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Management Leadership Through Bhagwat Gita

Management Leadership Through Bhagwat Gita
Item Code: NAH121
Author: Arun Kumar
Publisher: Spring Books
Language: English
Edition: 2004
ISBN: 8188817139
Pages: 236
Cover: Paperback
Other Details: 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
About the Book

In the last three decades some university teachers of management pondered over the application of ancient Indian Wisdom to modern Industry and Commerce. The present work is an attempt in this direction. It seeks to explore, formulate 'and systematise the principles, processes and techniques of effective Management Leadership as given in the Bhagawad Gita. It develops an Indian Model of Management Leadership through critical and comparative evaluation of the Gita Text and comparable Indian and Western Ideas. In order to check the effectiveness of the Gita system, the author has used a closed ended opinion poll questionnaire filled up by management consultants, managers and supervising engineers within NCR. The book explores, identifies and formulates the wisdom of Gita in the fields of Leadership and Team Building ; Philosophy of Life ; Work Ethics; Decision Making, Motivation, Communication, Business Policy and Human Relationships.

About the Author

A Chartered Account ant by training, Dr. Arun Kumar, FCA, Ph.D., has been working in several Multi National Companies during the last decade. Visiting the Middle East and the UK he had occasion to observe the working of Business Organisations in these countries. Author of several books in Commerce, Dr. Arun Kumar is particularly interested in the application of Indian wisdom to modern trade and industry. His Ph.D. work has been appreciated by scholars in India and abroad.


The efficacy of Management leadership in the growth of any industry has been unquestionably established today. At this juncture, three pertinent questions arise: Firstly, Is Management merely a concern of modern scientific knowledge? Secondly: Is the Western Model of Business Management universally valid? Thirdly, can there be an Indian Model of Business Management ?

Need of Going Beyond Science
To the first question, contemporary thinkers in East and West have contended that besides modern scientific knowledge, Management may derive its lessons from ancient wisdom. As Sri Aurobindo has said, "Science is a right knowledge in the end, only of processess." Therefore he concludes, "Only by an extension of the field of consciousness and an unhoped for increase in our instruments of knowledge, can the ancient querrel be decided."

It is heartening to note that most of the contemporary writers in futurology have admitted the possibility of such an extension of consciousness. In his Best seller book "Seizing the future" Michael Gey has admitted "the concept of supra-sensory potential something far beyond ESP for humanity to conquor, transform and enrich all that appears across its landscape."

Value of Ancient Wisdom
Einstein had observed that knowledge of 'what is' does not automatically lead to an understanding of what should be the goal of aspiration. Philosophical insights are needed to compensate the scientific outsights. This had been the central quest of Indian culture since ancient times. As Sri Aurobindo puts it, "The problem which Indian culture had to solve was that of a firm outward basis on which to found the practical development of its spirit and its idea in life." The degradation of ancient wisdom by the zealots of science has led P.A. Sorokin to remark, "Much the same has been produced by the wholesale relativization and degradation of legal and ethical norms that has occurred in the Western Culture of the past four centuries." The highly exteriorised, technology opiated modern mind rejects the ancient wisdom as 'prescientific', i. e., irrational. Therefore, Schumacher remarks, "In other words, as long as we persist in our arrogance, which dismisses the entirety of the traditional wisdom as prescientific and therefore not to be taken seriously, fit only for the museum, there is no basis for any education other than training for worldly success." Pointing out the relevance of older social systems, norms and values to contemporary problems, M.V Patwardhan points out that the problems of man versus man and of man versus himself may be successfully solved by ancient wisdom than modern science. Authors like P. Goldberg and C. Humphery are today admitting that "We are gaining new respect for those ancient voices and are coming to understand that the sages may have intimated eternal principles." and, "the intellect is found in time to be strictly finite, to be limited in its approach to truth, to fail to go all the way." The latest modern approach to Management known as Total Quality Management (TQM) has supported the value of intuitive methods in addition to empirical techniques. In his book Buddhiyoga of Gita, Anirvan remarks, "Consciousness which is accustomed to a forward movement in its relations with the objective world, can be trained to lean back more and more on the subjective aspect of its experience, on the intuitive comprehension of the meaning underlying it." Such intuitive comprehension was the method of the author of Bhagawad Gita.

