Evolving from Manager to a Business Leader: Characteristics of 'Yogic Perspectives'& 'Vedic Philosophy'.

AuthorBhattacharyya, Som Sekhar


Indian civilization has survived continuously for thousands of years (Sen, 1999). In any society leadership prevailed in organizing it towards achieving a meaningful objective specially for a country like India with such a long and rich history (Bhattacharyya & Jha, 2018). Civilizations that prospered were led by great leaders while the civilizations that perished were often the victims of poor leadership (Thoroughgood, Sawyer, Padilla & Lunsford, 2018; Butzer, 1980; Luthans, Peterson & Ibrayeva, 1998). Business organizations are a part of the society and civilization. The effect of leadership has been pronounced for business organizations (Bhattacharyya, Chaturvedi & Chaturvedi, 2009). This can be emphasized with a good example like Apple to poor one like Enron (Isaacson, 2012; Friedman, 2010; Seeger & Ulmer, 2003). Substantial amount of literature has deliberated on what are the attributes of a good, healthy leadership and how to achieve the same (Di Fabio & Peiroi, 2018; Jimenez, Winkler & Dunkl, 2017).

Given the perpetuity of Indian civilization over these thousands of years the author believes that there was an element of secret recipe of leadership indigenous to the Indian way of life (Muniapan & Dass, 2009; Bhattacharyya & Jha, 2018). The author based upon literature on yogic perspective in this article develops a yogic perspective on leadership. This has been presented as themes which aspiring or extant leaders could follow to embark on a journey of salubrious leadership. The themes are drawn from 'vedic' and 'yogic' perspectives (Srinivasan, 2005; Peterson, 2000; Selvi & Thangarajathi, 2010; Trivedi, 2017; Chatterji & Zsolnai, 2016).

Theme 1--Quest to Imbibe the Good 'Gunas'

The perspectives on 'Guna' have been based upon the work of scholars like Agarwalla, Seshadri & Krishnan (2015), Kaur & Sinha, (1992) and Kejriwal & Krishnan (2004). A yogic leader like any individual creates an action because of the very nature of being that means the extant 'Guna' that is nature.'Guna' that is the nature of an individual decides the karma (action) (Agarwalla, Seshadri & Krishnan (2015). There are three 'Gunas' viz., 'Tamasa', 'Rajasa' and 'Satva' (Sharma, 1999; Bharvad, 2005). 'Tamasa' means being lethargic. A lethargic individual can never create a proactive, meaningful and mindful action thus, display of lethargy is the worst 'Guna'. An individual who wants to be a leader cannot afford to have 'Tamasa'. 'Rajasa' means aggressive and possessive behavior coupled with pro-action. Business and political leaders are required to display such 'Guna' as it is action oriented and proactive and it entails doing hard work. 'Rajasa' helps business leaders to achieve material gains because of competitive behavior. Thus, 'Rajasik' behavior has positive and desirable connotation. However, 'Satvik' behavior means spiritual behavior which is balanced, it helps an individual to achieve tranquility. An individual with 'Satvik' thoughts would think about competitive business gains however, with only such initiatives that benefits all stakeholders as espoused by stakeholder theory in western literature (Donaldson & Preston, 1995). It is more about a leader thinking not only purely for shareholder gain but for all stakeholders in an inclusive manner. A 'Rajasik' leader might undertake actions that are good for only stakeholders (that is pure business gains). However, a 'Satvik' leader would achieve business gains while accommodating stakeholder gains. A Yogic leader demonstrates moderation in all activities that is a balance in life (Bennis & Townsend, 1989).

A yogic leader must be aware of the elements of 'Deva Guna' (Godly characteristics) and 'Asura Guna' (devil characteristics) that are inherent in human beings (Srivastava, 2012). A leader influences followers as is the very definition of a leader. 'Asura Guna' reflects the characteristics of anger and punishment to motivate others as epitomized by demonic manifestations (Virkler& Virkler, 1977). 'Deva Guna, ' on the other hand, reflects a behavior full of mutual love, respect, a notion of spontaneous duties and responsibilities (Srivastava, 2012). If a leader demonstrates 'Asuric' behavior it will alienate and offend others and create disharmony in the group. A leader demonstrating 'Asuric' behavior might be able to achieve targets in the short run, but in the long run the disharmony would manifest beyond control and achieve subpar results. A leader demonstrating 'Deva Guna' would motivate others through affection and respect. A 'Deva Guna' following leader would encourage others to perform so that they can gain individually as well for the organization as a whole. Individual progress happens because of gain of knowledge, experience and respect from team members (Andolsen, 2008). Followers would achieve hierarchical organizational position gains and monetary benefits (Gabriel, 2015). Organizational gain transpires through increased market share, profit, trust, image and goodwill in the industry and amongst stakeholders (Gachteret al., 2012). A leader leading with 'Deva Guna' would gain the goodwill of stakeholders whereas a leader with 'Asura Guna' will gain goodwill of only the shareholders and that too in the short run.

Theme 2--'Nirdwanda'-To achieve 'Nitya Sanyasa'

An individual evolves as a leader because she undertakes complex, uncertain, non-routine and high-stake decisions (Maxwell, 2002). Leaders have to, thus, have a balanced state of mind at all times so that they can best judge and deliver the best results (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 2011; Bottles, 2001). In the epic Mahabharat, when Yudhisthira had lost his four Pandava brothers, he approached Yaksha to free the Panadava brothers (Menon, 2013). Yaksha, in order to ascertain the case, asked Yudhisthira when you are in great trouble who is your best friend? Yudhistira answered--a balance state of mind and self-confidence (Rajagopalachari, 1972...

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