Management lessons from Ramayan

It is said that great knowledge and wisdom is passed on from one generation to another, that can be applied to your life no matter how much times change. Even today, the wisdom of Chanakya is indispensable in diplomatic planning. The life of Ashoka is a great lesson in the right way to run a company with a happy workforce. Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings are still iterated in ethical codes of conduct. 

Our epics and historical texts are rife with important lessons that can help us greatly in life. The Ramayana is a work of literature that is frequently cited when giving management lessons. Indeed, it cannot be denied that the outcome of Ramayana is what it is because of the management decisions taken by its characters. And there is no dearth of these. Here, we will look at 14 management lessons that we can derive from the Ramayana.

1. Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

One of the reasons behind Ram’s success was that he did not judge people by their appearance. He did not look at the apes and think, “They cannot fight a man’s battle.” Rather, he judged them by their abilities. That is how he gained through Sugriv’s managerial skills, Hanuman’s dogged determination and loyalty, Vibhishan’s planning abilities, Jambavana’s knowledge, and so on. Sometimes, it will surprise you how when given a chance, people you did not expect to, come through with flying colors.

2. Every Employee is Important

When you are undertaking a project, make sure you are involving every single employee from the top brass to the lowest clerk. Teamwork is extremely important for completing a task smoothly and easily. Ram involved even birds and squirrels in building the bridge to Lanka; that is how he was able to complete the task so fast. Similarly, the contributions and opinions of every worker count when doing any job.

3. Create a Vision

When you are working on a project, simply telling the people what they need to do will not produce quality work. You need to give them the vision to work towards. This will have two positive effects on your team. First, an exciting vision will give them a tangible aim to work towards. This leads to team members often taking productive decisions themselves and contributing more than they are asked to, thus producing even better results. Second, they have something to keep them motivated during the entire project duration.

4. Ethics

Ram’s ethics are perhaps the most defining part of his character. He is seen to maintain his moral code of conduct no matter how difficult times get. It resulted in his team and his subordinates being able to have full faith in him at all times. It even gained him the unlikely allegiance of Vibhishan. If you stay moral in conducting your business at all times, your employers would trust you and want to help you in your difficult times.

5. Have Faith in Your Team

Trust, of course, is a two-way road. That means you, as the manager or team leader, must also trust and respect your team, or you may lose important people. The burden of the mistake of not trusting Sita was faced by Rama when she left him and decided to return to the bosom of the Earth Goddess when Rama kept asking her to prove her fidelity.

6. Planning and Analysis

Hanuman’s clever planning and SWOT analysis in Lanka, from figuring out the best way to infiltrate, locating Sita, gaining her trust, to making his escape helped ensure that when Ram went to battle, he knew what he was walking into. Knowing the field like the back of your hand ensures that you will be prepared for everything.

7. Treat Your Rivals With Respect

This is extremely important in business. Reserve the competition strictly for the business. When it comes to general conduct and etiquette or when meeting your rival outside work, treat them with full respect. Often, it is these very people that will help you in a fix. The case of Vibhishan is a great example. Even Ravana gave Rama great administration advice before dying because Rama respected him. Ram doing the last rites of soldiers on both sides equally was a great example of this stance of Ram.

8. Do Not be Impulsive or Egotistic

Impulse, temptation, and ego are what brought about the downfall of Ravana. Impulse and temptation are what led to Sita’s troubles in the first place. It is important to always take decisions after much through and only after considering all sides. Do not be tempted by easy successes or try to cut corners, hoodwink customers, or exploit people for a bit of extra money. And definitely do not let ego rule your decisions. 

9. Do Not Make Blind Promises

The power of promises is reiterated multiple times throughout the epic. Dasharath’s two promises to Kaikeyi made without any consideration of consequence ultimately put his sons and daughter-in-law in jeopardy. At the same time, Ram’s promises to Sugriv and Vibhishan to make them kings of their respective kingdoms is what sealed their strong alliances and helped him win the war.

10. Manage Stakeholders

This is a tricky field. Knowing the balance in how much influence your stakeholders should have on your decisions can completely change the direction of your company. Kaikeyi’s stake in the throne led to the derailment of Dasharath’s ruling plan. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Ravana ignoring his wife Mandodari, his brother Vibhishan, and his grandfather Malyavaan to let his courtiers, who had a stake in his kingdom, rule his decisions caused his death in the end. Always keep your stakeholders happy but do not let them overpower you.

11. Creating the Right Alliances

It cannot be denied that much of the success that Ram achieved was due to the strong alliances he created. Sugriv, Hanuman, and Vibhishan were his key alliances that turned the tide in his favor, Jatayu’s help was a key turning point in his search while Hanuman’s assistance throughout his journey was essential in his winning the war and retrieving Sita. For a modern company too, the right mergers and alliances can help you reach greater success and not be affected too badly by difficult times.

12. Don’t be a Supremacist

Ramrajya is the epitome of the moderate path with a special focus on kindness, tolerance, and discipline. Ravana’s ruling principle was just the opposite. He believed in his ultimate power and did everything to implement his beliefs on others. His extremist approach to ruling often disgruntled his subjects, with the result that in the end, his supremacy was toppled. Keeping a tolerant, inclusive workplace that gives space for creativity to all is essential for growth and productivity.

13. Constant Communication

A lack of communication between Bali and Sugriv lead to Bali’s downfall. Miscommunication between Ram, Sita, and Laxman lead to the abduction of Sita. Needless to say, communication is the key to successful management. Always keep the door unlocked for open conversation and inter-communication among all members of the team. It will ensure smooth working, enhanced productivity, and a healthy work environment in the company.

14. Coolness In Adversity

Ram could easily have overreacted when he heard about his banishment. But it would have only lead people to believe he was hungry for power and thus, not a good king. He could have wasted his time grieving after Sita’s kidnapping; he would then have missed vital clues that led to him figuring out Sita’s location. Keeping your cool in adversity will help you pull the company out of the adversity and save all sides.

Last Words

Even at fourteen, these are only a few of the lessons in management you can gain from the Ramayana. If you read the entire work, every line will teach you something that you can apply when managing your company.