remaining accountable for the output of one’s duty. It says that by acting without attachment, one can accomplish distant outcomes. An attachment sprouts ego in our work and detachment generates emancipation from the harmful energies.

It further advises us to perform our actions with a feeling of love to the Divine and emphasises that all work should be taken as a service to God. To excel in the performance of the work, the best way is to immerse oneself in the work so much that it no longer appears as work (karma) but rather, a duty (dharma). This gives rise to a value system in the work of an individual.

Decision-making Process

When Arjuna fails to convince himself to wage war against his elders, Krishna assists him to make a decision. The Gita talks about the righteous decision-making process. It says that in the midst of a tempest, one needs to take decisions, and those should be righteous. In difficult circumstances, one should be guided by the principle to refrain from thoughts that may make her weak, either physically or psychologically. Faith in self and dharma (ethical action) guides the way to making better decisions. This will not only streamline the process and minimise the use of resources, but also ultimately lead to better outcomes.

Social Good

The fact remains that while doing great work, one needs a great amount of energy and motivation. A person may run out of energy and motivation when he is doing something for personal gains, but he will always be driven by higher energies when he is able to see the larger interests of the world. Krishna taught Arjuna to fight against his elders not with the intention of sheer personal pursuits of materialism, but for Lok-kalyan: the good of many, with a firm belief in the virtue of ethics (dharma) over unethical actions. Moreover, work done for personal gains delivers a certain set of benefits which may outweigh the cost but works done for the common good reaps a quantum of benefits so great that it overthrows all the costs. Thus, the margin always remains high in the actions of Lok-kalyan. Sensing the responsibility of the work, a manager should ideally be able to evade negative mental states like greed, anger, jealousy, hate, and suspicion.

Kunj Bihari Pratap

References

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