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Tips for staying at the top

It is easy to get to the top but difficult to stay there. Once you are in a leader’s position, the whole dynamics of the game changes. It is a matter of maintaining your achievement. Kautilya was aware of this fact, and hence, guided the leaders in how to avoid his and his organisations’ downfall.

He points out, “Control over senses, which is motivated by training in the sciences, should be secured by giving up lust (Kaam), anger (Krodha), greed (Lobha), pride (Mana), arrogance (Madh), and over-excitement (Harsha).” (1.6.1)

A leader is carefully watched by every person around him. Apart from the external observers like the media and intelligence agencies, his team members also watch every move he makes. All his subordinates look upon him as a role model. Such a leader should be careful in his private as well as his public life. As Stephen Covey says in the book Seven habits of highly effective people, “Private victory leads to Public victory.”

A leader’s success is maintained by control over the senses. For this, Kautilya pointed out the following six negative aspects that need to be avoided:

Maintaining a cool head is very essential. A short-tempered leader is neither appreciated nor liked by his team members.


Lust (Kaam)

Lust is the deep hunger for any object which comes from over-attachment. People at the top level are carried away by the lust for power. That is why it is recommended that they should be able to identify the new leaders and train them. Leaders should slowly evolve into mentors guiding the new generation to take over.

Anger (Krodha)

Maintaining a cool head is very essential. A short-tempered leader is neither appreciated nor liked by his team members. Such a person is very unpredictable. One should be able to control oneself in all circumstances, most importantly in public.

Greed (Lobha)

Mahatma Gandhi had rightly said, “There is enough in this world for every person’s need but not enough for one man’s greed”. Satisfaction does not mean complacency. He should be dynamic, yet not get carried away by only material gains. He should also focus on the social and spiritual contributions he is making along the way.

Pride (Mana)

Even at the top, a leader should be able to initiate more and more projects, however, a sense of “I am the doer” should not be entertained. He should understand that, after all, his success is an effort of teamwork. A high egoist leader is sure to lose his team members in the long run.

Arrogance (Madh)

An arrogant leader will always take the credit for the successes, while he would blame failures on others. Instead, he should share the benefit of success with everyone. His motto should be, “It is ‘we’ who succeed not ‘I’.”

Over excitement (Harsha)

A leader should never get over-excited. Too much expression of emotions like, sadness or happiness has to be avoided. When the whole world is on fire, it is only the one with a balanced mind who comes forward with a solution for putting it off.

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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