Ancient wisdom in the new workplace

Bijoy Bharathan Chennai | Updated on November 25, 2017 Published on August 25, 2014

Devdutt Pattanaik, mythologist and leadership guru at the event   -  Bijoy Ghosh

The Second edition of Breakfast with BL crackles as Devdutt Pattanaik gets us to put on our thinking caps

Do you need to be a billionaire like Bill Gates, in order to be charitable? Or does philanthropy begin after achieving self-actualisation, as Maslow would have it? Giving these western schools of thought a well-aimed kick in the shins seemed to be a running theme at the second edition of Breakfast with Business Line. The monthly initiative, aimed at bringing together the cream of Chennai’s business circuit, arts and cultural ambassadors for an exchange of ideas saw an enthusiastic debate on a Sunday morning.

And with good reason, for the man in the hot seat at Sheraton Park Hotel and Towers was Dr Devdutt Pattanaik, one of India’s most popular mythologists. The physician turned leadership guru had the audience riveted as he stripped down management to its bare essentials, with help from our scriptures, no less. The discussion was moderated by renowned pianist Anil Srinivasan, who reprised his role with relish. Krishnan. N, the GM of the hotel joined them on the panel.

Devdutt set the ball rolling by bringing up the case of Shravan Kumar, the devoted son in the Ramayana, who carried his blind parents from place to place, in two baskets balanced on his shoulders. Devdutt likened this story to the burden of the older generation carried by children, saying, “It’s the expectation of the elders weighing on the youth of today. It’s as absurd as wanting Abhishek Bachchan to equal or surpass the legacy of his father Amitabh Bachchan. It’s an unrealistic expectation to have of any child.”

Elaborating on this chain of thought, Devdutt spoke about one of the biggest problems ailing the world of business today – of talent management, or the Bheeshma syndrome as he calls it. Using a real-world analogy, he said, “Just take a look at our Parliament today. The number of 90-year-olds clinging to their seats for an extended tenure is plain bizarre. This rings true even in the corporate world, or any other sphere for that matter. The best and most talented of the existing generation whether IPS or IAS officers, or professors and educators are seldom employed in training the next generation of employees or officers. There seems to be much more joy in making money than investing in the next generation of leaders.”

Responding to a question from a member of the audience, on the role of a creator and that of his creation in business, he articulated, “I try not to be too possessive of my works. In fact, I do not even consider them ‘my’ works in that sense of the word. For every 30 workshops that I do a year, I do 10 workshops for students, which are free.”

Published on August 25, 2014
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