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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

October - 2007 - issue > Cover Feature

Leading the Ramayana way

Vivek Mansingh
Monday, October 1, 2007
Vivek Mansingh
When the Harvard Business Review (HBR) came out with a survey of 188 MNCs worldwide, in one of its recent editions, on personal capabilities that contribute in the making of a successful leader, I could not help but go back 12,000 years in time to the age of the Ramayana. You might find it rather queer; after all what connection could an article in HBR have with a mythological epic? Before I begin to put that in context, let me state what the aforementioned survey, conducted by Goldman, found.

It said that leaders by their very nature are of six types:
Coercive—meaning ones who compel team members to follow their decisions; authoritative—the ‘come with me’ type; affiliating—ones who work through close association; democratic—those who believe in building consensus; pace-setting—the ‘I will jump and you will follow’ type; and coaching—the ones who believe in mentoring.

The survey found out that with regards to the faculties that go towards making a successful leader, there are three primary ones: Technical skills, cognitive and analytical skills, and emotional intelligence (EI). In their interactions with hundreds of leaders worldwide, the surveyors found EI to be twice as important as the other two attributes. In fact, the importance of EI, which is an embodiment of motivation, empathy, and social skills, increases as one goes up the management chain. It is in this importance of EI that I recognize a similarity with Ramayana. And how!

In the mythical Ramayana, the battle leading to the climax was being played out. Would the exiled Rama edge out the evil Ravana, rescue his wife Sita whom the latter had abducted, and return home to reclaim kingship, or would he face defeat at the hands of Ravana’s massive army?

Rama’s motley group of men and monkeys were no match for the evil Ravana’s forces and weaponry. Or so thought Vibhishan, Ravana’s brother who had defected to Rama’s side. Unable to contain his concerns, he questioned Rama: How will you defeat this huge army with your limited resources? The reply that Rama gave stands out as a great lesson in leadership, more on the role and importance of EI as one can ever come across.

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