Be it business or human activity, the act of bringing people together, popularly known as ‘management’, is broadly defined by five functions—Planning, Organizing, Leading, Organizing, and Coordinating.
Management books and journals may appear to be an en vogue trend. However, the actuality of the same finds its roots in eras that epically existed ages ago. Seers like Tulsidas and Valmiki through Ramayana brought sure-shot management lessons to fore for all and sundry in the contemporary entrepreneurial era.
1. Provide a concrete vision to followers
Like Rama, it is important for all the employers to set and share vision with the followers. This would enable motivation in them to perform because there would be clarity of goals. Even Rama shared vision of bringing Sita back home and for the same he delegated various responsibilities; he sent some as search parties and asked some others to work on the bridge construction.
2. Believe in the ability of subordinates to achieve an aim and inspire them to do so
Against the sophisticated army of Ravana that had vanquished many kings and celebrated a past of defeating devtas, Rama led a multitude of aboriginal tribes which could not be called anything more than a rag-tag army. Even after the constant mocking and jeering, Rama instilled confidence and sustained faith in his troops against the seemingly impossible-to-defeat demonic fleet of Ravana. A leader’s trust in his team is paramount.
3. Treat all people equally
Unlike many princes of that time, Rama mingled with everyone alike regardless of the prevalent norms of lower and upper strata. The untouchability issue never touched him and this helped him strike associations among fishermen and tribal folks as well; this brings us to a very important learner tip: Equality results in loyalty.
4. Stand courageously in the face of great adversity
Following Sita’s kidnap, Rama wandered penniless in the forest. Ramayana speaks of pretty vivid details of Rama’s sadness in Sita’s absence. However, this did not stop him from forging ties with Sugriv and others even in the face of a dilemma when the enemy was unknown.
5. Stand for morality but do not engage in judgmental posturing
Well known for his moral code, Rama endeavored to stand forth for the values he projected. But nowhere in Ramayana, was he depicted as a blind puritan who only wanted his code of conduct in place and rest all be banished. No! Rama was a person of resolve. He chose to suspend judgment at all times. His value systems were different even from his father; Rama had one wife while many other kings including his own father had several. A leader who gives way to creativity as an open field to his team mates is revered more as ‘suspending judgements’ is still the way to go!
6. Consult subordinates on important matters and allow them to give their opinions freely
When Vibhishan ratted out on Ravana, Rama vowed to protect him. He consulted his army chiefs and many suggested Rama that a demon is not to be trusted especially when he is the brother to the culprit. Instead of chiding or rebuking their ideas, Rama neutralized their incredulity and convinced them in his favor. This brings out a very important lesson as everybody felt heard. He empowered his subordinates. Reducing the power differential between an employer and an employee can work wonders.
7. Follow a code of ethics and be ready to sacrifice to follow it
Underpinning the Utopic way of life, Rama chose ethical decision making process in all areas of his life. Many-a-leader build credibility first with sacrifice first to resort to unethical means later. The generation that fought for the nation's independence degenerated into wheelers and dealers after acquisition of power. The political leaders now continue to speak of their glorious ancestral past while seeking votes. Under the surface of that vote appeal, they always seek to hoodwink the multitude in the name of past sacrifices. Rama never did so. The overconfident Ravana on day one was disarmed by Rama’s chivalry but he was allowed to return safely to his citadel unharmed because Rama believed that an unarmed individual must not be attacked.
Thus experiential learning embedded in Ramayana has a lot to teach the upcoming startups than just some MBA prosaic lessons.