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Power Management through Alternative Strategies
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A scholar had once defined Artha as ‘power’ in the ancient Indian books. This gives us a different, yet an apt meaning of the word Arthashastra. Thus, Chanakya’s Arthashastra can be taken as a book on ‘power management’.

Such a book would be extremely useful for a person at a top leadership position and who should know which card to play at what time. Chanakya was a master in the field of power management and, throughout the Arthashastra, various options are given to the king.

In the seventh book of Kautilya’s Arthashastra, Chanakya defines six situations and six different measures to handle them.

He says:

“These are really six measures, because of differences in the situations.” (7.1.5)

Why does Chanakya promote alternative moves for different situations?

The reason is simple: No two situations are the same and a unique ‘strategy’ must be applied for every situation. If we understand just this, we will understand how to manage power.

Let us take up some of the most common situations a corporate leader can come across:

1. PEOPLE SITUATIONS

Once a person attains power, the first thing he has to handle is the people working under him. In fact, the success of his career depends on not only how he will handle his own people, but also those on the competitor’s side.

Every person is different, and it is important to understand how human beings act and react in different situations. There has to be alternative strategies for every person and group. A study of the human psychology will prove helpful in this very important task.

2. KNOWLEDGE SITUATIONS

As the world moves towards a ‘knowledge economy’, the competitive advantage will be with people who are ahead of others in the information sphere.

Today, companies are investing in research and development globally. You can either predict the future, or create it. The future belongs to those who can not only think differently, but also create products and services that people will seek in the future.

3. MATERIAL SITUATIONS

Here, material means money, machines and even technology. The way business is done is changing drastically.

So what plans does a CEO have in place to handle rising costs, rapid technological changes and financial instability? A leader has to think deep on each issue and create alternative and back-up plans.

There are always two routes: Either let the situation come up first and then change accordingly. Or study and understand the situation – even before it comes up – to be ready with the right alternatives. In other words, being prepared for the inevitable change.

So get into the habit of creating alternatives in every given situation.

This is how one can manage power efficiently.

(The author, Radhakrishnan Pillai is a “strategic leadership” consultant and trainer)

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