30 Sep 2010

A re-think on leadership

Devdutt Pattanaik is a mythologist and illustrator. He is also Chief Belief Officer at Kishore Biyani's Future Group! Yeah sure... That was my reaction at first too. But Devdutt makes some extremely compelling arguments as to how the wisdom inherent in Indian mythological stories and their symbolisms are relevant even today. He has done an interesting TED Talk video on the theme as well.

The following video is from the programme, Business Sutra, on CNBC TV18. (Thanks a ton to my colleague, Shankar, for introducing me to it.)

In this segment Devdutt defines leadership as an evolving role. To demonstrate, he considers four avatars of Vishnu (the most revered of the Hindu Trinity) who appear in four different Yugas (ages or contexts). He then juxtaposes the actions of each avatar with four broad stages of leadership as the organisation and the individual matures. Devdutt's interpretation is that there is no fixed 'correct rules or style' for leadership.

I agree, one hundred percent. True leaders must evolve themselves - or risk stifling instead of enabling their team's success.

Stage One: The Disciplinarian (The avatar is Parasuram)
Stage Two: The Role Model (The avatar is Ram)
Stage Three: The Coach (The avatar is Krishna)
Stage Four: The Mentor (The avatar is Buddha or Kalki, the former representing renunciation of active duty, and the latter representing active liquidation of that which is being led)

If you own a 'How to' book on leadership, this may be a good time to gift it to a rival at the office.

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