So, we are again in the festive month in the Indian subcontinent with Diwali been celebrated in grandiose style across the length and breadth of India.
This is a festival of triumph of good over evil and of Rama the great king conquering the forces of Ravana the demon king. The name ‘Diwali’ literally means an ‘array of lights’; the festival marks the triumph of good over evil.
It is all about overcoming the darkness of ignorance and propagating the light of knowledge.
When the diyas (mud lamps) are alighted, their glow illuminates even the darkest of nights which signifies the enlightenment of soul and the triumph of good over evil.
The story of the Ramayana is again and again been retold and imbibed into countless generations and generations from time immemorial.
So can we learn any leadership lessons from the key events in Diwali?
Let us see.
Lord Rama breaking the Sacrificial bow to win Sita’s Hand
Differentiation of products, services and talent capabilities is very important to rise above the competitors. Lord Rama used his unique talents and skills effectively to win over Sita.
Dasaratha’s queen Kaikeyi asks for two promises from Dasaratha
A business and leader’s reputation is built on the commitments honored or reneged by them. So any leader should only commit to employees and customers based on the impact of the same in the long term and not short term gains. In this case Dasratha gave two promises to Kaikeyi which was used against him later.
Dasratha recalls his killing of young Shraavana kumara due to ignorance
Issues can only be solved. They can never be swept under the carpet or postponed. They are bound to return back with a vengeance. Pragmatic leaders never postpone critical issues.
They confront and solve it there and then. In this case Dasratha committed a crime of killing Sharavana kumar long time back and had to pay back later with the exiling of his own son Rama.
Lord Rama, Lakshmana and Sita leave for fourteen years in exile
Leaders thrive in challenges. They are willing to take risks and help organizations venture in the unknown where they can create new blue oceans.
In this case Rama could have stayed back and fought for his right. But he chose to go away and forge a new path in the unknown. His stellar reputation preceding him helped to make things easier.
Bharatha pleads to Rama to return, He refuses. Bharath asks for Rama’s sandals. He rules over Ayodhya in Rama’s absence as a caretaker of the throne using the sandals of Rama
Brand building takes years to establish and nurture and leaders understand that products and services are driven by brand consciousness. Therefore, they always take care never to destroy the reputation of existing brands in acquisitions and takeovers.
They keep key people to continue as usual while they work on integration strategies. In this case Bharatha knew that People of Ayodhya would never accept him as a leader. So he went ahead and ruled under Rama’s name.
Lakshmana cuts Ravana’s sister Surpanaka’s nose
Crisis handling is a very important hallmark of a leader which can make or break a leader’s reputation. Visionary leaders resolve a crisis keeping in view the long term impact and the challenges that the proposed solution might have on the organization.
Temporary resolutions should never be encouraged. In this case, Surpanaka could have been handled in a much better way as this single incident led subsequently to disastrous consequences.
Ravana is informed. He gets very angry. He approaches Marici, a demon who takes the form of a golden deer to lure away Rama and Lakshana from the hut while Ravana plans to kidnap Sita.
Ravana was supposed to be a great leader who had transformed his kingdom into a city of gold. The people loved and respected him. Yet his only weakness was his narcissistic ego and not listening to other’s opinion.
This led to his downfall. Visionary leaders are always humble and recognize the need to consult others. They never allow their judgment to be clouded by ego and anger.
Hanuman enters Lanka in search of Sita. He sets Lanka ablaze and warns Ravana to release Sita.Lanka is burnt to ashes.
Great Leaders have the ability to understand and interpret the small clues that mark the arrival of a big disruption. They accordingly steer their organizations to brace up for the change and prepare it for the next wave.
Here Ravana had the opportunity to negotiate and compromise which could have prevented the war. He saw Hanuman’s impact and could have easily imagined the consequences. But he chose to ignore the signals and brazen it out which led to a disastrous war.
Vibhushan Ravana’s brother surrenders to Lord Rama. War begins with Rama and Ravana
Leaders should always ensure that their key team members are taken care of and are valued in the organization. High profile exits not only weaken the organization but also result in loss of strategic advantage to the organization.
In this case Vibhisana’s exit resulted in Ravan’s demise as he knew some critical secrets about Ravana which was used later against him.
Rama wins the war, rescues Sita and returns to Ayodhya. He is coronated as the king again.
Organizational fortunes always follow a sinusoidal curve with good and bad times complementing each other. A leader never rests on his laurels and always makes sure that the organization is ready and prepared for the next onslaught.
He always creates succession plans who can take the organization to the next level. A great leader inculcates resilience within his organization for the worst while creating stepping stones to make it the best in business.
May the festival of lights be the harbinger of joy and prosperity.
As the holy occasion of Diwali is here and the atmosphere is filled with the spirit of mirth and love, here’s hoping this festival of beauty brings your way, bright sparkles of contentment, that stay with you through the days ahead.
Best wishes for a happy and prosperous.