Excellence is not a skill, it’s the attitude. It’s not about exhibiting it once; but living it every moment and exhibiting it in each of the activities. Sutras compiled from various Bhaartiya Shaastras emphasizing on Excellence.

ॐ अग्निमीले पुरोहितं यज्ञस्य देवमृत्विजम होतारं रत्नधातमम

Rigved 1.1.1 

Literal Meaning:

Om, I praise Agni who is the priest of Yajna (Sacrifice ritual), Priest leading the Sacrifice, as well as the Priest performing Sacrifice at proper times; the Yajna which is directed towards the Devas. Agni, who is (also) the Priest invoking the Gods and the bestower of Wealth of physical, mental and spiritual plane

Deeper Meaning:

We glorify Agni, the fire energy, who is the well wisher of our future; the divine inspirer of our efforts and the giver of great wealth

This first verse of the sacred Rig Ved, is called the Agni Sukta. It has deep significance and needs careful examination. Agni here is the first divine being recognized by our Rishis. It is a symbol of that which ignites, lights, burns, burnishes, processes, warms and nourishes. What the output of this Fire is, depends on what input is provided

This verse from the Ved teaches us to put in great efforts and limitless endeavors into our organization (where we work), just like the Yajna. This, in turn, will grant us immense prosperity for a long time, as output!

What are we willing to sacrifice?

समानी व आकूतिः समाना हृदयानि वः समानमस्तु वो मनो यथा वः सुसहासति।।

RigVed 10552 

Aligned be our aspirations; aligned be our heart’s desires; aligned be our thoughts; so that we may live happily, in unison

Earlier, we studied the first verse of RigVed where we were introduced to Agni, now we study this beautiful last verse of RigVed

This verse from our most sacred scripture –  tells us what an organization means: It starts with a shared purpose, then individual goals being in alignment, then the thoughts which arise for performance of action. If all these happen, without doubt, the organization will be a thriving and happy organism, with the whole being larger than the sum of parts! Behold the profundity of this verse.


बहुनामैकमत्यं हि नृपतेर्बलक्तरम्। बहुसूचकृतो रज्जुः सिंहाघाकर्षण क्षमः ।।

Shukra Niti 4.7.419 

The opinion of the multitudes is stronger than (the power of) the King! It is like a rope, made of numerous threads, which develop the capacity. – to drag (even) a lion

The next gem of Neetishaastr enunciates that the Leader’s authority is secondary. It is the people that he/she serves that come first!

The second lesson we are taught – is that each individual may seem relatively weak, but when they unite – the collective strength is immense! In other words, the rest of the organization is where the power is, not at the Top. This should always be respected!

As a Leader, do you lay enough emphasis on the collective conscience? Examine carefully.

यतकरोषि यदश्नासि यज्जुहोषि ददासि यत्। यत्तपस्यासि कौन्तेय तत्कुरुष्य मदर्पणम् ।।

Bhagavad Geeta 9.27


You, O son of Kunti, dedicate to me – whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer as oblation, that which you give, as also your penance!


The Bhagavad Geeta, of which the Mahabhaarat is a shining backdrop, teaches us the supreme virtue of Leadership!

Vyaas Rishi offers us some practical advice – Leadership should be free of pride and arrogance – these are self-defeating traits. But how to practise them, considering that Leadership often brings with it, power, prestige, and privileges? The key word is submission to the higher, it could be a cherished God or a Guru or simply treating the purpose itself as the Divine. Then thinking thus, every single breath, thought, movement, word and action is in the name of the Divine. When the most sacred is the guide for your living moments, the Leader will always be within the bounds of righteousness, counsels the Master!


Look back on the past 5 years of your professional life.  Ask yourself “How do I look at my achievements today – do I feel a glow of gratitude or do they make me conceited?” Also reflect on your own language and behaviour with your junior most team members!

मर्यादातीतम् न कदाचित अपि विश्वसेत्।

Chanakya Sutra 18.5

Not even once, should the Leader trust one, who has transgressed the limits!

Acharya Chanakya, the great exponent of Neetishaastra – emphasises the aspect of whom to delegate work to – and whom not to!

This advice from the Acharya follows an earlier advice, which was about setting the highest standards of behaviour. Now he guides us that responsibilities are to be assigned not merely on competence – but also on reliability. The Leader – 1. Should never trust even the closest persons blindly 2. Be continuously aware of the attitude and actions of deputies 3. Entrust those with key tasks, who have never compromised purpose and 4. Most of all, be mindful to never get carried away by performance alone – check the methods too, declares Chanakya!

Do this – do an audit of your deputies – who are those who place purpose of organization above performance? Now study – how have you encouraged and supported them?