Management Through Intuitive Truths
Thus contemporary thinkers in East and West, are accepting that Management is not only a concern of modern scientific knowledge, but it may also benefit by holistic, integral and intuitive approach, characteristic of Bhagawad Gita. As McGinnis puts it, "The three issues of intelligence, organizational balance and analysis are primarily analytical, rational, systematically oriented activities. On the other hand, the three issues of innovation, pro activity and risk taking are primarily holistic, intuitive oriented activities." As B.G. James, a Business manager asserts, "No battle for markets hare has yet been won by a formula or a computer they have been won in the final analysis by hard fighting and by the practical handson experience of an executive who is able to make the intutively right decisions at the right place at the right time." Ohmae, a Japanese management consultant, has written about 'intuitive grasp', 'instructive strategist' and the like. Herbert Simon used the phrase "bounded rationality' in this context. More recently, Russel Ackoff and J. Gharajedaghi also emphasized the need for a non-analytical approach for synthetic thinking, so characteristic of Bhagawad Gita.

Management Through Personality Integration
Thus an ideal manager should be a wisdom worker. In the words of S.K. Chakraborty, "A wisdom worker and an integrated personality are, for our purposes, synonymous. A manager can not be wise without being integrated ; an integrated personality cannot but be wise." Such is the Sthitaprajna of Gita. As Geraldine Coster remarks, "So, with the inertia and over-activity of the mind, the manager is expected to observe these opposites in mental tendency, and with practice and persistence to acquire holding the mind itself calm, like the surface of a lake, unclouded by mist and unruffled by wind." Bhagawad Gita abounds in techniques for reaching such a mental state, necessary for sound decision making.

Is the Western Model Universally Valid ?
Now, we come to our second question. Is the Western model of management universally valid? The management personnel, overawed by western models, should note. that barely a couple of hundred years ago most of the west was premodern. Europe was dirty, pestilence ridden and largely illiterate. It did not graduate from it by its cultural ethics, but by harsh logic imposed by the market. Therefore, the European Model can hardly claim to be universally valid. As Gautam Adhikari points out, 'Asia's allegedly superior moral values are seen by some to facilitate rapid development." The Japanese have been Japanising Western Management ideas for several decades. Even the Americans have begun Americanizing some of the attractive features of Japanese management. Both nations are quite clear that grafting will not and does not work on the human side of management. Thus, it is clear that no western model of Management, European on American, is universall valid.

Is Indian Model of Management Possible?
This brings us to our third question: Can there be an Indian Model of Management? The present work is an attempt to answer this question on the basis of Bhagawad Gita. But this question has been already answered in affirmative about a decade back. On Feb. 20-21, 1987, a workshop on "Human Response Development :

Indian Insights" was held at IIM, Calcutta, under the guidance of S.K. Chakraborty. The 30 participants who included professors from IIM Calcutta, several famous managers, Chairmen of Industries and principals and teachers at famous management institutions arrived at the following conclusions :

1. Work Ethics: Students should be educated about the distinction between work ethics and ethics in work while imbibing the spirit of Nishkam Karma to stimulate duty orientation and selflessness in lieu of rights orientation.

2. Quality of work life (QWL): Quality of life precedes quality of work life.

3. Leadership and Team Building: Students should be steeped in the value oriented giving model for assuming effective team member roles as well as leadership responsibilities.

With this beginning, courses on Indian Insight in Management were introduced at IIM, Calcutta, NITIE, Bombay, Bharatisan Institute of Management, Trichy, Kamraj University, Madurai, IIM Ahmedabad and Institute of Technology BHU. Since then more and more institutes of management are following this trend.

In the background of the above developments the author has been inspired to explore the possibility of an Indian Model of Management leadership through Bhagawad Gita.


