powerful people

How to work with a powerful person

How does one work with a powerful king or a leader in today’s corporate world?
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In Arthashastra, you will find Chanakya instructed how power should be used, and even identified when it is being misused. At the same time, he also gave us step-by-step instructions on how a person working under a powerful person must conduct himself.

Chanakya used an analogy to explain power: “Fire, when it reaches another, may burn a part or (at most) the whole body, but a king might kill one along with sons and wife, or might cause one to prosper.” (5.4.17).

This verse has a very deep meaning and, indeed, is one of my personal favourites. It tells you two things at the same time: A leader can destroy you or help you to prosper.

If you are rude to the king then, unlike fire—which can only burn your body—the king’s resultant ire will destroy you completely, including your support system and all future hopes (“…along with sons and wife”).

So how does one work with a powerful king/leader in today’s corporate world? Here are some points to ponder:

Understand the king

This is the first step you should take before you work under someone. Unlike the old monarchy days, we are fortunate enough now to choose our own kings or leaders. So it’s important to choose the right leader.

Once you have selected the leader you would like to work with, it’s important to understand him fully. Closely observe his likes and dislikes, his trends along with his personal and organisational goals.

Once this ‘mental tuning’ is complete, both the leader and the subordinate will have a long win-win association.

Remember: king’s men are stronger than the king

You have to remember this golden rule. Kings are always surrounded by advisors and information providers.

As you get close to the king, you will understand that any leader’s system is dependent on these people. So, as you understand the leader, also try to understand the people who influence him.

It will then become easy for you to tackle any situation. If you become the king’s man, you have an added responsibility to deliver the right information to him.

Be faithful to the king

After following the two steps above, it becomes extremely vital to be faithful to the king too. His power and influence in society can be very helpful to you. It could also destroy you.

Keep in mind that a king will favour only those who have been sincere and dedicated to him. In any set up, ‘trust’ is a key element for getting favours from the king.

You see, leaders are great people who are surrounded by other great people. The sole link is faith and trust. Understand this, and become a great leader yourself.

Dr Radhakrishnan Pillai is an Indian management thinker, author, and Founder of Atma Darshan and Chanakya Aanvikshiki. Dr Pillai has extensively researched Kautilya’s Arthashastra, the 3rd century BC treatise and incorporated it into modern management.

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