Transformational Leadership from Valmiki Ramayana

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This paper explores the transformational leadership style
demonstrated by Sri Rama in Valmiki Ramayana, which has transformed and
continues to transform millions of Indians even today. According to Burns
(1978), leadership occurs in one of the two ways: either transactional or
transformational. Transactional leadership involves an exchange of valued
things, based on current values and motivations of both leaders and followers.
Transactional leaders emphasise the clarification of tasks, work standards, and
outcomes. In contrast, Burns (1978) characterised transformational leadership
as a process that motivates followers by appealing to higher ideals and moral
values. Transformational leaders are able to define and articulate a vision for
their organisation; society, country and their leadership style can transform
their followers towards higher performance. The transformational leadership
had long been demonstrated by Sri Rama thousands of years before the
introduction and the development of transformational leadership model by
Burns (1978) and later by Bass and Avolio (1994). This paper specifically
explores and explains the transformational leadership style demonstrated by Sri
Rama, which consists of four dimensions (4 Is), namely, Inspirational
Motivation (IM), Idealised Influence (II), Intellectual Stimulation (IS) and
Individualised Consideration (IC) as developed by Bass and Avolio (1994).
This paper is based on the review of literatures on transformational
leadership and a qualitative research methodology called hermeneutics, which
is the interpretation of an ancient or a classical literature (Valmiki Ramayana).
The author hopes that these lessons in leadership by Sri Rama will guide and
inspire the leaders not only in the Indian context, but also universally.

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Transformational Leadership from Valmiki Ramayana

  1. 1. 104 Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 1, Nos. 1/2, 2007Transformational leadership style demonstrated bySri Rama in Valmiki Ramayana Balakrishnan A/L Muniapan Human Resource Management, School of Business, Curtin University of Technology, CDT 250, 98009 Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia Fax: + 60 85 443950 E-mails: bala.m@curtin.edu.my; mbalakrsna@yahoo.com Abstract: This paper explores the transformational leadership style demonstrated by Sri Rama in Valmiki Ramayana, which has transformed and continues to transform millions of Indians even today. According to Burns (1978), leadership occurs in one of the two ways: either transactional or transformational. Transactional leadership involves an exchange of valued things, based on current values and motivations of both leaders and followers. Transactional leaders emphasise the clarification of tasks, work standards, and outcomes. In contrast, Burns (1978) characterised transformational leadership as a process that motivates followers by appealing to higher ideals and moral values. Transformational leaders are able to define and articulate a vision for their organisation; society, country and their leadership style can transform their followers towards higher performance. The transformational leadership had long been demonstrated by Sri Rama thousands of years before the introduction and the development of transformational leadership model by Burns (1978) and later by Bass and Avolio (1994). This paper specifically explores and explains the transformational leadership style demonstrated by Sri Rama, which consists of four dimensions (4 Is), namely, Inspirational Motivation (IM), Idealised Influence (II), Intellectual Stimulation (IS) and Individualised Consideration (IC) as developed by Bass and Avolio (1994). This paper is based on the review of literatures on transformational leadership and a qualitative research methodology called hermeneutics, which is the interpretation of an ancient or a classical literature (Valmiki Ramayana). The author hopes that these lessons in leadership by Sri Rama will guide and inspire the leaders not only in the Indian context, but also universally. Keywords: Indian leadership; transformational leadership; Valmiki Ramayana. Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Muniapan, B. (2007) ‘Transformational leadership style demonstrated by Sri Rama in Valmiki Ramayana’, Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 1, Nos. 1/2, pp.104–115. Biographical notes: Balakrishnan A/L Muniapan received his MSc in HRM from the University of Portsmouth, UK in 1998 and a BEcons from the National University of Malaysia in 1993. Currently, he teaches HRM, OB, International Management, and Asian Management at the Curtin University of Technology, Malaysia. He is also an active HRM and Industrial Law consultant and has conducted trainings for more than 50 organisations in Malaysia,Copyright © 2007 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
