Leadership Development

About Leadership Development, the third pillar at Bṛhat

Leadership Development

लौकिकानां हि साधूनाम् अर्थं वागनुवर्तते।
ऋषीणां पुनराद्यानां वाचमर्थोनुधावति॥

In the case of ordinary beings, the words follow the meaning.
For ṛṣis, the meaning follows their words.
उत्तररामचरितम्; भवभूति | Uttararāmacaritam; Bhavabhūti

An 8th century Indian poet made a ‘Truth claim’. He would have us believe that what the ṛṣis speak, becomes the Truth. He sees it as clearly as daylight from his reading of Rāmāyaṇa. He had no hesitation, no irony, no anxiety in stating it.

How does a modern mind react to such a claim? What is the anchor for a modern mind to drop irony, to ‘see’ the truth as it is. Do we have the stories, the role-models, the very means to imagine such exaltation.

Do we have an ideal?

An impossible ideal that is held up as perfection, an exemplar to try and emulate. To perfect the world, through our stumbling, as Śri Aurobindo exhorted us to.

That is of the ṛṣis, but what of the Kings. Surely, they are more ‘pragmatic’.

कृतं त्रेतायुगं चैव द्वापरं कलिरेव च।
राज्ञो वृत्तानि सर्वाणि राजा हि युगमुच्यते॥

The actions of the king constitute the Kṛta, the Tretā, the Dvāpara and the Kali cycles; as it is the king that is called the ‘cycle.’
मनुस्मृति | Manusmṛti 301 – 302

The king is called ‘the cycle’, a force who shapes time through action. Does the modern mind have a theory of time to grasp the import, can it take an intuitive leap to ‘perceive’ the multi-dimensional nature of time and its complexity.

But, why is this exploration even necessary?

In our hyper-connected, competitive world of globalised politics, economics, and business, creativity is disproportionately rewarded and mediocrity is unsparingly punished.

Evolution in citizen and consumer preferences and tastes significantly outpaces the ability to build competencies required to deliver experiences that match such inflated expectations.

Sustaining in this environment requires a recognition that ‘complexity thinking’ in the ‘paradigms of the future’, is a strategic imperative. These paradigms of the future would be truly multi-disciplinary drawing from fields such as Philosophy, Psychology, Design, Business Strategy, Sociology, Policy making, Law, Mass communication, and so on.

Combining a nuanced understanding of these with the power of digital technologies would be critical. In short, political leaders, business heads, cultural entrepreneurs – All of them need to inhabit the imagination of people, they need to acquire mind-share.

The key ingredient to succeed in this environment is Leadership that is knowledgeable, humble and committed – Jim Collins calls this ‘Level-5’ leadership.

Decision making in a complex environment and ability to lead cross-functional teams to collaborate creatively would count as the most important leadership skill of the future.

If this is the premise, how do we then cultivate leadership that can engage in ‘complexity thinking’, remain humble, earn and retain trust.

This is possible only when we invest in and create significantly greater human potential than we are able to currently. What constitutes such ‘human-potential’ then. At a fundamental level, it boils down to mind, faculties of cognition, and faculties of action. Antaḥkaraṇa and Bāhyakaraṇa.

When the 8th century poet made that assertion about ṛṣis, that what they uttered came to pass, he wasn’t indulging in a fancy but stating that standing on the great perch and from the shades of a ‘Knowledge System’ that has understood the Mind, Senses and Time deeply.

As we deal with planetary scale complexity in the 21st century, we hark back on the very same fundamental elements that make up our essential constitution – Our physical, cognitive, emotional, psychological selves but all of them wrapped up in a spiritual core.

At Bṛhat, our theory of leadership anchors on our civilizational knowledge systems. We believe that our civilizational idea of education as bringing out the ‘perfection inherent in man’ is the kernel that can regenerate the planet.

We can no longer remain as mimic men as V.S. Naipaul would say. We ought not to be under the colonial yoke any longer if we have to generate any work that is of superior quality. How can something original emerge from blind emulation? What is the Indic way of approaching a learning, of discerning, and creating?

We must familiarize ourselves with our civilizational script. We must tell our stories in our own way. Our art has always been an effort to bring us closer to the macro, to the one unifying force, nay, our art attempts at every turn to turn us into the gods we pray to!

None of this is possible without having the medhā śakti the ability to learn, imbibe, internalize, discern and grow.

To turn contributor and creator from merely being a consumer all the time. We give back through our work and through wealth creation, we give back in various moods that we evoke in the readers, the audience, the buyers. Ultimately what we do and what we produce is but a joyous expression of who we are – sat cit ānanda – we are the complete self. Let us then showcase a bit of that and bring joy in people’s lives. In our journey and in the destination we seek, let us adhere to a moral compass from being lead astray, let us follow our dharma that will keep us within our maryādā yet help us reach great heights.

Learning not to give up at the sight of the first hurdle, as well as keeping our word is of primary importance, prāṇa jāye para vacana nā jāye – how many times have we heard this mantra that is the hallmark of our ethos! We must be discerning in our dealings and embody Rāma in every sense of the term; to practise love of the elders, the family and friends above all, yet having the ability to surrender everyone and everything for the sake of keeping one’s promise! To have the courage to give up individual pleasures for the good of society. Do we have that integrity, that grit, that determination? Do we have the diplomacy and the cheerfulness of Kṛṣṇa, the smarts to get things going come what may. Let us learn to discern by going back to our Purāṇas, our Epics, they will help us find archetypes who will model for us the right responses and attitudes. We have the path well laid out, we simply have to know where to look.

In conclusion, when we do not consider the other as the ‘other’, when we start from a position of unity, most problems in life are resolved. there can only be cooperation from here on, say goodbye to competition, to negative vibes and ugly feelings. Let us create with the power of the daśamahā vidyās, by removing rāga dveṣas within us; our pride and prejudices, with the help of the navadurgās let us access devi’s powers. Let us contemplate on the various forms of Hanumān, the son of vāyu, the life force in us, to assist us in our ventures, without prāṇa we are dead, literally. And always stay with Sarasvatī, who starts it all…she flows through us…may we be her channel…oh you who resides in Kashmir, may you, oh! the one in white, guide us…our work emanates from us but influences our family, our kula, our grāma, our deśa, our brahmā, nothing happens in isolation, we must tread carefully but purposefully to make an impact.

We are all leaders, says Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad Gītā 3.21, we must always behave in such a way that we do not showcase wrong behaviour or become a wrong example to those who are looking up to us, watching us. Great expectations indeed! But that is the Indic vision, the vision of Bṛhat.

यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जन:। स यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते॥
Whatever actions great persons perform, common people follow. Whatever standards they set, all the world pursues.