What if management lessons are applied to the Characters of Pandavas and Sri Krishna in the Mahabharata –
as the CEO; Yudhishtir who binds together values; Bhima (outcomes); Arjun
(learning); Karna (legitimacy); Nakul (process) and Shadev (purpose).
The great Indian epic can be used to compare each of the Pandavas to managers of today with their roles, strengths, weaknesses and consequences.
The popular elective course — Spirituality for Global Managers — has management students looking at Krishna as the CEO; Yudhishtir who binds together values; Bhima (outcomes); Arjun (learning); Karna (legitimacy); Nakul (process) and Shadev (purpose).
Says Ramnath Narayanaswamy, professor at IIM-B: "The Ramayana and Mahabharata are outstanding texts for all times and can be contemporised to any age. The Pandavas, Karna included, are each a great hero with a fatal flaw."
What is interesting is the way in which each of the Pandavas has been made relevant in the management context. Explains Narayanaswamy: "Yudhishtir is the mentor whose strengths are his values and beliefs. He stands for propriety but he is blinded by his code of honour. Similarly, Bhima is an 'executor' manager. For him, the outcome is supremely important, the bottomline matters — his weakness is he can be blinded by rage."
Nakul, points out the IIM-B professor, is the enabler — the service hero of today.
"He's driven by process, but there's no active leadership. Sahadeva is the visionary, but he is like the manager who stands for thought and no action. Karna's strength is personal loyalty, it also brings about his doom. He's like the manager of today who'd buy vegetables for his bosses," says Narayanaswamy.
Arjun stands for flawless perfection. His strength is that he's assailed by doubt, but he's willing to learn.
"Today's young managers are Arjuns, in search of their own heroism — they want to discover their own meaning in life," says Narayanaswamy.