  2. 2. Transformational leadership style 105 Singapore and China. He has also presented HRM and HRD related papers and topics at conferences and seminars in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Japan and Australia.1 Introduction “KUjantam rAma rAmeti madhuram madrurAksaram; Aruhya kavitA sAkhAm vande vAlmiki kokiLam” “I salute Valmiki, the cuckoo, who, perching on the tree of poesy, melodiously sing the sweet syallables – Rama, Rama” (Ranganathanda Swami cited in Subramaniam, 2003, p.vii).The verses of Valmiki Ramayana were sung in every royal court and around villagesthroughout India many thousands of years before Shakespeare. Even 200 years ago,British missionaries were astonished to find Indians discussing and quoting from theRamayana in everyday conversation (Vikasa, 2000). Still today, many Indian parentsname their children after Sri Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata, Satrughana, Kausalya,Sumitra and other personalities from the Ramayana. In Southeast Asian countriesespecially in Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia, Ramayana has enriched thenational literatures, and has also provided themes for every form of their art such asdrama, dance, music, painting and sculpture (Ranganathanda Swami cited inSubramaniam, 2003). The original version of Ramayana is the Valmiki Ramayanacomposed by Sri Valmiki Muni in Sanskrit language. Valmiki Ramayana became thesource for many other popular versions of Ramayana such as Adhyatma Ramayana(Sanskrit), Tulsidas Ramayana (Hindi), Kamba Ramayana (Tamil), EzhuttachanRamayana (Malayalam) and many other versions of Ramayana in all the languages of thestates in India as well as in Southeast Asian languages such as Burmese, Cambodian,Thai, Javanese, Khotanese Laotian, Malay, Indonesian and Tagalog. The Ramayana iscalled Ramakien in Thailand, Serat Rama in Indonesia, Hikayat Seri Rama in Malaysia,the Yama Pwe in Myanmar and the Maharadia Lawana in the Philippines (Rosen, 2002).As Tulsidas, the author of Ramcharitamanas (Tulsidas Ramayana) said, ‘Ramakatha kaimiti jaga nahi’ – it is impossible to keep count of Ramakathas (Ramayana versions) inthis world (Sundaram, 2002). The stories and the personalities associated with the lila(pastimes) of Sri Rama have captured the hearts of over three billion people worldwide.‘Ram katha jag mangal karni’ quotes Tulsidas, which means the story of Sri Rama willbring about the good of the world (Sharma, 2002). Valmiki Ramayana is known as Adikavya or the first poem and Sri Valmiki Muni isknown as Adikavi or the first poet. It has of 24,000 verses divided into six Kandas(books) namely Bala Kanda, Ayodhya Kanda, Aranya Kanda and Yuddha Kanda, aseventh Kanda named Uttara Kanda stands apart from the main epic (Tapasyananda,1991). Valmiki Ramayana offers lessons by great personalities in leadership especially,Sri Rama, King Dasaratha, King Sugriva, Sri Hanuman and even from King Ravana. SriRama’s story is even found in the Mahabharata, where a sage narrates to Yudhisthira thebasic exploits of Sri Rama. This section, called the Ramopakhyana, occurs in the AranyaParva (third book which narrates the forest life) of the Mahabharata. The ninth canto of
  3. 3. 106 B. MuniapanSri Vyasa Munis’s Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana) also describes the adventures andlilas (pastimes) of Sri Rama. Valmiki Ramayana is an epic poem of India, which narrates the journey of virtue toannihilate vice. Sri Rama is the hero and aayana (journey) is his journey and adventures(Rao and Murthy, 2003). The Valmiki Ramayana is written in beautiful poetic slokas(verses), which contains much wisdoms and lessons in all aspect of human life. There arelessons in dharma (righteousness), artha (economic development), kama (fulfilment ofdesires) and moksha (liberation). The Valmiki Ramayana is the standard history of SriRama. Verily, a veda (knowledge) by itself was revealed by Sri Valmiki Muni, in theform of Ramayana when Sri Rama, the seventh avatara (incarnation) of Maha Vishnuwho is the goal of Vedas came as the son of King Dasaratha (VedavEdyE parE pUnsijAtE DasarathAtmaje; Vedah prAchEtAsAdAsit sakshAdrAmAyanAtmanA). ValmikiRamayana is a majestic epic, expounding dharma (righteousness, occupational duty) byway of depicting the great heroic life of the ideal person, Sri Rama (Sivananda, 1996).The narration of Valmiki Ramayana revolves around the life and character of Sri Ramawho was born to King Dasaratha – the King of Ayodhya. Sri Rama acted as an ideal king,ideal son, ideal brother, ideal husband, ideal friend, and ideal student and even as an idealenemy. The greatness of Valmiki Ramayana cannot be adequately described. The life ofthe ‘ideal man’ (Sri Rama) described in Valmiki Ramayana is an incentive to all men tostrive to become embodiments of dharma (Sivananda, 1996). The beauties of ValmikiRamayana are really beyond human description. Unless one has read the entire ValmikiRamayana, it is difficult to describe its greatness as only those who have tasted honeyknows its sweetness as sweetness cannot be described by words. The first book of Valmiki Ramayana is called Bala Kanda; it relates the divine birthof Sri Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Satrughana, Sri Rama’s childhood, his marriage toSita and his encounter with Parasurama. The second book (Ayodhya Kanda), narrates thepreparation for the coronation of Sri Rama, the