करिष्यामिति ते कार्य न कुर्यात्कार्यलम्बनम। द्राक्कुर्यात्त समर्थश्चेत्साशं दीर्घ न रक्षयेत्।।

Shukra Niti 2.232

Having assured (someone) that “(your) work will happen”, that work should not, at all be delayed. It should be speedily executed if he/ she has the capacity to do it (or get it done); no one should be kept waiting (by the Leader)!

The great Acharya Shukr, one of the earliest masters of Neetishaastra reminds Leaders of  the importance of  their own word(s)

Clearly conveying the value of strengthening the confidence placed in him/ her, he recommends that the Leader : 1.  Should never commit without forethought to any stakeholder  2. Having committed, there should be urgency in getting that commitment executed 3. If the competence is not available within the organization, a worthy partner must be identified and the project accomplished in quick time and 4. Must build a positive experience for stakeholders in the process of that implementation. The Leader is the Chief Trust Officer for the organization and he/ she must ensure that there is no room for reneging!

Acting proactively yourself and ensuring the deputies also profess the same – is your organization the most trusted for doing this?

कातर्यं केवला नीतिः शौर्यंशवापदचेष्ठितम्। अतः सिद्धिं समेताभ्यामुभाभ्यामन्वियेष सः।।

 Raghuvamsha XVII.47

Planning without courageous action is timidity; mere exertion without plan is like the acts of wild beasts; therefore he tried to accomplish through the employment of both (planning and exertion).

One more impactful verse from the great poet Kalidas tells us what modern Management tells us in last 100 years.

We are urged to consider and leverage both components of success – elaborate planning (goal, resources, milestones, backup plan, success measures) and hence well thought out execution of plan – then outcomes turn favorable says Kalidas.

Is this your Leadership Mantra for goal accomplishment too?

सर्वाः च संपद सर्वोपायेन परिग्रहेत।

Chanakya Sutras 9.5

 Every kind of resource must be acquired (and wealth generated) employing all types of methods

We continue to dwell on mindset of the Leader for the purpose of serving people.

This brilliant counsel is offered by Acharya Chanakya who teaches us the science of prosperity – The Leader has to firmly believe in leveraging available resources  – not at all limited to the material kind – knowledge, ideas, talent, relationships are examples of the intangible kind. These in turn, are converted into prosperity, using various innovative means.

How are you ensuring that you are not accumulating only money?

भाग्यवन्तम् अपरीक्ष्यकारिणम् श्रीः परित्यजति।

 Chanakya Sutras 9.7

The fortunes of a (hitherto) fortunate one begin to dwindle from one who carries out endeavours without (close) examination.

The great Acharya of Governance, Chanakya sounds a great word of caution to the Leader.

This valuable insight is easy to lose sight of. Chanakya tells us that never ever should the Leader let down his/ her guard. Leadership is a 24*7 exercise which has to be constantly supervising/ overseeing all key projects undertaken in the organization. No customer or other stakeholder should be taken lightly. Personal attention is key here – the Leader can sometimes anticipate far better than the troops.

As a Leader, do you have your ears to the ground or are you only a Boardroom Leader?

अभ्याभवति कल्याणं विविध वाक् सुभाषिता। सैव दुर्भाषिता राजान्नानर्थायोपपद्यते।।

Vidura Niti II.78

That which is conveyed in a pleasant manner brings benefits, in many ways. (On the other hand) that, which is uttered inappropriately, causes many troubles for the Leader.

Continuing with our theme of communication, Mahaatma Vidur guides the Leader on the power of communication.

This counsel from the Mahabhaarat makes it clear that communication of the Leader – spoken or written – is a tool which reaps many benefits; or a weapon which wreaks much havoc – depending upon its use by the wielder. Realizing this, he/ she must choose with care, every word, tone, pitch, gesture and expression!.

Do you make time to develop your communication each morning – is it improving each day?

समवृत्तिरुपैति मार्दवं समये यश्च तेनेति तिग्मताम्। अधितिष्ठति लोकमोजसा स विवस्वनिव मेदनीपतिः।।

Kiratarajuniya II.38

That Leader, who maintains an even course of self-conduct; and assumes mildness or severity at the appropriate time; (such a Leader) rules over the earth, just like the sun by his vitality!

Pandit Bharavi, the great poet of yore, explains that Leadership is about the application of the right measures of behaviour, at the right time!
These lines captured from this powerful poem, uses the sublime metaphor of the sun for the Leader. And what a metaphor it is, considering that the Sun nurtures the entire world, without claiming a shred of credit. Similarly, the Leader has to: 1. Burn himself/ herself in effort, while providing Seva that nourishes every being 2. He/ she needs to touch each life but the manner has to vary based on understanding the person/ persons 3. That done, he/ she needs to develop methods and processes of ensuring a combination of encouragement and the stringent 4. Be a master of timing, and employ measures meaningfully for getting desired outcomes. A scientist of human behaviour he/ she should be, proclaims Bharavi!

