You are sifting through countless resumes that HR has piled up on your desk. As you take in all the buzz words and try to differentiate candidates from one another, imagine that a celestial nymph suddenly appears on your desk and grants you a boon. She tells you that you can bring any five characters of the Mahabharata to life. Not only that, you can hire them to run your company.
Whom would you pick? Here are my top five in no particular order. (Sorry, the "famous five" are not the list and neither is their guardian angel!)
A 360-degree leader who needs no designation
Although he's famous for taking a vow of celibacy, it's not why I would hire him.
Bhishma was never anointed as the king but he always acted like one. His influence on everyone was unequivocal. He won battles and built a gargantuan kingdom through his vision. He was an impeccable executioner, his éclat coming through in his ability to lead without a title.
It is important to have a leader like him in any organization who can influence all stakeholders from investors to customers to teams. Someone who is so selflessly devoted to his vision that he can lead without even an official designation.
A determined leader who stands by you
Yes, you heard it right! The despicable villain of the Mahabharata! But I would love to hire him because he had the ability to call a spade a spade. He never acquiesced to social doctrines such as caste system, despite being slandered. He was loyal to his friends. He stood by what he believed in and fought for it until his last breath. Yes, he had flaws but that made him more human than his contemporaries.
Nothing to me is more important than ensuring that the people in my company are valued. Leaders like him make people put their faith in the company. They can trust in being treated fairly and that their leader will stand by them no matter what.
A self-disciplined leader who can teach himself
Ekalavya was famous for offering his thumb to his teacher, who did not want him to be better at archery than his student Arjuna. But that's not why I'm drawn to him.
My characters are not the heroes of the epic. What draws me to them is that they were all real humans, with flaws and vulnerabilities.
He was the most disciplined and focused of all. Despite being rejected by his teacher, he never gave up on his resolve to master archery. He used unconventional ways, imposed self-discipline, and trained himself patiently to become an exceptional archer. He emerged as a hero not because of his DNA but despite of it.
I would hire Ekalavya for the self-discipline required to realize an organization's vision.
A benevolent CEO who never complains
If there was one character who was victimized for no fault of his it was Karna. Yet instead of getting sucked into the vortex of his sufferings, he chose to fight and change his karma.
Karna was valiant but benign. He was fiercely loyal towards his friend Duryodhana. His generosity was exemplary. Such was his magnanimity that he even forced the gods of his time to gift Duryodhana superpowers.
He is my ideal CEO. Loyal. Generous with his people. Someone who helps his company get out of tough situations without complaining and blaming external situations such as market conditions.
An agile leader who is tougher than her situations
No, she didn't make it on my list for the sake of diversity! Draupadi was the epitome of strength and agility. It was she who brought unity and solidarity to all Pandava warriors. She was forced into a life that she didn't choose (marrying five brothers). She was mocked and humiliated, thanks to her husbands. But she took it all in her stride—she adapted to her circumstances and fought back.
Change is a constant with every organization. A leader has to be agile and composed especially during tough times. She needs to hold fort and be a source of strength to the rest of the team. Draupadi is that kind of leader.
My characters are not the heroes of the epic. What draws me to them is that they were all real humans, with flaws and vulnerabilities. They had vices as well as virtues. When life shot arrows at them, they fought back instead of using righteousness as their shield to call for some divine powers to intervene.
If you look at any successful organization, you will find these characters in the form of leaders showing everyone else the way. Times are different now but not so much. Kingdoms have evolved into organizations. People are still the same.
So here I am passing the boon on to you now. Whom would you hire?