intrigue that leads to his forest exile,Bharata search for Sri Rama, the meeting of the brothers and Bharata’s return to Ayodhyawith Sri Rama’s sandals. Aranya Kanda, the third book describes the forest life of SriRama, Sita and Laksmana, the personalities they met including Surpanaka, killings ofKhara and Dussana by Sri Rama, kidnapping of Sita by Ravana, Jatayu (slain by Ravana)dying on the lap of Sri Rama and meeting with Kabandha and Sabari. In the fourth book(Kishkinda Kanda), Sri Rama meets Hanuman and Sugriva and forms strategic alliancewith them and crowned Sugriva as the King of Kishkinda after killing Vali. This bookalso describes the start of the search for Sita and the vanaras (monkeys) going to thesouthern direction met Sampati (brother of Jatayu). Sundara Kanda is the fifth book. Thisbook describes beautifully the adventures and lila (pastimes) of Hanuman who managedto cross the ocean to find Sita and give her the message from Sri Rama along with SriRama’s ring. This book also describes Hanuman’s meeting with Ravana face to face andthe burning of Lanka. Yuddha Kanda, the sixth book, describes the surrender ofVibheeshana, the bridge construction and the long waited battle between Sri Rama’sarmy and that of Ravana plus the victorious return of Sri Rama to Ayodhya. The seventh book (Uttara Kanda), which stands apart from the main epic, is acontroversial one. Sri Rama’s sons Kusa and Lava are born to Sita in Valmiki’s ashram(hermitage), to which she had been banished by Sri Rama. Eventually, Kusa and Lava areestablished on the throne of Ayodhya. But Sita, broken at her banishment merges into theearth, and remorseful Rama departs to his celestial abode (Rosen, 2002).
  4. 4. Transformational leadership style 1072 LeadershipValmiki Ramayana has lessons in all aspects of human life. It also has lessons in politics,economics, sociology, psychology, management, human values, and ethics and so on.Management is an art of getting things done through people. Ancient civilisationsthroughout the history had methods by which they were managed (planning, organising,staffing, leading, motivating, controlling, decision making, etc.). Every king who ruledancient kingdoms had his own style of management, which includes administration andleadership. Leadership is an important function of management and also an importantelement in any organisation, society and country. What makes an organisation, societyand a country successful; while another fails at most time can be attributed to leadershipeffectiveness. Generally, leadership is defined as the process of influencing the activitiesof an individual or a group in efforts towards achieving certain goals. The word‘influencing’ can be substituted with other words such as transforming, empowering,driving, motivating and inspiring. Inspiration means motivation that has been internalisedand therefore comes from within the followers, as opposed to motivation that is simply atemporary response to external stimuli. Inspired followers make those goals of their own.In leadership, the leader is the key in transforming the followers. The leader is the mostimportant element in leadership. The personality, behaviour and character of the leaderare an important determinant for success of any organisation, society and country.Napoleon Bonaparte once said that he would have an army of rabbits led by a lion thanan army of lions led by a rabbit (Sheh, 2003). It is the leader who navigates and providesvision and mission for his people. In most organisation, societies and countries, thefailure or poor performance whether economically, politically or socially are not due topoor administration but poor leadership. Therefore, leadership is the life force and thespirit of an organisation that holds everything together. The wise leader uses the forcefrom within to inspire and motivate his people. Without the leader, an organisation, asociety and a country are merely collection of people (Sheh, 2003).3 Transformational leadershipAccording to Burns (1978), transformational leadership occurs when a leader engageswith a follower in such a way that both the parties are raised to higher levels ofmotivation and morality with common purpose. Transformational leaders exhibitcharisma, encourage followers to question their own way of doing things, and treatfollowers differently but equitably based on their follower needs (Bass and Avolio,1994). On the other hand, transactional leadership is a set of leadership behaviour thatemphasises the exchanges or bargains between the leader and the follower, and focuseson how the current needs of the followers can be fulfiled (Maher, 1997). Further, heasserts that the exchanges can be economical, political, or psychological in nature; theprimary characteristics that distinguishes transactional from transformational leadership.Transactional leadership behaviour includes Contingent Reward (CR), which involves aninteraction between the leader and follower based on exchange of resources andManagement by Exception (ME), in which the leaders intervene only when problemsemerge (Bass and Avolio, 1994). Most leaders engage in both transformational andtransactional leadership; however, they do so in differing amounts.