Our age has been characterised as an age of holistic, synthetic, synoptic and multi-sided approach. Gone are the days when, in the early wake of scientific progress, men thought in terms of pragmatism, meliorism and utilitarianism. As means of transport and communication progressed, East met West and both did gain by this contact. Today, it has been realised by the Western as well as Eastern thinkers that tomorrow's leader will not be a technocrat, with vast knowledge of machines, but a wise man with the knowledge of inner and outer human motivation, not only rational but intuitive, a man of vast and subtle horizon, including everything human in his insight. As S.K. Chakraborty (1994) says, "We wish to point out here that the latest conclusion reached in the West by modern methods whether relating to matter or mind are confirming ractically all the major hypotheses and truths arrived at by the ancient seers."


Pointing out the importance of leader in a modern organisation, Viscount Haldane (1913) said, "The so called heaven born er has a genius so strong that he will come to the front by sheer e of that genius almost wherever his lot be cast, for he is heaven in the sense that he is not like other men."

The leadership manager manages performance. This performance is coaching and developing people in order to help maximise output. He increases the frequency and quality of interaction between management and employee. He helps to create motivated people, the key building block in the leadership organisation. By focussing on what is right, not who is right, he helps create meritocracy. He increases partnership between Manager and employee. In his analysis of the managerial roles Mintzberg sums up both the importance as well the role of the leader in an organization. Leader's importance and role is interpersonal, informational and decision. In his inter-personal role, he is the figure head, the leader and the liaison officer. In his informational role, as Mintzberg (1973) puts it, he is the monitor, the disseminator and the spokesperson. In his decisional role he is the enterepeneur, the disturbance handler, resource allocator and negotiator.'


Following problems of management leadership may be derived and selected, for our purpose, from Yuki's taxonomy.

1. Problems in Performance Emphasis: The leader has to deal with the problems arising out of his effort to encourage subordinates to make maximum effort.

2. Problems in Role Clarification: Problems arising out of manager leader's information to subordinates about their duties and responsibilities, rules and policies.

3. Problems in Goal Setting: Problems concerning setting specific, challenging but realistic performance goals for each important aspect of the subordinate's job.

4. Problems in Planning: These are concerned about efficiently organising, accomplishing task objectives and avoiding or coping with potential problems.

5. Problems of Innovation: These are problems concerning new opportunities for the work unit to exploit proposals about new activities and innovative ideas for strengthening it.

6. Work Related Problems: These include problems and disturbances concerning decisions about work.

7. Problems of Work Facilitation: These are concerned with supply of equipment, support services, etc., necessary to do work effectively.

8. Problems concerning monitoring: It is the area of the Manager keeping himself informed about the activities within unit as well as outside events.

9. Problems Concerning Information dissemination: This is the field of the leader's keeping himself informed about decisions, events and developments that effect his work.

10. Problems of Discipline: These are about keeping discipline and taking disciplinary action.

11. Problems Concerning Representation: The leader manager has to promote and defend interests of the work unit.

12. Interpersonal Problems: These include the following problems :

(i) Consideration: The leader has to be friendly, supportive and considerate in his behaviour towards subordinates.

(ii) Inspiration: The leader has to stimulate enthusiasm among subordinates for the work of the group and say thi.ngs to build their confidence in the group's ability to attam its objectives.

(iii) Praise Recognition: The leader provides appropriate praise and recognition to subordinates with effective performance.

(iv) Decision Participation: The leader consults his subordinates in making decisions.

(v) Autonomy Delegation: The leader delegates autonomy, responsibility and authority to subordinates and allows them discrimination in determining their work.

(vi) Interaction Facilitation: The leader emphasises team work and tries to promote cooperation, cohesiveness and identification with the group.

(vii) Conflict Management: The leader discourages unnecessary fighting and bickering among subordinates and helps them settle conflicts and disagreements in constructive manner.


The above review of the problems of management leader shows that his success depends on his character, cool of mind, conduct and interpersonal relationships. It depends on those qualities which make for a successful. leader-manager. Thus there is an imperative need of improvement in the consciousness, character, conduct and behaviour of the leader. This has been the subject of prolonged and serious research concerning leadership traits, behaviour and influence processes.

