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Maintain Secrets to Avoid Attacks

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 leader holds a very responsible position in any team and, hence, also in an organisation. He has to be very careful in his talks and with the words he uses. A single, wrong statement from his end can destroy his organisation.

One of the important factors that a leader should know is how to maintain secrecy.

Kautilya warns the leaders,

“To as many persons the lord of men (the leader) communicates a secret; to so many does he become subservient, being helpless by that act (of his)” (1.8.9)

There are various projects and issues that the leader should never talk about in the open. Until and unless the right time comes, he should not make them publicly known, at least till such a time which is right.

Every work being executed in an organisation goes through three stages – conceptualisation stage, preparation stage and delivery stage. At each stage, there are key ‘secrets’ that only a leader should know. He should never let others know these secrets.

What if he keeps telling his secrets to others? Let’s look at two possible repercussions:


A leader has to bow down to all the people who know his secrets. If more people come to know his secret, the leader will have to bend down that much more. A leader should always be in control of the situation, and not allow others to control him. If he has spoken the ‘right’ thing to the ‘wrong’ person, he has to be at the mercy of such a person to keep that secret intact. Such a person can not only blackmail, but also leak the information to even competitors and enemies.


Having opened out his secret to others, the leader becomes totally helpless. Instead of thinking of how to carry out his plans, he will be worrying about how to protect himself from the attack of others.

A golden rule in business is, think twice before you speak. Even a tailor is adviced during his apprentice days, “Measure twice, but cut once”.

Kautilya’s (Chanakya’s), enemies were afraid of him because they could never understand what his next move would be. He always had multiple plans ready in his mind. If one plan failed, he was ready to attack with the next, totally surprising his enemies.

Chandrashekhar Azad, the freedom fighter, was another person who was always a mystery to every one. He would never allow anyone to know where he would be going next. Not only the British, but even his own team members, like Bhagat Singh, would not know his hideouts. He believed that he was ‘Azad’ - the ever free person. If he wanted to be truly free, he had to keep himself unknown to others.

Therefore to be free – keep your mouth shut!

Contributed by  - Radhakrishnan Pillai

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