Make a plan to observe the Sun at 4 times of the day tomorrow – preferably at Sunrise, Noon, mid afternoon and at Sunset. Make copious notes of your observation of the Sun’s position, characteristics of ambient light, intensity, its effect on plants, birds and humans. Now write corresponding behaviours for Leadership!

दण्डः हि विज्ञाने प्रणीयते।

Chanakya Sutra 8.11

The practice of Governance, indeed, is led through scientific principles.

The Guru of Governance, Chanakya discusses the concept of Dandneeti, or Governance here.

Chanakya asserts that Leadership is the core of Governance. This is not just an art to be fashioned, but also a science to be learnt and mastered. It needs the Leader to  study – 1. One’s own self (daily) 2. The nature of humans – individually and as a group 3. The existing social order 4. Economic principles 5. The application of holistic thinking. All of this has to be strengthened regularly for effective practice, says Chanakya.

As a Leader, how are you sharpening your Leadership practice?


स किंसखा साधु न शास्ति यो अधिपं। सदानुकूलेषु हि कुर्वते रतिं नृपेष्वमात्येषु च सर्वसम्पदः।।

Kirataarjuniya I.5

What use is a counsellor (deputy) who does not prevail on his master with suitable advice; what is the purpose of a Leader who pays no heed to the Counsellors; for, Prosperity is delighted to attend a place where the Leader and Counsellors are in harmony.

The renowned poet Bhaaravi offers the next wisdom – in one of the great Sanskrit Kavyas of Neeti (6th Century) –  in terms of collaboration of the Leader and his/ her deputies.

Adapting to the place and time, Leaders must 1. Appoint capable deputies who are bold enough to raise key issues 2. Listen keenly to the counsel of the deputies 3. Draw out insights to arrive at the right decision 4. Create an environment, conducive to having divergent views without discord. All these ensure that actions are well considered and thus the long term outcome is success of the enterprise, says Bhaaravi.

Reflect today – does your Leadership breed co-operation or dissension?

यो ह्येकः साधको हेतुः स्वल्पस्यापीह कर्मणः। यो ह्यर्थं बहुधा वेद स समर्थो अर्थसाधने।।

(Valmiki Ramayan Sunder Kand 42.6)

The one who accomplishes work with little effort (and resources) is the effective doer; one who completes a paltry assignment with great efforts and resources, isnt.

In this verse from Ramayan, the great master Valmiki urges the Leader to view performance in an intelligent manner – often referred to as “Smart Work” in modern management.

The quantum of effort is no indicator of performance and even lesser is the consumption of organizational resources. Rather, stellar performance is that which is aligned to organizational vision and values and so well planned that accomplishment seems almost effortless. Less effort here is not an indicator of lethargy, but of acuity.

As a Leader, are you setting the right measures of Performance and success?

एषु स्थानेषु भूयिष्ठं विवादं चरतां नृणाम्। धर्म शाश्वतमाश्रित्य कुर्यात्कार्य विनिर्णयम॥

Manu Smriti 8.8

The numerous disputes which arise, should be settled (by the Leader) without bias. They should be resolved clearly and completely, using the Laws of Natural justice.

One of the first Leaders of Bhaarat offers perfect guidance on resolution of disagreements, debates and conflicts.

The necessary conditions for settlement have been given as 1. First clear one’s own mind of any pre conceived notions or dispositions 2. Leader should apply Dharm – that which is righteous, ethical, empathetic and fair 3. Leader has to think through to consider causes and repurcussions; and finally, 4. There should be no room for further conflict! Only then is it truly beneficial for all, says Manu.

Do you approach conflicts in your team with all the above considerations?

कार्यबहुत्वे बहुफलम आयतिकम कुर्यात।

Chanakya Sutra 12.14

(In the event of) there being multiple assignments (to be executed), the one which will yield maximum returns, is to be accorded priority.

Once again we have Acharya Chanakya, the Guru of Leadership, offering sage advice on determining priority of work.

Chanakya asserts that the Leader is one who understands, when preference should be given to one initiative, over other items. Here are the guidelines – 1. That which has maximum impact over the long term, 2. That which serves the maximum stakeholders and 3. That which is aligned to the organization’s purpose, that  carries the greatest weightage, says Chanakya, so make it a priority. Thus “maximum returns” requires the vision of the Leader, and has to be cultivated.

Introspect now – how do you decide which job needs your maximum attention and commitment?