  5. 5. 108 B. Muniapan Burns (1978) defined leadership as inducing followers to pursue common purposethat represent the values and motivations of both leaders and followers. He was the firstto define the term transformational leadership. He proposed that leadership processoccurs in one of the two ways; either transactional or transformational. Transactionalleadership involves an exchange of valued things, based on current values andmotivations of both leaders and followers. Transactional leaders emphasise theclarification of tasks, work standards, and outcomes. In contrast, Burns (1978)characterised transformational leadership as a process that motivates followers byappealing to higher ideals and moral values. Transformational leaders are able to defineand articulate a vision for their organisations and their leadership style can transformtheir followers towards higher performance. In view of this, Bass (1985) developed atheory of transformational leadership based on the earlier work by Burns (1978).4 Four dimensions (4 Is) of transformational leadershipAccording to Bass and Avolio (1994), also cited in Krishnan et al. (2004),transformational leadership consists of four primary dimensions, which are referred as the4 Is. They are as follows:1 Inspirational Motivation (IM): This dimension is reflected by behaviours that provide meaning and challenge to followers’ work. It includes behaviours that articulate clear expectations and demonstrate commitment to overall organisational goals, and arouse a team spirit through enthusiasm and optimism. Krishnan (2000) asserts that inspirational leadership also involves envisioning a desired future state, making the followers to see that vision, and showing followers how to get to that state. Envisioning is translating intentions into realities by communicating that vision to others to gain their support as the right vision attracts commitment, energises people, creates meaning and establishes a standard of excellence. Vision inspires followers to transcend the outcome and getting people to commit voluntarily and completely something worthwhile.2 Idealised Influence (II): II is described as behaviour that results in follower admiration, respect and trust. It involves risk sharing on the part of leaders, a consideration of follower needs or personal needs, and ethical and moral conduct. II also refers to the leaders’ charisma. Krishnan (2000) defines charisma as a form of social authority that derives its legitimacy not from rules, positions, or traditions, but rather from faith in the leader’s exemplary character. Further, he asserts that charismatic leader is seen different from an ordinary person and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman or at least exceptional power and qualities. Only charismatic leaders, with their sense of vision and empowering behaviour could address the higher order needs of followers. Charismatic leadership is characterised by followers trust in the correctness of the leader’s belief, unquestioning acceptance of the leader, affection for the leaders, willingness to obey the leader, and emotional involvement in the vision and mission of the organisation.3 Intellectual Stimulation (IS): Leaders who demonstrate this type of transformational leadership solicit new ideas and creative solutions for problems from their followers and encourage novel approaches for performing work. Krishnan (2000) asserts IS
  6. 6. Transformational leadership style 109 arouses in the followers the awareness of the problems and how they may be solved, and stirs the imagination and generates thoughts and insights. IS provided by the leader forces the followers to rethink some of the ideas that they never questioned before.4 Individualised Consideration (IC): This is reflected by leaders listening attentively to the opinion and feedback of their followers and pay special attention to the followers’ need for achievement and growth. Krishnan (2000) refers IC as the developmental orientation of the leaders towards the followers. The transformational leader gives personal attention to the followers who seem neglected, treat each follower individually, and help each follower to get what they want. These leaders have empathy or the capacity to sense intuitively the thoughts and the feelings of others.On the other hand, Bass (1985) found that transactional leadership consists of twofactors. They are as follows:1 Contingent Reward (CR): This refers to leaders who reward followers for their effort, support and doing what needs to be done by clarifying the followers’ roles and task requirements to meet their personal goals and the organisational missions.2 Management by Exception (ME): This refers to leaders taking corrective action only when followers deviate from expectations or fail to meet the goals.A number of researches have suggested that transformational leaders, in general,motivate followers to perform at higher levels and to exert greater effort than dotransactional leaders (Bass and Avolio, 1994). Bass and Avolio (1994) also asserted thattransformational leaders motivate others to transcend self-interest so as to benefit thegroup as a whole. They also create a vision and direction for their followers around acommon mission and give them a sense of purpose. Table 1 gives comparisons between two-leadership style based on finding by Bassand Avolio (1994) also cited in Krishnan et al. (2004). Betty and Lee (1992) found that a transformational approach is likely to be moreeffective in overcoming barriers to change in organisations than a transactional style thatconcentrates on solving technical problem which neglects people and the organisationalissues. Due to the increasing environmental turbulence, every organisation, society andcountry needs transformational leaders. Bass and Avolio (1994) argued thattransformational leaders instil feelings of trust, loyalty and respect from followers.Transformational leaders will be highly in demand in the years to come; virtually, theywill be the supermen on earth, transforming the world with their soft, soothing, goldentouch (Krishnan, 1990). The skills of the transformational leadership need to becultivated and nourished, as every organisation, society and country needstransformational leadership.
