– Cross cultural and transcending management/leadership paradigms) v/s western (american) based models/paradigms
Indian mythology is an ocean of religio-spiritual knowledge, philosophy and wisdom, written since time immemorial, which amongst others encapsulates the sacred Bhagvad Gita and the Ramayana. These two scriptures underpin core perspectives and paradigms of leadership and management in spirit (soft) and substance (hard).
The religio-spiritual bounty of these scriptures in the realm of leadership and management has been unsung and hardly been given adequate exposure by our leadership and management gurus and pundits, though they prescribe a plethora of excellent frameworks, models and precepts of leadership and management. Leaders and managers can churn and tap on this spiritual richness, soft mystics and wisdom as benchmarks to boost their personal and organizational efficiency and effectiveness. The objective of this paper is to bring this oblivion to the obvious, to advocate and attempt to apply this soft knowledge (learning of yoga), as a soft instrument for performing actions. The Gita and the Ramayana are not only a treasure of metaphysics (bramhavidya), but are an encompassing art and science to develop, lead and manage the self and the people. They present the leadership eco-system in hard and soft.
American/western based models are world accepted precepts embedded with western value systems and imprints of neo-capitalistic imperialism. These models focus largely on the Hard, Gross and Physical (economic value) of the human resource. Their schools of thoughts – pre-classical, classical (Taylorism etc.), behavioural/neo-human relations, contingencies/contemporary theorists – have researched a lot since a century to understand deeply on human psyche and spiritual dynamics in the organizational ethos. Only the behavioural and human relations schools have gained some momentum.
Since the 80s (neo-liberalism era), there is a multiplication of management paradigms – New Public Management (NPM), New Public Service (NPS), Neo-Weberian State (NWS) etc., but organizational outcomes, performance, results and governance on the application and implementation of these models have been and are still inadequate. Are these western paradigms and models really universal across different cultures and societies?
What’s about their cultural compatibility and chemistry in other organizational cultures? The problematic is the human factor. Western models have succeeded to understand as stated above, the ‘FORM’ and the ‘HARD’ but not the SOFT and the SUBTLE. It is obvious that the implementation of a model or paradigm warrants first and foremost behavioural and cultural change of the people, but western models do not fully understand that point – one should grow and become the change (inner change and development) to usher change e.g. organizational, social. That is the gap and missing link which need to be addressed urgently.
Western models of management and leadership have not up till now neither specified nor researched on self-knowledge, self-transcendence as attributes and qualities for leadership. They have expounded a lot on humanization of organizations, but not on its ‘inner-consciousnessisation’.
Works on ‘karma capitalism’ (Engardio and McGregor, 2006), ‘conscious organizations’ (Heator and Hartang, 1999), ‘enlightened organizations.’ (Neal, 2013) encourage organizations to embrace a more holistic approach by considering employees’ intangible inner needs. Research supports a favourable effect of work place spirituality (WPS) on employees’ commitment, citizenship behaviour, job satisfaction, wellbeing, retention and decision making (Young, 2002, Milliman, Czaplewski, and Ferguson, 2003, Petchsawang and Duchon, 2012). Implementing spirituality at workplace is a win-win take away for both, the organizations and the employees.
In that context, the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana provide the solution to bridge the gap which western theorists are still finding difficulties to research – the development of inner consciousness (self knowledge).
These sacred scriptures are unparalleled benchmarks and posit as cross cultural transcending paradigms of leadership and management in time and space, especially in times of uncertainty, conflict and confusion.
The religio-spiritual bounty of these scriptures prescribes management of your self rather than yourself as a fundamental leadership mantra, which is ultimately transcendental leadership. It ascribes to self-awareness, self-consciousness and sense detachment. The focus is development and management of the soft, subtle and sublime to manage and lead the gross, hard and the outer.
The beneficial outcomes for the physical and mental health of people have made spirituality psychology a favourite subject of investigation (Piedmont, 1999). In the management literature, however, its impact on workplaces remains under-researched. Organisations want employees who are both physically and mentally fit as it associates directly with positive emotions and energy (Long and Driscoll, 2015).
