Leadership & Krishna
Someone asked me, “Yogesh, what is leadership? What makes a great leader?”
Leadership means different things to different people. To some leadership means being a dictator, ordering people – “Do this!” and “Do that!” without really understanding the mindset, psychology and inner calling of the person.
Such a dictatorship might work for some time, but eventually, people get frustrated of dictators and overthrow them. Since the beginning of time, no dictator has survived. Even if they aren’t overthrown, they die filled with frustrations and anger. Dictators are not happy or blissful people.
The best person in to learn leadership from is Krishna. If you want to learn about leadership, there is nobody better.
Krishna’s life has been a celebration, filled with joy and playfulness. Everything is a game and nothing is serious. And when everything is a game, you will enjoy it and play it.
When you look at life as a game, you will not be bogged down by stress and challenges. You will play it with sheer joy.
The world’s greatest war, the Mahabharata, is about to start, and Krishna is Arjuna’s charioteer. Arjuna enters a state of fear and confusions. He wants to run away from the battlefield because he doesn’t want to fight the war.
He gives various reasons and asks Krishna several questions.
Krishna first identifies the true nature of Arjuna. He has been trained as a warrior, his inner desire is to be a warrior. He is a Kshatriya and those it is his dharma to fight. He can’t give up everything and become a hermit.
Every leader must identify what the true strengths of his people. If someone is great at sales and loves to meet people, don’t let them work in accounts where they are locked away in a room away from people – they will be miserable and won’t perform fully. If someone’s inner desire is to dance, don’t make them a teacher.
Only if people are true to their inner calling, to their inner self, will they do what they do in the best possible way.
A leader needs to have the powers of intuition, psychology, empathy and ability to connect with people on a deeper level. Only if you can become someone else, can you understand what their desires are.
Once Krishna knows, Arjuna’s inner desire is that of a warrior, he simply becomes a mirror showing Arjuna what reality is. Krishna remove all the fear that is there in Arjuna’s mind and once the fear is removed - Arjuna becomes strong and performs to his best ability.
Krishna removes the fear, by stating facts. Krishna encourages Arjuna to ask questions. He isn’t a dictator telling Arjuna, “Do this because I tell you to!” – a great leader never does that.
A great leader, instills courage and boldness and lets people act on their own. Arjuna acts out of his own inner self. A great leader inspires his people to achieve greatness.
Krishna doesn’t fight the war. Arjuna fights the war, Krishna simply steers the chariot, shows the way.
A great leader doesn’t need to fight the war by shooting arrows, but by showing his people the way. By steering the chariot.
At the same time, a great leader is humble and a friend to his people. Krishna drives Arjuna’s chariot and is looked upon as a friend. People should freely be able to share what is in their heart with their leader.
Only if the leader is a friend will people connect and share whatever they want to.
Krishna also pushes Arjuna when needed. When people become complacent, they need to be pushed out of their comfort zones. Arjuna’s mind had entered a state where he needed to be pushed out of it.
A great leader pushes people so they can discover their own greatness. So if someone wants to sing, and they are hesitant to go on stage – a great leader will announce their name to come on stage. Putting people in that situation which is uncomfortable brings out their greatness.
A great leader will push someone who is afraid to swim in the swimming pool so that they learn to swim. Someone who is hesitant to make a presentation or go for a business meeting, will be pushed to go.
He also knows how to use tact and shrewdness when needed. Krishna is a master of this. So for instance to defeat Bhishma, Krishna brought in Shikhandi on the battlefield. Who was a man, in a woman’s body.
Bhishma would not fire arrows at a woman, it was against his principles, and lowered his bow, that’s when Arjuna fired arrows from behind Shikhandi at Bhishma. This lead to the fall of Bhishma.
Tact, shrewdness and strategy are skills Krishna had in abundance and every leader needs. Every leader needs to have a strategy in place.
Krishna also tells Arjuna, not to worry about victory or failure, but simply do what you have been assigned to do in the best possible way.
A great leader knows this, victory and failure are secondary. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, what matters is you give whatever you are doing you best.
If I am sharing this, I should share it in the best possible way. I should share it without thinking, a billion people will love me for it and benefit or nobody will read it, and if they do they will hate me for it.
That doesn’t matter, what matters is giving it my best and enjoying myself. And best is not something to be compared or competed, it is simply my best.
Enjoy this moment. This is what you have.