Importance of Knowledge for a Leader
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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.

Swami Vivekananda had once predicted that India will rise on the basis of knowledge. True enough, knowledge has become the greatest asset of our country. As more and more projects are getting outsourced to India, we have to focus more on our strength of knowledge.

Whether it is KPO (knowledge process outsourcing) or R&D (research and development), India has great advantages over its counterparts.

However, the knowledge cannot be restricted to just hiring intelligent mangers from top B schools. The leader or the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the organisation himself should be a knowledge seeker.

Kautilya advices,

“Just as an elephant, blinded by intoxication and mounted by an intoxicated driver, crushes whatever it finds (on the way), so the king, not possessed of the eye of science, and (hence) blind, has risen to destroy the citizens and the country people” (1.14.7)

The CEO of an organisation holds a position of power and is the commander and the decision maker. However, if he gets intoxicated by his power and position alone, it will definitely not be long before he looses his chair, may be even destroy the organisation itself.

This is where we need Kautilya’s advice for focusing on knowledge. A leader should focus on making his organisation a knowledge organisation. But, first he has to start with himself.

Here are a few tips for this:

1. Gather more information.

A CEO should have his information-gathering systems in place. He should get any information he requires at the speed of thought. He can use technology to gather quick information. But always remember: Information does not mean knowledge.

2. Study the knowledge acquired

Its very important for a CEO to study and analyse the information he gathers. He should spend at least an hour per day to read books and learn something new and regularly meet experts of different fields, at least once a week.

3. Experiment

What the CEO has learnt should be used to experiment with his organisation. Try a new method, invest in a new technology. Take measures. Take calculate risks. A part of his budget should be allocated for research and development.

4. Train

Next, he should train his own staff and team members about the new findings. No leader should be afraid that he will loose his position and authority if his subordinates become better than him. That only shows insecurity and ‘ego’ on the part of the leader. Learn to delegate and trust your subordinates.

Our country today requires more and more knowledge oriented CEOs. As Rabindranath Tagore wrote in the Geetanjali,

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high,

.. where knowledge is free.. ,

….Into that heaven of freedom my father let my country awake…”

Contributed by  - Radhakrishnan Pillai

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