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7 Leadership-HR Lessons from Mahabharata

Mahabharata is the longest epic in the world. It is believed that the epic holds
answers to each and every quest an individual faces at any stage in life. The
scriptures have insights about management of businesses, people,
resources and finances. The intricate management messages are relevant
even today. Here are seven HR and Leadership lessons from Mahabharata.
Hire the right person in the right place at the right time
One should never hire people to fill the team and have more hands at work
but identify key areas and talents required to achieve the goal. The choice of
the resource makes a difference between business success and failure. The
effectiveness of the business largely depends on the leader’s ability to put
the right person at the right place at the right time.
In Mahabharata, even when Kaurava had 11 armies they could not
outperform the Pandavas. Pandavas with the help of Krishna understood the
importance of having right person in the right place to win the war.
Shikhandi: To put Bhishma to rest and out of the battlefield,
Dhrishtadyumna : To kill Drona in the battlefield , Abhimanyu : To break the
Chakravyu and save Yudhishthira in the battlefield , Iravan(Son of Arjuna
and Ulupi, A Naga Princess) : To sacrifice for Goddess Kali and reveal how
the war may be won.
Develop a diverse team and share responsibility
Diversity in a team is very important as it provides the leader with different
perspectives to take better decisions. Having a right set of resources in the
corporate world is the key to win the marketplace.
In Mahabharata, Kauravas had 11 armies fighting which were led by
Bhishma, Drona, Karna, and Shalya. They had a centralized leadership with
11 commanders, and the command was passed on to others as and when
these commanders fell in the battleground. On the other side Pandavas had
7 armies with Arjuna as Chief Commander of the army, Lord Krishna was the
counsellor and Dhrishtadyumna was the Commander-in-chief of the seven
armies. Thus, pandavas had diverse people in the team and everyone was
a part of the decision making process and fought as one single team
Know the potential of every team member
For managing a team one should know what kinds of roles are suitable for
each and every member of the team. The leader should possess the ability
to utilize each members potential to the maximum.
In Mahabharata, when Arjuna and Duryodhana went to Dwarka to ask on
whose side Krishna and his battalion would be in the war, Arjuna asked for
Krishna unarmed than his army because he knew Krishna had the power of
In another instance Pandavas utilized the potential of Shikhandi (elder
brother of Draupadi) to overpower Bhishma in the battlefield as Bhishma
refused to fight woman on the battlefield.
Align individual Goals to company's Goals
Every team member should have individual goals cascaded down from a
single Goal and vision of the team. Team members thus feel that their
contributions are valuable in achieving the objective/Goal.
In Mahabharata, even when Pandavas and Kauravas had the same goal of
defeating each other. The Pandavas were better coordinated as everyone
had individual roles in the battle. However on the other side Kauravas had
individual motives to soothe their egos in the battle.
Improve skills and consistently learn
One should constantly focus on improving skills and constantly learn the new
tricks of the trade. It is very important to have right set of skills, attitude and
tools to win the battles of business.
In Mahabharata, the forest exile begins as a tragedy however turns out as
good learning experience for the Pandavas. Arjuna learning and refining the
skill of archery and humility from Shiva, Hanuman humbles Bhima, and they
spent the 12 years learning about various skills and humility helping them
becoming better human beings and thus better kings.
Take difficult decisions in the interest of Organization
Leader often has to take decisions in the organization which may or may not
be of their choice, the best way is to understand which alternative is better
for organization, its people and its position.
In Mahabharata, Bhishma (Devavrata) took a vow of celibacy, to never marry,
never be with a woman and never father children for the sake of his father
Shantanu to remarry Satyavati. His vow stunned everyone to the level where
Devas descended from skies to shower him with Flowers and gave him the
name, BHISHMA, the one who took terrible vows. This decision in turn led
his father to marry Satyavati and have 2 sons, Chitrangada and Vichitravirya.
Seize every single opportunity
One should always look out for opportunities even outside their scope of
work. One should tap opportunities rather than focusing on killing the
competition. However, in the process if the competition dies it’s an added
advantage but if newer opportunities are explored then there is another
strength which gets added to the business.
In Mahabharata, there are 2 opportunists, Krishna and Shakuni (Maternal
Uncle of Kaurava).
Shakuni is self-motivated character who decides to play mind games over
warfare as that is his strength. He sees an opportunity at every instance.
Krishna is a strategist and analyses the scenario very carefully before acting
when opportunity knocks the door. He believed in well thought plans, keeping
secret weapons and using it at the right time and wins the competition.