  7. 7. 110 B. MuniapanTable 1 Transactional and transformational leadership: a comparisonLeadership quality Transactional approach Transformational approachTime orientation Short-term Long-termCommunication Vertical, downward MultidirectionalFocus Financial goals Customer (internal and external)Reward systems Organisational, extrinsic Personal, intrinsicSource of power Legitimate, reward Referent, expertDecision making Centralised, downward Dispersed, upwardEmployees Liability, cost AssetCoordination mechanism Rules and regulations Goals and value congruenceCompliance mechanism Directive Rational explanationAttitude towards change Avoidable, resistant, status quo Inevitable, embraceGuiding mechanism Profit Vision and valuesControl Rigid conformity Self–controlPerspective Internal ExternalTask design Compartmentalised individual Enriched, groups5 Transformational leadership exhibited by Sri Rama, son of King DasarathaThe transformational leadership had been long demonstrated by Sri Rama manythousands of years before the introduction and the development of transformationalleadership model by Burns (1978) and latter by Bass and Avolio (1994). In the first book (Bala Kanda) itself, the qualities and characteristics of Sri Rama aredescribed as accomplished, learned, powerful, noble minded, truthful, grateful, clever,wise, most beautiful, never subject to anger, who looks after the welfare of all livingentities, who protects everyone, who controls his senses, compassionate, unfailingmemory, unflinching determination, brave, heroic in battle, fully conversant in the use ofweapons, loved by all creatures, impartial to friends and foe, follower of true religiousprinciples, possessor of all opulence, patience, one who fulfils his promises and also fullin self realisation. These qualities and characteristic of Sri Rama resulted in admiration,respect, motivation and trust of all the people in Ayodhya. Krishnan (1990) citing from Tichy and Devanna (1990) who has also done extensivestudies in transformational leadership provided seven characteristics of transformationalleaders. Sri Rama demonstrated all the seven characteristics in many instances in ValmikiRamayana. The seven characteristics are as follows:1 Transformational leaders are change agents. They strive to bring the desired changes to improve their organisation, society and country. They bring changes also to the expectations, attitudes, behaviours and goals of their followers. Sri Rama changed the kingship of Kiskhinda from Vali to Sugriva. Sugriva was a transformed person after meeting Sri Rama as he became the king of Kishkinda after his brother Vali was slain by Sri Rama. Sri Rama also changed the kingship of Lanka when Vibheeshana was crowned as the king of Lanka even before his (Sri Rama) war with Ravana took place.
  8. 8. Transformational leadership style 1112 Transformational leaders are courageous people. Once they take a stand, they are brave to take risks, ensure vision and goals are achieved. They do not back out of the process of change once they have initiated it. They are fearless. No one including his guru Vasistha Muni, Bharata and all the people of Ayodhya could persuade Sri Rama to return to rule Ayodhya. Sri Rama was firm and brave to take all the risk to protect the words of his father (King Dasaratha) gave to Kaikeyi. Sri Rama was firm and the people realised that nothing would move him. Although Sri Rama’s decision made them unhappy, yet they could not help admiring Sri Rama whom nothing could tempt.3 Transformational leaders believe in people. They have a very positive approach towards all people. They believe in the innate ability and motivation of the people and empower them. They believe that there is an infinite potential in every people. Sri Rama had complete trust and believes in Sugriva to recover Sita. He (Sri Rama) killed the stronger Vali (Sugriva’s brother) and Kishkinda’s kingship was given to Sugriva. Sri Rama had a complete trust and confidence that Hanuman will be successful to find whereabouts of Sita and he (Sri Rama) gave his ring to Hanuman to be handed to Sita. Ever since the day Hanuman met him (Sri Rama) and Lakshmana on the slopes of Rishyamuka hill, Sri Rama had been greatly impressed by the wisdom of Hanuman. Sri Rama also had a great confidence and trust in his army of vanaras (monkeys) and their ability to defeat Ravana’s army and recover Sita.4 Transformational leaders are value driven. They have a set of core values, which serve as their driving force and permeate their actions. This is seen in Sri Rama, who never deviated or deviates from the words he had and has given. He (Sri Rama) even mentioned to Sita in Aranya Kanda, “I have promised to protect the rishis (sages) of Dandaka forest, I can give up my life, even you O Sita, as well as Lakshmana, but I cannot swerve from the my promise”. In Yuddha Kanda, Sri Rama also demonstrated this value when he accepted Vibheeshana, the brother of Ravana who came for protection.5 Transformational leaders are life long learners. They view mistakes not as