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Catch 'em Young, Train 'em Young

This article explores the relevance and application of Principles and Strategies discussed in the 3rd Century BC treatise, Kautilya’s Arthashastra, in Today’s Corporate World.

A child psychologist was once asked by a father, “My son is eight years old. When should I start teaching him the values of life?” Pat came the reply: “Start right now! You are already eight years late!”

Management training is somewhat similar. Leaders usually wonder when they should start training their juniors and subordinates for taking up higher responsibilities at the management level.

Kautilya advices the teachers and students go begin management education as early as possible.

He says:

“For, a fresh object absorbs whatever it is smeared with. Similarly, this prince, immature in intellect, understands as the teaching of the science whatever it is told. Therefore, he should instruct him in what conduces to spiritual and material good, not in what is spiritually and materially harmful” (1.17.31-33)

It is important for the various B-schools and corporate trainers to understand that management is not just an activity or position, but a ‘mindset’ that needs to be developed as early as possible. Training by various instructions, case studies and also giving live examples will attune the mind of young people to handle management responsibilities in a better manner.

Why should one start early?


Young persons have an open mind. Since they are not yet exposed to pressures of targets, financial burdens and other major responsibilities of an organisation, they can learn very well. Like water it takes the shape of any vessel it is poured into.


The more young you are, faster is your learning capacity. A young person has a strong memory, which means he or she can understand and imbibe knowledge quickly. Moreover anything told to them is permanently etched on their minds.

However, Kautilya warns the kind of inputs that needs to be given.


One should teach the young and aspiring managers moral standards right from beginning.

There is no point telling them to be “ethical” after practicing corruption and bribery for a long time. They need to be taught such values even before they enter the corporate world.
In fact, not only do they need to be given instructions on moral standards, but they have to be practiced by the persons who are teaching them.

Leaders of various companies have to evolve themselves as good teachers than just being executives running organisations.

Teaching and mentoring the young ones personally has to be in the top agenda of every CEO. Leaders should share all the treasures of experiences they have got with the aspiring youngster.

Recently in an interview, Aditya Birla Management Corporation’s director Santrupt Mishra, Director, said, “I’m always teaching. Sometimes it’s in a classroom, and sometimes through face-to-face meetings”.

Contributed by  - Radhakrishnan Pillai

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