Contemporary management and leadership therefore need to be re-invented from the inner and both scriptures are unparalleled benchmarks and transcendental paradigms to trigger and usher this change. It’s merely leadership from within. It is noted that there is a burgeoning interest in work place spirituality (WPS) as organizations acknowledge employees’ higher order spiritual needs, together with their mental, emotional and physical needs, which must be gratified to engage the employees fully at the workplace (Srinivasan, 2013).
The Gita and Ramayana provide comprehensive lessons on how to boost management and leadership effectiveness to foster organizational performance from the transcendental leadership perspective. Obviously, they remain a soft and spiritual source to resource the human resource.
The sacred writings are not on the wall. The writings are on the laps (Himalaya ki godh mein) and on the heights of the Himalayas since time immemorial. Himalaya is the abode and realm of the origins of Indian religio-spiritual mystics. The pioneers, thinkers and the writers are the sages (rishis-munis) of this Holy Land, Bharat (India).
The writings originate from the microcosm. These are ultimately the divine echo and sublime sound of the infinite knowledge and wisdom, captured and tapped by the sages (rishis) at source, through meditation, yoga and contemplative rigour (chintan shakti) in the course of their complete spiritual retreat, in search for the truth and the self. The intrinsic sublime knowledge (soft), was thereafter translated and transformed into ‘hard’ (sacred scriptures), which is the bedrock of Indian mythology – a deep ocean and treasure of infinite knowledge (apar sagar) and a soft spiritual source to resource. These scriptures are the fundamental essence to the essential and transcend time and space, as spelt below:
“The Bhagavad-Gita is a true scripture of the human race, a living creation rather than a book, with a new message for every age and a new meaning for every civilization.” – Sri Aurobindo.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Indian mythology comprises of multiple sacred texts (shastras) which inter-alia include the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayan.
These scriptures are as ancient as civilization, written since time immemorial. They are imbued with infinite universal knowledge, philosophy and wisdom. They tap mostly on the soft and subtle i.e. human dynamics and behaviours. The knowledge resource and spiritual richness contained therein are unfathomed and have no bounds. The sublime teachings of these two scriptures in the realm of management and leadership have been dormant, latent and unsung though they prescribe amongst others effective and excellent models and paradigms of management and leadership in soft and substance, to empower managers to foster sound management and strong leadership.
Their applications have been piece meal and limited rather those holistic, compared to Western/American based models which are worldly accepted precepts, embedded mostly with western cultural value systems and capitalism.
Western based management/leadership paradigms focus mainly on the gross, hard and physical of the ‘HUMAN’. They add economic value to the human resource e.g. human/intellectual capital. Going down the memory lane on the core evolution of western management theories and their schools of thoughts – from pre-classical, late 1800 to classical 1900-1930s (Taylorism, Weberism, Fayolism, Fordism). Later came the behavioural/human relations schools, contingencies/neo-contemporary theorists (Fiedler, Blake and Mouton, John Adair..) who have strived a lot since more than a century to understand human dynamics and its psyche (soft) within the organisational ethos. Only the behavioural/human relations schools gained some momentum to that effect, in understanding the human psyche. To cite Mary Paker Follet, Hugo Munstersberg, Elton Mayo etc. It is noted that the classical traditional rule-based bureaucratic administrations predominated until 1980s, following which the neo-liberalist thinking’s and pro-market ideologies of Reaganism and Thatherism were applied with the prime rationale to re-invent and revamp public bureaucracies (re-inventing government) and which thrived till 1995. The neo-liberalist models were the New Public Management, new manageralism, entrepreneurial and market government etc. However, it is noted that new western management/leadership paradigms are in the making, nearly every 20 years… we have witnessed NPM, Post NPM, NPS (new public service), NWS (new weberian state) , NPG (new public governance) accordingly… Administrative reforms or rhetorics? The organisational outcomes, performance, results and good governance of the above models are still inadequate.. Why? These theories are assumed to bear imprints of exploitation produced during the first world war, great depression, the second world war and economic liberalism (WTO).
These organisational models also have ‘de-facto’ overflowing core of intelligence, but with an intellect (soft) at its ebb and a deficit of values. Some management gurus refer to fall of human intellect. The universality and validity of the models and paradigms and theories can also be questioned, as their value systems and ideologies differ across cultures and societies. How are they culturally fit, culturally compatible and what’s about their cultural chemistry for e.g. in the Mauritian culture and society? Their problematic therefore remains CULTURE and the HUMAN FACTOR i.e. the people. The western models barely understand that you must at first grow and become the change to usher the change, which obviously calls to tap on the inner i.e. (soft) human dynamics Cultural, moral and spiritual (transcendental) leadership are paramount.
