Krishna’s Inspirations for Corporate Leadership

Krishna, revered as the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu in Hindu mythology, is one of the central characters of Mahabharata. He is known for his wisdom and statesmanship. Pandavas won the war of Mahabharata despite the fact that Kauravas had better collection of champion warriors and much better military strength, which could be largely attributed to Krishna’s strategic interventions in favour of Pandavas at crucial junctures during the eighteen day-long war. 

Without Krishna’s pragmatic wisdom it would have been impossible for the Pandavas to vanquish Bhishma and Dronacharya, two of the greatest warriors on the side of Kauravas. It was Krishna’s idea to bring Shikhandi at the forefront of Arjuna in Arjuna’s decisive battle against Bhisma on the 10th day of the Mahabharata war. 

Strategic and Pragmatic

As Bhisma vowed not to fight with Shikhandi as Shikhandi was originally a woman, the great warrior couldn’t counter Arjuna’s arrows effectively too and fell on the battlefield, riddled with arrows of Arjuna. Similarly being instrumental in spreading the rumour that Dronacharya’s son Aswatthama had been killed in the battlefield, Krishna played a big role in Drona abandoning his weapons, which gave  Dhrishtadyumna the opportunity to behead an unarmed Drona.

Krishna used an effective war strategy to vanquish Karna and Duryodhana too, which led to the Pandavas’ victory in the eighteen-day-long war. 

In post-modern day corporate warfare too, today’s and tomorrows’ business leaders could get inspired by Krishna and use the weakness or weaknesses of one’s rival corporate player/s to outsmart them in the competitive marketplace.

Avoiding Confrontation 

In order to avoid war with Jarasandh, Krishna did shift his capital from Mathura to Dwarka, which showed his sagacity in choosing peace over confrontation, if it is avoidable. 

Krishna also played the role of mediator between Pandavas and Kauravas in order to avoid the big war, which showed his preference for peace over war.

This could also be a great lesson for leaders and managers in the corporate world of today and tomorrows. They, like Krishna, should avoid confrontation with their competitors in the market (say an irrational price war) or with their co-workers in the office (say over a coveted promotion), especially those clashes which can have potential to incur huge loss to their company, in terms of apparent and hidden costs.

Motivational Skills

It was Krishna’s out-of-the-world motivational skills which convinced Arjuna, possibly the best warrior on the Pandavas’ side, to take up arms in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. 

In the corporate space, the leaders could get inspired by Krishna and should motivate their team members and clear doubts clouding their mind, especially in the face of challenging situations. Inspiring motivation by corporate leaders in turn could greatly increase the chance of their team members to perform at their best, even in demanding circumstances. 

Armed with Crucial Information 

Krishna helped Bheema to eventually kill Jarasandha as he had the crucial information about how to slay Jarasandha, which he imparted to Bheema symbolically. In the long fight between Bheema and Jarasandha, the former killed the latter multiple times but every time Jarasandha recovered to life. Bheema then looked at Krishna for guidance. Then Krishna, who knew how Jarasandha could be killed, took a twig, broke it into two halves and threw it far apart in opposite directions. Bheema too split Jarasandha’s body in two halves and threw it far apart in opposite directions, which finally led to Jarasandha’s death. 

The long-drawn fight with gory ending for Jarasandha can have great relevance in today’s corporate parlance. A good corporate leader, like Krishna, should be armed with the right information through which she/he can direct or guide her/his team members to successfully navigate through complex problems. Of course, in order to arm oneself with the right information in this fast-changing world, continual learning and unlearning is the key.

Gleaning Right HR and Knowledge 

Before the beginning of the Mahabharata’s war, Krishna tried to convince Karna to fight for the Pandavas as he was well aware of Karna’s valour and military prowess. Corporate leaders of today and tomorrow could get inspired by Krishna to try to get the best human resource, even if it is from rival companies, to further their own company’s growth. 

Similarly, after the war was over and Pandavas emerged victorious, Krishna instructed Yudhishtra to approach Bhisma who was sleeping on a bed of arrows, and take Bhisma’s wise guidance on effective governance of a kingdom. This shows Krishna’s flexibility of mind. Similarly, today’s and tomorrows’ corporate leaders and managers should urge their team to try to glean and imbibe relevant information and knowledge even from outside sources, yes, even if it comes from their competitors in the market.

The Role of Detachment

Finally, Krishna’s saying in Gita of doing one’s karma with detachment to the results can help the leaders to prevent frustration and disillusionment from seeping among their team members, which if set, can impede both productivity and quality of work. This in turn can hamper the bottom lines or reputation of the company concerned.

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