Author – Inderjeet Thareja

I recently heard a Diwali related talk by Devdutt Patnaik, who not only makes Indian Mythology interesting but also draws excellent parallels to our life and management topics. His talk made me think about what kind of a leader Lord Ram was, and I decided to pen my thoughts down. Before I begin my journey I want to add a disclaimer, the views in this article are mine only and do not intend to force any religious tonality or feeling.

Leadership is one of the most popular subjects in Management. The leader in earlier times was always the Raja, a ruler or king, this was the person who was responsible for devising order and harmony in the world. One of his key responsibilities was to protect people’s property (in the context, we should consider property may include personal boundaries) and make sure nobody encroached on it.

The questions which were looming in my head were – Is leadership inborn? Can it be inherited or cultivated? Where does one learn leadership in a situational crisis? I had so many questions, and as a coach, I wanted to understand how Lord Ram managed to be such an empowering leader and how he enabled so many in harvesting their inner strength. His ability to create and allocate resources from nothing, which looked like an impossible task and required collaboration, inspired me. He taught me that you don’t have to be born with leadership and in crisis, with the correct beliefs, anyone can be a leading figure.

Lord Ram was a great king, an obedient son, a loving husband and brother, but what set him apart in my eyes were the leadership abilities he possessed amidst crisis. I wanted to make the most of this Diwali and integrate the lessons I’d learnt from an epic ruler. Here are a few of my observations.

Lord Ram -A King who ruled from the front 

Putting this in context, in 2020, we see successful leaders leading from the front. Many examples can be found of people who, during these difficult times in pandemic, showed their leadership prowess. One of the key-values they displayed during the crisis was deliberate calm and bounded optimism. Lord Ram was known for his calm, he not only demonstrated these skills but also possessed humility and never gave it up.

Lord Ram – A leader of the masses 

Lord Ram was a king of the masses who bought parity to many and demonstrated empathy in his actions, whilst giving strength to others. He never discriminated between various classes, Lord Ram was as comfortable being seen with Sugreev-the King of Kishkinda, as he was with Shabari-a woman from a tribal village.

The stories of my childhood only spoke of kings who roamed around in disguise to inspect and get the pulse of their subjects, but Lord Ram was as happy in the jungle as he was living in a palace That highlights to me that a good leader bridges the gap between different classes of people and creates the vision of shared goals.

There are many examples of empathic, social leaders in this world, such as Azim Premji-the philanthropist who gave away a big part of his fortune to charity, Mother Teresa-who was a leader because of her service, and many corporates who now have the CSR function as an important part of their vision statement. We can learn so much from these leaders.

Lord Ram – A Leader who empowered 

Another lesson on effective leadership I learnt from Lord Ram was empowering others, using their strengths to help them build and grow. Lord Ram always put himself at the front, he did not shy away from standing for the right and encouraged those around him to do so as well. He stood by his values and taught me to do so as well.

Lord Ram- A Leader who used influence despite the power 

We all have an influence on others in some way, but we seldom realise the power of this influence. Any leader can choose to use their circle of influence to build the necessary trust, respect, and commitment of others in their organisation.

Lord Ram- A team player

Lord Ram worked along Lakshmana, Hanuman, Vanar sena & even squirrels to build the bridge to reach Lanka. He demonstrated that teamwork was the key to accomplish its mission. Leaders today need to be engaging and must shoulder responsibility with their team, this in turn can create inspired employees.

To conclude, in times of ambiguity, one can learn a lot from their own stories…I myself can think of many more but these were just a few about what I integrated this Diwali. We are surrounded by our stories and the stories of others. These stories have power and life, we can use them to achieve better connections and greater success. I’m inviting you to use stories as a tool in your coaching practice. Recalling, retelling, and revising these stories can stimulate dramatic transformations for individuals around you and your organizations.

So I’m ending here with simply this. . . what’s YOUR story?