10 Management Lessons from Ramayana – Lesson 7

10 Management Lessons from Ramayana – Lesson 7


Importance of Emotional Intelligence

Having realized that the fire on his tail did not hurt him, he wondered if it was the grace of Sita or the kindness of the fire god (Agni), who is a friend of his father the wind god. Being astute, he did not want to let go of such a wonderful opportunity. He decided to burn the fort of Lanka so that it will be easy to invade when they march on it. He thought this could also be a befitting tribute to Agni for his compassion.

So Hanuman leaped from Ravana’s court and started to torch all the important buildings. Soon, the fire was carried by the wind across Lanka. The magnificent city was ruined. Its citizens ran for cover. Many were killed and those who survived were struggling to put the fire off.

Satisfied with his work, Hanuman proceeded to the ocean and dipped his tail in it to extinguish the fire on it. Just when he wanted to mull over his victory a sense of gloom arose. Hanuman realized that his action could have put even Sita’s life in danger! When the fire was raging across Lanka will it spare the ashoka vana alone?

Hanuman chided himself for being so reactive. He was focussed only on getting back at Ravana for the offense he caused and he did not think about the consequences. He further lamented that anger can make sane people do even the foulest of things. He realized that due to lack of control over his emotions he has defeated the purpose of his visit. If Sita has perished in the fire then what use was his flight across the ocean, overcoming of rakshashas and meeting Ravana? With a single act of haste Hanuman had jeopardized all that he had worked for.

Just like the moon peeping out of dark clouds, a ray of hope arose in Hanuman’s mind. If Agni was kind enough not to hurt him, will he burn the virtuous Sita, he wondered? He hoped that Sita was alright. Just as he was thinking what to do next, a group of Charanas (heavenly beings) moved across the sky chatting how the fire has left Vibhishana’s house and Sita’s ashoka vana unharmed. This provided great solace to Hanuman. He thanked his good fortunes and set forth to ascertain Sita’s safety before leaving.

Just as he hoped, Sita was safely seated under the same tree. Hanuman expressed his relief to her. Sita in turn admired Hanuman’s ability and valor. She reiterated ‘though you are capable of overrunning Lanka by yourself, it befits Rama to conquer Ravana and take me back. So Hanuman, go and plan such a strategy that shall restore our honor’. With this Hanuman took Sita’s permission to leave. He then assumed a giant form climbed on a rock and with a war cry flew across the ocean, northwards, to meet his waiting army.

This episode holds within itself the important lessons on how to conduct ourselves when we are offended or when we win. The episode illustrates the importance of emotional intelligence. No matter how skilled we are, how intelligent our team is, without emotional intelligence we will not be able to progress towards our goals in a holistic manner. The importance of emotional intelligence can be summarized in the following four points:

  1. Ensures objective thinking: Emotional Intelligence helps us to think about a problem or an issue in an objective manner. This is vital for people in client facing roles, an angry client must not be seen as a problem to be disposed, but he should be seen as a challenge to better ourselves. Such clarity will emerge only when have our emotions in control.
  2. Prevents knee jerk reactions: This point is more to do with our communication style. Often when we are faced with a great victory or a daunting challenge, we may be tempted to react in a frivolous fashion. It is important for us to take a minute and compose ourselves before reacting. The ability to reflect before communicating comes only by honing emotional intelligence
  3. Compliments analytical/business intelligence: Even a personality like Hanuman, who is wise and clever, was almost derailed from his mission due to a momentary lapse in emotions. So no matter how skilled we are analytically or how strong our business acumen is, we need to build emotional intelligence. Only a combination of all these will help us progress towards our goal by handling the changes in fortunes and managing our stakeholders well.
  4. Promotes big picture thinking: Only people with high emotional intelligence will be able to ‘take one for team’ this is because they focus on the long term gain over the temporary short term loss. Hence it is important that we use our judgement before we accept or reject and proposal, no matter how good it may sound.

Who was the first person Hanuman met after crossing the ocean? Wait till we find out in the next episode. Till then don’t hesitate to mail your views and comments to psmadankumar@gmail.com.

If you want to catch up what happened before this, read the previous post (Lesson #6) here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/10-management-lessons-from-ramayana-lesson-6-madan-panathula?trk=mp-author-card

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