failures but as learning experiences. They have an amazing appetite for continuous self- learning and development. In the life of Sri Rama, we see a perfect example of life of learner. In his childhood, he took lesson from Vasistha Muni, latter with Visvamitra Muni, Bharadvaja Muni, Jabali Muni, Atri Muni, Sarabhanga Muni, Agastya Muni, etc. Even when Sri Rama took over the kingship of Ayodhya, several sages including Agastya Muni came visited him. He took this as learning opportunities as much great wisdom were imparted by these sages to Sri Rama in the leadership of Ayodhya.6 Transformational leaders have the ability to deal with complexity, ambiguity and uncertainty. They have all the requirements of an increasingly complex world that demand complex problem solving ability on the part of the leaders. Sri Rama clearly exhibits this ability when he had to make the painful decision to banish Sita from Ayodhya. Sri Rama as an ideal king had to uphold the honour of his dynasty. He needed to set examples for all generation to follow. Sri Krishna in Bhagavad Gita 3.21 says to Arjuna that a leader needs to set example for their followers as whatever the leader does, the followers will follow and whatever standards or example the leader sets, people in general will follow (Muniapan, 2005). Although Sri Rama’s
  9. 9. 112 B. Muniapan decision to banish Sita may seem to be harsh, the king sometimes needs to be harsh, as the first duty of the king is to rule his people while other considerations are secondary, even if they affect personal happiness. Many thousands of years latter, Henri Fayol, a French management writer in the early 20th century developed his famous 14 principles of management. The sixth principle of management developed by Henri Fayol is the subordination of individual interest to the organisational interest. This means the organisational (society and country) interest must come first. This was what exhibited by Sri Rama, when he had to make the decision to banish Sita from Ayodhya.7 Transformational leaders are visionaries. They have broad and inspiring visions. The visions are translated into missions and goals. Sri Rama created future vision for Ayodhya and the vision was clearly communicated to the people of Ayodhya before leaving to the forest. This was also communicated to Bharata when he (Bharata) came to persuade Sri Rama to return to Ayodhya. The mission of his vanara (monkey) army was to defeat the rakshasas (demons) and to rescue Sita. To achieve this mission, several goals were set and several tasks was undertaken such as sending of the search parties, finding the whereabouts of Sita, constructing the bridge to Lanka and challenging and defeating Ravana.6 The 4 Is of transformational leadershipSri Rama had exhibited the 4 Is of transformational leadership in many instancesthroughout the Valmiki Ramayana. It is not possible to narrate every exhibition of SriRama transformational leadership, as Valmiki Ramayana is a vast ocean. However, onlyfew droplets from the ocean of Valmiki Ramayana are provided below for the purpose ofelaborations. In the Ayodhya Kanda, when Sri Rama leaves Ayodhya to go into exile following hisfather, King Dasaratha’s will, the people of Ayodhya at large are very much against theidea. They followed Sri Rama’s chariot all the way out of Ayodhya and beyond theoutskirts of the city even. They kept trailing Sumantara’s chariot, and entreating SriRama not to leave the kingdom. We see that they simply would not let their beloved SriRama leave them. So persistent were the people of Ayodhya that the Valmiki Ramayanarecords they kept following Sri Rama’s chariot in a long procession the whole day untildusk finally fell. They went as far as the River Tamasa, where Sri Rama, Sita,Lakshmana and Sumantara crossed over to the other bank and set-up camp. This is a clearexample whereby, Sri Rama exhibited one of the dimensions of transformationalleadership, i.e. II over the people of Ayodhya who were full of loyalty and adoration toSri Rama, which results them to follow him (Sri Rama) and to request Sri Rama to returnto their kingdom (Ayodhya). Later in Ayodhya Kanda when the population of Ayodhya came along with Bharata tothe forest of Chitrakuta where Sri Rama, Sita and Lakshmana had setup their camp. Thepeople met Sri Rama there and along with Bharata to persuade him (Sri Rama) to returnto the throne at Ayodhya and take up his duty as their king. Bharata told Sri Rama, that hecould not take up the burden of governance when Sri Rama, the rightful king is in exile.He had brought everyone and everything from the capital (Ayodhya). Bharata said