1. Leadership Traits : Bass (1981), Stogdill (1974) and Yukl (1981) have made detailed review of trait literature made by a number of writers. Narrowly focussed programme of research by Minor (1965, 1978) McClelland (1975), McClelland and Burnham (1976), McClelland and Winter (1969) have made significant contribution to our understanding of how managerial motivation is related to leadership's effectiveness.

There is immense need of improvement in managerial skills. Katz (1955) and Mann (1965) found the following three general categories of skill relevant for managers and administrators : Technical skill, Interpersonal skills and Conceptual skills. Of these, while technical skills are concerned with things and conceptual skills are concerned with planning, the interpersonal skills are the most important being concerned with human resources. These include ability to understand the feelings, attitudes and motives of others, ability to communicate and most important ability to establish cooperative relationships. This requires tact, diplomacy, charm, empathy, social senstivity, persuasiveness, speech fluency, etc.

Effective leadership depends on leader's power. Most research on leader power has examined aspects of power similar to those in French's and Raven's (1959) power typology. Jacobs (1970) and Hollander (1979) maintained that power is gained and lost through the reciprocal influence procedures between leaders and followers. Through affection and consideration towards followers, the leader receives greater loyalty and commitment to work objectives (Dansereau, Graen and Haga (1975), Graen and Cashman (1975). Effective leaders rely more on referent power to influence subordinates (Sayles 1979, Bass 1981, Yukl 1981)

2. Leadership Behaviour: In this field Mintzberg (1973) did the most important work. It was reviewed by McCall, Morrison and Hannan (1978). The validity of Mitnzberg's 10 leadership roles, is yet to be established. A recent study by McCall and Segrist (1980) found evidence for only 6 out of the 10 roles. The famous Chio State Leadership studies found consideration and initiating structure as two major categories of successful leadership behaviour (Fleishman 1953, Halpin and Winer 1957). A programme of leadership research carried out at the University of Michigan in the 1950s (Likert 1961, 1967) revealed that task oriented aspects of leaderships were carried out without neglecting interpersonal relationship.' These results have been supported by various behavior taxonomies including those of Stogdill (1974), Bowers and Seashore (1966) and Bass and Valenzi (1974) though all these very much differed in their other conclusions. The behavioural research found that effective leaders are able to recognise what type of leadership behavior is appropriate at a given time and are flexible enough to adopt their behaviour to changing conditions.

3. Situational Theories of Leadership: While Fiedler (1967,78) presented contingency model of leadership, Evans (1970) and House (1971) formuated pathgoal theory of leadership which was extended and refined by House Dessler (1974), House and Mitchel (1974) and Simson and Johnson (1975). YukI (1980) prepared multiple Linkage Model after discussing dominant trend of leadership theories over the past two decades. Kerr and Jermier (1978) developed a model to identify aspects of the situations that reduce the importance of management leadership. On the basis of the studies by Tannenbaum and Schmid (1958) and Maier (1963), Vroom and Yetton (1973) developed normative model of decision participation. Robert Tannenbaum and Rensis Likert (1961) presented authority based models of leadership. Hersey and Blanchard presented Tridimension leader effectiveness model.

The above mentioned situational leadership theories present the Western model of Leadership from different aspects. The Pathgoal theory of Robert J. House is concerned only with subordinate expectencies and valances. Vroom Yetton model is concerned only with decision quality and acceptance. Theories of Fiedler and Kerr-Jerrnier (1967) do not explain how is a leader able to influence the subordinates. The range of leader behaviour is the greatest in the multiple linkage model of Yukl though, like other Western theories, it also needs further conceptual developments.


1Introductory :1-11
2Leadership and Team Building :12-25
3Philosophy of Life :26-37
4Work Ethics :38-52
5Decision Making :53-68
6Motivation :36-85
7Communication :85-98
8Business Policy :99-118
9Human Relationships :119-136
10Opinion Poll Questionnaire :137-172
11Concluding Remarks :173-190
The Questionnaire203-220

Sample Pages

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