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Key to leadership is setting an example for others to follow

Being an expert in political science and even statesmanship, Chanakya emphasised the importance of discipline in a governance system. However, he also knew that the ministers and bureaucrats would have to follow the rules themselves.

Therefore, Chanakya had said: “The administrator and the magistrates should first keep in check the heads of departments and their subordinates.” (3.18.1)

Let us see why this is necessary and how it applies in our offices and organisations.

Discipline starts from the top

If you are the boss, you are the sole rule-maker. But then you should be the first follower of any rule. One cannot set policies and just insist that others follow them. Discipline starts with you. When you become self-disciplined, others also get disciplined automatically.

Leaders are followed

A leader’s position is a very critical and sensitive one. Your subordinates do not just do what you say—they follow your every action! You are always observed minutely by people around you.

If the leader is highly enthusiastic, the subordinates will also be enthusiastic. If the leader is lazy and slack in doing his duties, so will be his subordinates.

The same thought had been brought out in the Geeta when Lord Krishna said: “Whatever standard the leader sets, others follow.” So set high standards, and make sure you follow it yourself.

An ‘unforgivable’ mistake

Always remember one thing: Small mistakes are not small if committed by people at the top rung of an organisation. That’s because such actions impact the entire organisation.

Chanakya went to the extent of stating that if a common man commits a mistake, the punishment is one unit (like one year). But if the same mistake is committed by the leader, the punishment is four units.

This is because—in the leadership position—it becomes a mistake of the group. Hence, a leader should think twice before taking any decision

A leader with a vision is the prime requirement of any good company, organisation or society. The next step is to make his visions a reality.

This happens through hard work and the ability to take others along with you in a spirit of dedication to the eventual goal. And all this comes through self-discipline.

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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