Bhagavad Gita and Modern Management

Modern management techniques are heavily borrowed from Western practices. Despite the exhaustive training managers get in business schools and in their own organizations, there have been many instances of greed and fraud even in famous companies. Let’s take a u-turn and check what the ancient tome, the Bhagavad Gita, has to offer for modern managers.

Lessons in Work Commitment

In the Gita, verse 2.47 advises non-attachment to the results after performing one’s duty diligently, and with care. This means doing dedicated work in the spirit of “work for work’s sake”. We should not think of promotion or incentives, while giving our best at the workplace. When performance is tilted in anticipation of benefits, its quality suffers due to mental agitation created by anxiety for the future.

Thus, verse 2.47 brilliantly guides a manager on psychological energy conservation and can prevent burn-outs and work-related stress. Thus, the Gita can save the cost of sending managers to expensive stress-prevention workshops.

The Law of Karma

Another advantage of not being attached to results is that whatever fruits we expect may not always result, despite our best efforts. Therefore, the Gita advises us to abstain from mortgaging present dedication in favor of an uncertain future. Some people may argue that non-attachment to results would lead to decreased accountability. But, the Gita clarifies that according to the law of cause and effect, the doer is responsible for the results of his actions.

The Gita advises the manager to become the work, he/she is doing at the moment. This is the right attitude, as it prevents the mind and ego from speculating on future losses or gains, enabling full focus on the current work.

Theory of Self-realization

Modern management techniques say that workers are motivated by lower needs such as food, clothing, shelter, appreciation, recognition, status etc. However the Gita’s theory of self-realization states that one should sacrifice these lower needs and be inspired by an non-egoistic outlook, team work, sharing, harmony and trust. Thus, self-transcenders are innovators and visionaries. They do not let the ego spoil their work.

Two Types of Work Culture

In chapter 16, Krishna enunciates two types of work culture. These are:

Divine Work Culture:

This means calmness, self-denial, modesty, absence of pride, envy or greed, sacrifice, purity and fearlessness.

Demonic Work Culture:

This means delusion, egoism, desire-centric performance and non-observance of work ethics.

The Gita’s Ultimate Message for Managers

Krishna clearly says that a doer of good deeds will not face misery, as according to the law of karma, good deeds beget good results, while evil action begets misery. Therefore, a manager who acts well will be rewarded. Finally, the ideal manager should keep in mind the holistic attitude of work for the welfare and good of many.

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