Management – The Chanakya way!

Chanakya was an ancient Indian teacher, philosopher and economist. He is credited with having written the ancient Indian political treatise called Arthasastra . His management theories are timeless and are still very relevant today. Below are some of his sutras and how they apply to different facets of management in the modern day.

–    “Do not put your trust in a bad companion nor even trust an ordinary friend, for if he should get angry with you, he may bring all your secrets to light” – Reliable stakeholders and employees are the pillars of any successful business. 

–    “Learn from the mistakes of others… you can’t live long enough to make them all yourselves!!”Corporates must take vital cues from the bad decisions of competitors to ensure they do not make the same mistakes in the same circumstances.

–    “Do not reveal what you have thought upon doing, but by wise council keep it secret being determined to carry it into execution.” –  Manager or No-Manager – this is one vital mantra for everyone. The question worth the asking here is – ‘If you yourself cannot keep your secrets, how can you trust others to keep them secret?’ Learn to digest. Why give someone the slightest chance to ruin your task? 

–    “A brahmana’s strength is in his learning, a king’s strength is in his army, a vaishya’s strength is in his wealth and a shudra’s strength is in his attitude of service.”Core competency. It is not uncommon to see employees being given roles which otherwise seem very mundane and uninteresting to them. To utilise the capabilities of individuals to the fullest, they must be given roles which interest them as that is precisely, where their strength lies – True strength comes from one’s passions and interests rather than strategic manpower allocations.

–    “Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions – Why am I doing it, What the results might be and Will I be successful. Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions, go ahead.”For those looking to start their own venture, sooner or later, first ask yourself – What is my motive and motivation behind the venture? What are the expected returns – both tangible & intangible? What is the probability of the venture being successful? The essence of all Entrepreneurship, beautifully summed up in three simple questions!

–    “O wise man! Give your wealth only to the worthy and never to others. The water of the sea received by the clouds is always sweet. The rain water enlivens all living beings of the earth both movable (insects, animals, humans, etc.) And immovable (plants, trees, etc.), and then returns to the ocean it value multiplied a million fold.”Investments ahaan! One should only invest in stocks and ventures that are worthy of investments. We know that. What is worth noting here though, is – However arduous it may be to determine the worthiness of a stock or a proposed venture from an investor’s perspective, the effort is always worth it.

–    “He who is prepared for the future and he who deals cleverly with any situation that may arise are both happy; but the fantastic man who wholly depends on luck is ruined.”For all the speculators there – here’s a vital sutra. 100% speculation is always bad, says Chanakya. One must be prepared to deal with losses that could be incurred in the future as also manage all categories of risk, as and when the need be.

–    “If the king is virtuous, then the subjects are also virtuous. If the king is sinful, then the subjects are also sinful. If he is mediocre, then the subjects are mediocre. The subjects follow the example of the king. In short, as is the king so are the subjects.”Yes. It all boils down to great leadership in the end!

–    “Save your wealth against future calamity. Do not say, “What what fear has a rich man of calamity?” When riches begin to forsake one even the accumulated stock dwindles away.”The last and the most important sutra. Every business needs to save for the future. Even the mightiest of trees fall and the strongest of men, are vanquished.

Govind Agarwal
Alumnus of Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad

Govind Agarwal

Final year management student at IMT Ghaziabad.