  10. 10. Transformational leadership style 113 “I have brought here all the women of the land; I have brought all the gurus; Vasishta is here; I have brought all the necessary items for the crowning of you as the king; the army is here; ministers are here; musicians are here. It is my intention, and the intention of all assembled here now that you must be crowned.” “Brother, I cannot go and govern Ayodhya. Nobody will obey me, as everybody wants you to come back and rule Ayodhya. All the people want you and you alone to be the king O Rama.” (laments Bharata to Sri Rama)In spite of all the request and lamentations of the people of Ayodhya that day, Sri Ramaremained firm in his resolve not to return to Ayodhya. When Bharata realised that hisattempts to persuade Sri Rama was futile, he produced a pair of padukas (woodensandals) and requested Sri Rama to place his lotus feet on them. Bharata bowed to SriRama saying “I will enthrone these sandals and they will rule the kingdom as your symbols. I will rule as your representative, living outside the city of Ayodhya for 14 years waiting for your return. To an extent Bharata was happy, as he was able to avoid the accepting the throne (Subramaniam, 2003). In this situation, Sri Rama exhibited another dimension of transformational leadership known as IS. The IS provided by the Sri Rama forced Bharata to think and rethink some of the ideas that he never questioned before. Bharata was given the awareness of the problem by Sri Rama and how they may be solved and it stirred Bharata’s imagination, thinking the unthinkable of enthroning Sri Rama sandal as the representation of Sri Rama as the king of Ayodhya”.In the beginning of Sundara Kanda (after Jambavan reminded Hanuman’s strength),Hanuman was highly motivated and prepared to take a leap to across the ocean. He toldthe other vanaras (monkeys) that he would proceed to Lanka with the speed of missile,discharged by Sri Rama to search for Sita. He (Hanuman) was highly motivated toachieve his task of recovering Sita. With the name of Sri Rama rolling on his tongue, hecrossed the ocean, passed the entire test and obstacles, landed in Lanka, searched for Sita,met with Sita, destroyed the Asokavana, met and advised Ravana, burnt Lanka and on his(Hanuman) return, narrated his exploits to the vanaras (monkeys). Sri Rama in Yuddha Kanda was extremely pleased with Hanuman’s extraordinaryaccomplishment. He praised Hanuman and said “Except for Garuda (the bird vehicle of Maha Vishnu), no one else could do what you did O Hanuman. Of all servants, the best is he who accomplishes more than the duty entrusted by his master. A mediocre servant is he who never attempts to do more that what his master orders, even though he may be capable of doing more. Finally, the worst servant is he who does not carry out the order of the master, even though qualified.” “Dear Hanuman, you have not only found Sita, but also comforted her with your words. You surveyed the entire city of Lanka, tested the strength of the great Rakshasa warriors and struck fear into the hearts of Ravana. Indeed, your service has saved my very life. Thus, it is greatly pains me that I cannot reward you properly. Since I am living in exile without proper means, all I can offer in exchange for your service is my embrace.”Saying this Sri Rama affectionately embraced Hanuman who was thrilled and motivated. Without the IM of Sri Rama, Hanuman could not have completed the impossible taskof crossing the ocean to Lanka and finding the location of Sita. Sri Rama also exhibitedIM to the vanaras (monkey) in the construction of the bridge to Lanka. Nala, the son of
  11. 11. 114 B. Muniapanengineer and architect, Visvakarma supervised the construction of the bridge. Under SriRama’s direction, millions of vanaras (monkeys) began the construction; some enteredthe forest in search of materials, tearing up great rocks, trees, and mountains. Huge stoneswere thrown into the ocean and they floated. Not only the vanaras (monkeys) and bears,but also a squirrel was seen kicking dust into the ocean in an attempt to assist Sri Rama.The construction of the bridge took five days. The construction process progressed from14 yojanas (1 yojana is 8 miles or 12 km) on the first day, 20 yojana on the second day,followed by 21, 22 and 23 on the third, fourth and fifth day (Chikhalikar, 2003). It was100 yojanas long and ten yojanas wide. Kaizen or continuous improvement conceptintroduced in the Japanese management in the 1980s were applied many thousands ofyears ago by the vanaras (monkeys) with the IM of Sri Rama. In the sixth book (Yuddha Kanda), Vibheeshana, the brother of Ravana came to SriRama seeking asylum and protection. He surrenders to Sri Rama, Sri Rama then ordersVibheeshana to wait and immediately thereafter called King Sugriva, Jambavan, Angada,Hanuman and all other important generals of Sri Rama’s army. Sri Rama then puts forththe case of Visbheeshana’s asylum and asks for their advice. With the notable exceptionof Hanuman, the majority advice to Sri Rama was against accepting Vibheeshana intotheir camp. Despite the majority’s decision, Sri Rama took the opposite course of action.He decided to grant protection to Vibheeshana under the minority advice given byHanuman who said, “O Rama, Vibheeshana has seen how able you are and how effectively you helped King Sugriva get rid off his evil brother, Vali. Vibheeshana too similarly desires to be king of Lanka and knows he can do it with your help. It is a natural