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10 Leadership Lessons from the Ramayana

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Ramayana, which is one of the most read epic scriptures, throws light upon various dimensions of life including crucial leadership aspects. In its several instances, running through seven Kandas, Ramayana offers some significant lessons for leadership roles writes Dr Nitesh Dhawan

Beginning from Bal Kanda, one of the key takeaways is that a leader should be a person with strong character, a man of integrity and honesty. He should have people’s confidence and the one whom people could rely upon.

One of the important attributes that Ayodhya Kanda emphasizes is that before taking control of power, a leader should have patience and composure to take charge of new responsibilities. Another critical thing to take care of, is one’s mental strength that could overcome any sort of unfavourable situations.  Men who easily lose their heads, and who go all to pieces in difficult or strainful situations are weaklings, and are not to be depended upon in emergency.

The test of a large well-balanced man is that he does not change materially with changed situations or hardships do not throw him off his balance, because he is centred in principle. Thus, mental poise indicates power, because poise is the result of mental harmony. Coming on to the Aranya Kanda, one can understand the way to take decisions by following one’s conscience in times of indecisiveness. There are times when a leader faces conflict and ambiguity and that is where a true leader takes a path based on his inner-voice. This also means that a leader is true to his own self.

People in authority do have to face challenging situations and are some times bogged down under pressure situations. They show a flight-response or an escaping tendency during these circumstances.

But Kishkindha Kanda reiterates that a true leader should always show a fighting spirit that helps to boost up the morale of his team members and never shy away in confronting with hostile situations. Then it emphasizes upon the time -management aspect which is so crucial for a leader in order to perform diversified tasks for which it is essential to control one’s sleep, show persistent efforts, not indulging in gossip and knowing exactly when to say no to others. This would definitely help to prioritize and manage one’s duties in a time-bound manner. Further, for a leader to succeed in attaining organizational goals, he should have a clear vision and set an example by leading from the front. He should adopt a goal-oriented approach and should be ready to make sacrifices, if needed.

Sunder Kanda beautifully describes the key attributes of a true leader to achieve success that includes, vigilant attitude, dynamism, efficacy, dedication, empathy and the fighting spirit. After success, a leader should remain humble to give credit to his team members and not become complacent. It also warns that a leader should be cautious of flattering from people close to him and watchful of one’s enemies.  The Lanka Kanda clearly spells out that it is the intent and policies of the organizational leadership that determines the future of its success or failure. Finally in the Uttar Kanda, there is a message for a leader to follow the path of truthfulness and remain level-headed during all situations.

Thus, Ramayana has undeniably some wonderful lessons for the leaders, which in a nutshell could be summarized as: 

  • 1.     Don’t repose trust in a person having dubious character or involved in misconduct to lead.
  • 2.    Patience is a key pre-requisite for a leadership position.
  • 3.    A leader having patience, self-confidence, clarity of thought and one who is unperturbed by adversities, can turnaround situation into one’s favour.
  • 4.     A leader’s vital guiding force is his conscience which can direct him to a true path.
  • 5.      Never hesitate to show brave face during struggle, adverse situations, pressure or stressful circumstances.
  • 6.      Perseverance, avoiding procrastination and criticism of others, and knowing when to say no is important in time-management.
  • 7.       Clarity in thought process, selfless devotion and a focused approach is required to accomplish goals.
  • 8.        For a leader to succeed, six traits are essential that includes- vigilance, proactiveness, competence, resilience, devotion and sensitivity.
  • 9.       Policies determine the victory or a loss of a leader.
  • 10.      Be cautious of sycophants and rivals.

The success of any organization, state or nation is largely dependent upon the leader who leads it. Though there are several other factors that determine the fate of any institution, but first among all is the individual who is at the helm of it, defining the character of the organization through his words and actions. These leadership lessons could serve as a guide for the future leaders as well as people working in cutting-edge positions to transform and grow in a positive manner.

  (Author is a Public Servant, Author and Educator. He contributes regularly to our publication)

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