What a leader should not do: Cross the line

"Do not favour the wrong even if he is the closest person to you. On the other hand, always support the person who is right even if he is not known to you." - Radhakrishnan Pillai

Continuing from where we left off.

Over the past few weeks, as we were exploring the leadership qualities described by Chanakya, a regular reader wrote to me that these series should have been named “‘What a leader should DO’, it would have sounded more positive.”

The reason for keeping it as ‘NOT DO’ was more by design rather than default. The human mind works in a certain pattern and studies reveal that we become more alert with negative words.

Words such as danger, death, and destruction have the power to move a person from lethargy to activity. So continuing this ten-part series, we now look at a few more things a leader should NOT do…

“Reasons for dissatisfaction of subjects: By doing harm to principal men and dishonouring those worthy of honour, by opposing the elders, by partiality and falsehood.” (7.5.19-26)

In the above verses, the emphasis is on three key areas: respect for elders, not being partial to anyone, and not taking to falsehood.

Respecting elders and principle men

A society that does not respect elders and men of knowledge cannot survive for long. The Sanskrit word for elders is ‘Vriddha. The word elder here has two meanings: One, a person who is elder by age, and second, a person who is elder by wisdom. It is natural to respect any person who is elder to us by age. We find that, across Asian cultures, respecting elders have been considered a noble and high virtue. However, there are young people with lot of knowledge or wisdom who command respect. Even these are ‘Vriddhas.

One of the reasons for young managers from top business schools landing high salaries and top positions is the knowledge they bring into the companies. Such young but senior people should always be respected and never dishonoured. Do not oppose them. Listen to their viewpoints before taking any decision.

Not being partial

In conflict management, the best thing to do is to do what is ‘correct’. Do not favour the wrong even if he is the closest person to you. On the other hand, always support the person who is right even if he is not known to you. Partiality demoralises everyone in an organisation. So be even-minded, and take an objective view before making any move in life.

Not supporting falsehood

Satyameva Jayate, says the Indian national emblem. But almost everyone thinks this cannot be practiced in today’s world. That is not true. The reality is that we do not have the patience to wait for long. All top companies that practise good governance look for long-term benefits. Focusing on research and development, people, strategy over tactics are key aspects of success for such organisations. So should you.




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