ambition of the younger brother to over-throw an evil elder brother. This is why he has come here to you. I think it is therefore advisable to have him on our side in this war.”That was Hanuman’s minority and dissenting view which Sri Rama adopted and therebyignored completely the majority’s view (Madabushi, 2004). Transformational maychoose to observe democratic norms but may not always feel obliged to adhere wholly tothem. This is an example of IC as transformational leaders also provide attention tofollowers who feel neglected. Sri Rama said that it is his principle to provide shelter andprotection to any living entity from fear, even if Ravana comes for protection; he (SriRama) will give protection (SakrudEva prapannAya tavAsmiti cha yAchatE; Abhayamsarva bhutrbhyo dadAmyEtadh vratam Mama).7 ConclusionsThe concluding sargas (chapters) of Yuddha Kanda and in Uttara Kanda describe theresults or outcome of Sri Rama’s transformational leadership. Vikasa (2000) describedleadership of Ayodhya, during Sri Rama’s reign. The forests, the rivers, the hills and themountains, the states, the seven islands and the seven seas were all favourable insupplying the necessities of life for all living beings. All bodily and mental suffering,disease, old age, bereavement, lamentation, distress, fear and fatigue were completelyabsent. There were no widows to lament the loss of their husbands; nor any diseases orthieves. Indeed, even wild animals gave up their natural enmity and thus did not kill eachother. All citizens were fully righteous, always looking towards Sri Rama as their lordand master. Beyond that they saw Sri Rama as their life and soul. All talk centered
  12. 12. Transformational leadership style 115around Sri Rama. Thus, the entire Ayodhya appeared as if transformed into Vaikunta(place without anxieties). The author hopes that the above lessons in leadership by SriRama will guide and inspire the leaders not only in the Indian context, but alsouniversally.ReferencesBass, B.M. (1985) Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectation. New York, NY: Free Press.Bass, B.M. and Avolio, B.J. (1994) Improving Organizational Effectiveness Through Transformational Leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Betty, C. and Lee, G. (1992) ‘Leadership among middle managers: an exploratory investigation in the context of technological change’, Human Relations, Vol. 45, pp.957–89.Burns, J.M. (1978) Leadership. New York, NY: Harper and Row.Chikhalikar, S. (2003) Observations about Ramayana War, Veda, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, Prague. Available at: http://www.veda.harekrsna.cz/encyclopedia/sastras-studies3.htm.Krishnan, V.R. (1990) Transformational Leadership and Vedanta Philosophy, Economics Times, 11th January (p.7), Mumbai. Available at: http://www.geocities.com/rkvenkat/1990et.html.Krishnan, V.R. (2000) ‘Training programs on leadership: do they really makes a difference?’, Paper presented in the Proceedings of the Seminar on ‘Role of HR: A New Agenda’, September 2000, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. Available at: http://www.geocities.com/rkvenkat/.Krishnan, A., Muniapan, B., Lew, T.Y. and Kong, E.E.F. (2004) Exploring the Extent of Transformational Leadership in the Context of Miri Entrepreneurs, Paper Presented at ASEMAL 4 Conference on the 13–15 December 2004 in Penang.Madabushi, K.S. (2004) Divine Despot: Is God a Despot or Democrat, Tiruvenkatam Discussion Group. Available at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tiruvenkatam/files/.Maher, K.J. (1997) Gender – Related Stereotypes of Transformational and Transactional Leadership (online). Available at: http://202.185.23.3:2062/pqdweb?Did=000000017178587& Fmt=4&Deli=1&Mtd=1&1.Muniapan, B. (2005) The Philosophy of Bhagavad Gita and its Relevance to Human Resource Development in the 21st Century. Paper Presented at SSEASR Conference held on 27–30 January 2005 in New Delhi, India.Rao, D.H. and Murthy, K.M.K. (2003) Valmiki Ramayana (online). Available at: http:// www.valmikiramayan.net.Robbins, S.P. (2003) Organizational Behavior (10th edn.). Sydney: Prentice Hall.Rosen, J.S. (2002) The Hidden Glory of India. Los Angeles, CA Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.Sharma, O.P. (2002) Tulsi Ramayan In Action: Intellectual Renewal for Role Effectiveness. New Delhi, India: University Book House.Sheh, S.W. (2003) Chinese Leadership: Moving from Classical to Contemporary. Singapore: Times Edition.Sivananda, S. (1996) Beauties of Ramayana. Himalayas, India: The Divine Life Society.Subramaniam, K. (2003) Ramayana (8th ed.). Mumbai, India: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.Sundaram, P.S. (2002) The Kamba Ramayana. New Delhi, India: Penguin Books.Tapasyananda, S. (1991) Sundara Kandam of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana. Madras, India: Sri Ramakrishna Math.Tichy, N.M. and Devanna, M.A. (1990) The Transformational Leader. New York: Wiley.Vikasa, S. (2002) Ramayana. Baroda, India: ISKCON.

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