The Bhagavad Gita is an ancient Eastern philosophical literature. It presents the counsel of Krishna to Arjuna – two prominent leaders of the epic of Mahabharata.

This ancient text has never been studied in the leadership context. If we look closely, the wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita contains many leadership lessons that are similar to contemporary leadership theories and practices. Consider some of these lessons embedded within the Gita:

Leaders should embrace rather than avoid formidable challenges because they bring out the leaders’ greatest strengths

Leaders should be resilient in their actions and should not be weakened by pain and pleasure.

Selfish desires and animosity obscure the purpose of leadership.

Leaders achieve lasting power and glory by exercising compassion and selfless service.

Effective leaders do not lead by fear or anger.

Character is core to effective leadership.

Leaders need to be aware of the self and the surroundings.

Many contemporary leadership topics such as emotional intelligence, situational leadership, character, and integrity were already discussed in the Bhagavad Gita thousands of years ago. These topics were discussed in a philosophical context, as management science as we know it today did not exist then. It is also intriguing to find other management concepts embedded in the Gita.

The leadership lessons of Krishna, as described in the Bhagavad Gita, attest that the subject of leadership was profound in the ancient East and its principles are still applicable to businesses and organizations today.

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