BUSINESS ASHRAMA

Ancient Values Spur Today’s Management

Age-old wisdom of Indian seers catching on in mundane matters.

Dr. A JAGAN MOHAN REDDY  

Management has become an essential feature of everyday life- at home, in office, factory or in government. In all types of organizations where a group of people assemble for a common purpose, management principles come into play in connection with the utilization of resources, finance and planning, policies and procedures.

Management is a systematic way of carrying out activity in any field of human effort. Lack of management causes disorder, confusion, wastage, delay, destruction and even depression.

Deploying men, money and materials in the best possible way, according to circumstances and environment, is the most important factor in successful management. Of late, there has been a surge of interest in the concept of spirituality in management.

According to management gurus, basically there are two reasons for this increased interest in spirituality. First, the employees’ need for meaningful existence. People are looking for more meaning not only in their personal but also professional life. Second, corporate leadership is looking for newer ways to motivate employees and provide innovative solutions.

What Is Spirituality?

According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, the word spirituality means “ the quality of being concerned with religion or the human spirit.” However, there are different interpretations of the word by different people. Some associate it with God, while some others consider it a state of mental peace and happiness. Whatever the interpretation, spirituality is a clear process to develop a sense of morality and ethics within oneself, which helps the individual to be stable and correct during interpersonal transactions.

Why Talk of Spirituality?

According to Napoleon Bonaparte, there are only two powers in the world—the spirit and the sword. In the long run, the sword will be defeated by the spirit.

The University of California-trained Harold Quinton and the distinguished Professor of Business Policy at the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, Professor Ian I. Mitrott, in their study after extensive interaction with over 200 leaders of organizations, “A Spiritual Audit of Corporate America” found that spirituality is one of the most important determinants of organizational performance.

Spiritually better evolved people achieve better results. In fact, spirituality may well be the ultimate competitive advantage.

Based on their research, they have presented five models existing in America today. It will be interesting to note that of them only one model has anything to do with religion and the others focus on values, meaning and the potentiality of human beings and the community.

Studies have proved time and again that by implanting the concept of spirituality at the work place tremendous successes can be achieved. It is nothing but a process of acknowledging that people come to work with more than their bodies and minds; they bring individual talent and unique spirits.

Nowadays spirituality in management is a key topic at seminars and conferences. A number of factors have brought spirituality to the center stage of discussions. A few of them are:

  • Corporate downsizing and retrenchment

  • Luxurious lifestyles

  • Balancing personal and professional life.

  • Materialistic business approach.

  • Role conflicts

Besides these, spirituality has gained importance because of the problem of survival in this hypercompetitive world, where growth of education, social upliftment, etc., are common features. Employees no longer are happy with professional success or material gains.

Pressure on Human Resource

In the knowledge-driven society of today human resource provides the cutting edge to organizations, as all other resources are equally accessible. In the other words, to create either structured or consumer capital, human capital is the king. So, there is a lot of focus and pressure on the human resource to give off its best.

Such performance pressure is bound to create stress and strain at the work place, resulting in under performance. That is why nowadays spirituality is being practiced at the work place through various tools and techniques.

The techniques may be different, but all of them aim at the same goal, that is, to awaken your inner self, to justify your way of work and to make you mentally and morally fit, so that you give off your best to the organization to accomplish the organizational goals. Some popular tools of spirituality being used now-a-days are:

  • Vipasaana : Silent meditation

  • Transcendental Meditation

  • Pranayama

  • Sudarsana Kriya

  • Practice of Raja Yoga

  • Siddha Samadhi Yoga (SSY)

Some opine that spirituality is a fad. But, then, what is wrong in that? As long as it provides better solutions to business and personal problems, even a fad can be good and useful. In fact, this is the reason for the growing interest in spirituality.

For Functioning with Integrity

It is interesting to note that US President George W. Bush recently asked his immediate subordinates to take a course in ethical behavior. By doing so, Bush has only reaffirmed the emerging need, even in an age of technology and rationality, for public figures and those in positions of responsibility to function with integrity.

As all know, no administrator can afford to ignore the fundamental link between effective leadership and integrity. While people may set flexible standards for themselves in day-to-day life, they invariably expect high standards from those who progress to lead them, that is, leadership by authenticity. So, whether Bush is engaged in an image-enhancing exercise or he is genuinely concerned over falling standards of ethical behavior , the issue remains relevant.

There are countless training programmes in the corporate sector in India and abroad that aim at revitalizing the company in a spiritual fashion. Mr. Mitroff and Mr. Denton in their study asked their respondents “what meaning does spirituality have for them even if no one else agrees with it.” Certain ideas were offered over and over again. This led them to define spirituality as:

  • Personal, not structured, organized or formal, in contrast with conventional religion.

  • Non-denominational

  • Inclusive of, embracing every one.

  • Universal and timeless and

  • The ultimate source and provider of meaning and purpose.

Is It Really Practised?

Is spirituality really being practiced? The answer is simply ‘yes’. Spirituality has the power to obtain the desired results and to minimize human relations problems’ hence, it is gaining priority nowadays among professionals as well as academicians.

It will not be wrong to state that spiritual methodologies have been considered as the last hope by business and professions to tackle all problems. In this era of cut-throat competition, survival is possible only for companies and businesses which are spiritual, besides being professional.

Thus, today, spirituality is an integral part of every business activity. Buzz words such as TQM, MBO and JIT, are being replaced by phrases, such as  Aham Brahmasmi  and Tat Tvam Asi. For young managers the Bhagavad Gita, the Mahabharata, the Panchatantra  and the Vedas  are the new encyclopedia for management.

More than 120 companies in India have tie-ups with Maharashi Mahesh Yogi’s Meditation Courses to revitalize their work force. A study by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) shows that regular practice of Sudarshan Kriya  and Pranayama  increase the flow of positive emotions. The Mount Abu based Brahamakumaris teach regularly the value of listening, tolerance, adaptability and decision making through the practice of RajaYoga  to corporate personnel.

Leading companies are using the principles of social responsibility and good corporate governance. While some are considered to be highly conscious of social and environmental problems, some others are practicing ethical standards.

Age-old Wisdom

The age-old wisdom of the Indian seers seems to have caught on today in the world of management. It will only be a reclaiming of our heritage if we in India return to our spiritual lineage and reshape it, if need be, to suit the present claims. It is apparent that we are well placed to take advantage of this knowledge economy, owing to our celebrated spiritual heritage. Indian spirituality is waiting in the corporate corridors ready to serve the business community. The need is for an awareness of it.  

Art of Relieving Stress

Spirituality now is something more than simple meditation and yoga. It is the art of relieving stress and mental hazards. As rightly said by Prof. S.K.Chakraborty, Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, “Industry is boldly mining the depths of Indian Wisdom, the Vedaas, the Upanishads and the Puranas, looking for a frame work springing from Indian roots and thought. It is time we rediscovered our own ethos and cultural context if we are to give meaningful and relevant management skills to the youth of the nation.”

Certainly spirituality in the workplace is an idea whose relevance is being realized more and more.

Dr. A. Jagan Mohan Reddy is Associate Professor (HR) at the Institute of Public Enterprise, Osmania University campus, Hyderabad. He can be reached at adamareddy@yahoo.co.in

A Place for Grooming KarmYogi's

This EXPERIMENT is based on the fact that
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