Whenever somebody talks about Hindu mythology, 2 names certainly come up in our minds, Ramayan and Mahabharat. They were concerned to Ram and Krishn, incarnations of Lord Vishnu and central characters of their respective epics. We always think of them as masters of universe and fail to see other traits of their symbolist life. Ram, also known as Maryada Purshottam represents behavior of ideal man, husband, son and even a leader. While Krishn, who is also known as Purn Purshottam broke all the rules, even those which were made by himself. They not only conducted their lives in completely different manner but they also represented completely different styles of leadership. Lord Ram’s leadership was inclined towards idealistic rules, he followed all the leadership values that are taught in textbooks right now. His ideology can be understood by his decision of pronouncing death sentence, which was one of the terms of his promise to Kaal (spirit of time), to his brother Laxman for interrupting his conversation.
On the other hand Krishn believed that rules must be broken if they tend to disturb society’s equilibrium. Whether it is code of conduct in battle field that is casted aside for a noble purpose (killing of Karn in Mahabharat) or even if it is running away from a duel (running away from Jarasandh when he attacked Mathura). He considered rules set by contemporary religious cults rather as guidelines that can be discarded if the situation demands so. Lord Ram once told Vibhishan, when questioned about his army’s competence against Ravan’s arsenal, that character, courage, ethics, and valor are the 4 wheels of your life. If any one of your wheel is dysfunctional, you will easily lose the path that is made for you. On the other end, as most of know, how Lord Krishn broke protocols of battle not 1 but many times.
Although being leaders in contrasts, there are some striking similarities in the merits associated with their leadership skills. Krishn told Arjun in the battlefield that if dharm or goodwill is desired outcome of the war, then the way you motivate yourself and your army is should be of primary concern. This war has to be fought for good of whole as a motivating factor and not anger or personal gain. Hence, ends will not be justified by means. Same was the reason (one of many) why Hanuman didn’t was not told to bring Seeta with him when he went to Lanka. Ram had full confidence on his devotee, but this was not the right way. The essence that both the stories present to us is that achieving your goal is as important as the avenue you follow.
Certainly today in India, management schools find it easier to produce a source of inspiration from one of many fancy names like Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, etc. and some appreciate lesser known leaders like Anwar Sadat etc. We do not want to talk about these epics in any other context except praising popular TV shows made on them for afraid of getting mocked by our friends and acquaintances. But I believe rather than doing case studies outside, let’s peep into our history. I am pretty sure that Ved Vyasa and Valmiki has put ample knowledge in their works that is yet to be deciphered.