NUT CRACKING – SOFT STRATEGY
To bring reforms and change and as stated above the Gita prescribes self-awareness, self-transcendence, self knowledge, self discipline and sense detachment from materialism as imperatives. This soft development triggers emotional intelligence and development of the intellect – soft imperatives to assess and boost, personal, inspirational, managerial and leadership effectiveness. Self-confident managers/leaders as per the Gita and the Ramayana go beyond ego-driven, interests, without expecting fruits/rewards of their duties responsibilities (Karma Yoga) and instill an organisational culture of caring, sharing and serving the people. The Bhagavad Gita thus provides the nut cracking strategy for leadership – break the hard, gross and the outer and tap on the inner soft and subtle. In a nutshell, Western models can be adduced to be more material ‘centric’ – putting people fast (Taylorism, Fordism, liberalism), while Gita and Ramayana models are ‘human centric’, putting people first as partly demonstrated by Theories Y and Z, Douglas, McGregor and Ouchi Japanese theorist. It’s management and development of the inner soft to develop and manage the outer, the hard, and the physical. Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Indian Nation, always drew inspirations from the sacred Gita and Ramayana. How the wisdom of these scriptures were catalytic and enabled him to bring fundamental and social charges, emancipation, transformation and political freedom – to ultimately Independent India, from the British. A testimony of transformational, servant visionary leadership which ‘de-facto’ metamorphosed from the infinite soft wisdom of Gita and Ramayana. His noble achievement and success are largely attributed to the religio-spiritual wisdom of the scriptures mainly the Bhagvad Gita, and are still enlightening, invaluable and noble for humanity.
The professional research undertaken by Western thinkers on human dynamics and psyche, however, cannot be denied, though they strived a lot, especially for the research undertaken by the behavioural/human relations theorists, to understand the human psycho spiritual dynamics in the organisational ethos. The secret is the self-transcendence and self-awareness which are still the missing link and the research gap which Western theorists have hardly understood or researched, since pre-classical era. They are still bogged down on this aspect of self-awareness. They have succeeded to understand the ‘FORM’ and the ‘HARD’ NOT THE SOFT AND THE FORMLESS. The religio-spiritual bounty of Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana since time immemorial are unparalleled transcendent and cross-cultural paradigms and benchmarks of leadership and management in time and space to that effect. They provide the fundamental solutions, to bridge and plug this gap on self-transcendence and awareness (soft) and sublime which western thinkers still ignore. Has somebody from the west researched on inner consciousness / self transcendence in the leadership/management domain? Why we do not find self transcendence, self awareness as leadership qualities in western (US) based theories? Mahatma Gandhi, displayed such soft qualities.
The Gita provides a concise understanding of self-development and psycho-spiritual improvement at the workplace. It articulates and permeates the ‘modes of thinking’ and the ‘modes of action’ in the value chain and focuses deeply on the mental state of the decision maker (leader/manager) rather than on decision making as found in conventional literatures.
An analysis of the Gita is a must to research and understand the profound mystics of self-transcendence from which blended models of leadership and management (Western-Indian) could be produced further as sound leadership/management are cross-fertilized ‘dharmic’ precepts and human centric arts/sciences.
WHAT WE OBSERVE TODAY?
Western based paradigms are now deeply centred on people, while the Gita and Ramayana expounded the ‘human centric’ element in the management/leadership paradigm since dawn of civilization. Neo and Western paradigms – NPS, NWS, conscious capitalism and marconomics models are now focusing and centered on human dynamics (soft), inter-relationships, coalition, participatory governance… offshoots of Indian mythology. How many managers and leaders (including Indians) are aware of these mythological precepts which touch the subtle and the soul – the soft? It’s high time to revive, value, diffuse and articulate this religio-spiritual wisdom for human development, progress, prosperity and welfare of the society. Organisations should also develop and become learning organisations for development and management of the inner soft of the human factor. i.e. to manage the inner soft in view to manage the gross, hard, physical and the outer…