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Leadership on Rugged Roads

In the world of management, the true test of leadership often comes not just from steering a team through calm waters, but also from navigating the stormy seas of adversity. Effective leaders are distinguished not only by their strategic acumen and decision-making prowess but also by their emotional intelligence, resilience, and their ability to maintain team cohesion under pressure.


In the Shanti Parva of Mahabharata, Krishna asks "“ What is that weapon, O sage, which is not made of steel,which is mild, which still pierces all hearts, and which I must use forcorrecting the tongues of my kinsmen?”.

Narada responds “The giving of food to the best of thy power, forgiveness,sincerity, mildness, and honour to whom honour is due, these constitute aweapon that is not made of steel. With soft words alone turn away theanger of kinsmen about the utter cruel speeches, and mollify their heartsand minds and slanderous tongues. None who is not a great man withcleansed soul and possessed of accomplishments and friends can bear aheavy burthen. Take up this great weight (of governing the Vrishnis) andbear it on thy shoulders. *All oxen can bear heavy burthens on a levelroad. The stronger ones only among them can bear such burthens on adifficult road. From disunion destruction will spring and overtake allthe Bhojas and the Vrishnis. Thou, O Kesava, art the foremost one amongthem. Do thou act in such a manner that the Bhojas and the Vrishnis maynot meet with destruction. Nothing but intelligence and forgiveness,restraint of the senses, and liberality are present in a person of wisdom…."


Emotional intelligence is the cornerstone of effective leadership. It involves understanding one’s own emotions and the emotions of others, and using this awareness to manage relationships judiciously and empathetically. Leaders who possess high emotional intelligence can identify the underlying issues in conflicts, address them constructively, and communicate in a way that deescalates tensions. They foster an environment where sincerity and mildness are not just appreciated but are expected norms.

Forgiveness is a powerful tool in the leader’s toolkit. It allows teams to move beyond past grievances and focus on collective goals. A leader who demonstrates forgiveness sets a precedent that mistakes are not only acknowledged but are also learning opportunities. Coupled with sincerity, forgiveness helps in building trust within the team. Trust, once established, becomes the foundation upon which strong, resilient teams are built.

Effective leaders recognize that appreciating and crediting team members for their work not only boosts morale but also promotes a culture of fairness and respect. This approach encourages a merit-based environment where achievements are celebrated, motivating others to strive for excellence. It also establishes trust and loyalty, as team members feel their efforts are seen and valued, leading to increased engagement and productivity. In essence, leaders who practice this principle are adept at fostering a positive organizational climate, enhancing both individual and collective performance.

Resilience in leadership is about more than endurance; it's about adaptability. It involves recognizing when to push forward and when to pivot strategy. Resilient leaders are like skilled navigators, capable of adjusting their course when unexpected challenges arise. They understand that the path to success is rarely straight and often requires navigating through difficult terrain. These leaders are adept at carrying the weight of responsibility, not just when conditions are favorable, but especially when the road becomes steep and the burdens heavy.

A key trait of resilient leaders is their commitment to continuous improvement and adaptability. They view every challenge as a chance to learn and every setback as an opportunity for growth. This mindset not only motivates them but also inspires their teams to strive for excellence, no matter the circumstances.

Perhaps one of the most critical roles of a leader is to keep the team united, especially when facing potential disruptions. By articulating a clear vision and demonstrating unwavering commitment to that vision, leaders can ensure that all team members are aligned and motivated towards common objectives. The strength of a team is tested in times of crisis, and it is during these times that the true power of a unified team becomes evident.


अनायसेन शस्त्रेण मृदुना हृदयछिदा

जिह्वाम उद्धर सर्वेषां परिमृज्यानुमृज्य च

अनायसं मुने शस्त्रं मृदु विद्याम अहं कथम

येनैषाम उद्धरे जिह्वां परिमृज्यानुमृज्य च

शक्त्यान्न दानं सततं तितिक्षा दम आर्जवम

यथार्ह परतिपूजा च शस्त्रम एतद अनायसम



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