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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pratibha & Leadership

In the Indian context, a leader is always presupposed by the lead, as  Pratibhasali—'a-man-of-Genius', all because of their belief that leadership is ‘divine-affirmed’. According to the Yagasutra aphorism, Pratibha is “the power of knowing things independently of the stimulation of senses by the corresponding external objects and even without learning of them from the talk about them by one who knows.” Etymologically Pratibha means ‘shines to’— its shining depends upon the mind. That is the reason why some ancestors even prefer to refer Pratibha as the mind’s eye that enables the possessor to create things ever new.

Pratibhasali leaders are known to bring in the whole soul of man into activity and work on the cognitive, conative, and the affective. They mostly work on intuitions. Pratibha leads to manifestation of ‘imagination’—the primary living power of all human perception and  finite ability to create eternally. It is the very ‘rubric’ of creation—of vision and wealth for the organization. It is the living power that enables leader to produce ‘vision’ that ultimately shapes the spirit of organization. In other words, it is  the ‘imagination’ that “brings forth things unknown earlier”, gives it a shape, charts a means to achieve and make it earthly.  Imagination is held by many as the “prime agent of all human perception” and that which keeps “eternal acts of creation” alive.

To make Pratibha explicitly clear in the context of ‘Leadership’, it makes great sense to borrow what Wordsworth once said to describe a Poet’s essential trait of “imagination”:  “Absolute power / And clearest insight, amplitude of mind / And reason in her most exalted mood”. Indeed, like a poet, a leader is known for “seeing the invisible” and by choosing right words he explains it to team members, so that they could perceive it as a ‘cause’ worth pursuing. This faculty of ‘imagination’, as I.A. Richards[1] observed, can be used by a leader in various senses: “producing visual images, figurative language, sympathetic reproduction of another’s emotional states, inventiveness, scientific imagination and to reconcile opposites and unite disparate things.”

Pratibha, thus, simply underlines its creative expertise. Steve Jobs, cofounder and the CEO of Apple Computer, is a classic example for displaying such “scientific imagination.” He visualized the potential of the technology invented by the Xerox Company’s scientists for assembling the world’s first graphical user interface, to make the personal computer, and did produce Macintosh Computer for sale in the market.  Now the question is, how is it that the original inventors of the technology – the great scientists of Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Centrefailed to recognize its potential while Jobs was excited about it and finally converted into a salable product? The answer is simple: ‘mindset’. Mindset of Xerox researchers has barred them from seeing beyond themselves while it is the “perceptive, and intuitive mindset” of Jobs that made him to sense its future prospects. Simply put, it is the ability of Jobs to “see the invisible” that made him to see the hidden profits in the technology invented by Xerox scientists – and that is what is called ‘Pratibha’.
People endowed with pratibha are thus capable of visualizing things much before others can visualize and with the kind of confidence they have had on themselves, they pursue it till they reached the goal. Simultaneously, they also make their followers commit their energies for its pursuit. The basic tenets of their behaviour are what Gita prescribed as the penance of mind: “Security of mind, beneficence, silence, self-control and purity of heart”. They, as leaders, strongly believe in the nobility of character and conscious of the fact: “one whose name is besmirched is ‘defaced and deflowered’.” The earthly crowns do not taint them, for leadership to them is “trust faithfully to be accounted for” a responsibility to be discharged with devotion. They respect the ‘leadership’ trusted to them: Leadership, for them, “is a harder test of virtue”.  So only, they keep saying: “Yet I will try the last”, and they keep doing that because they are pratibhasali leaders.

It is of course, true that the term Pratibha is often used in mystical, metaphysical, religious, aesthetical and psychological context in different meanings. But what is most common amongst this tribe is that they radiate a high spirit of dama or self-restraint, dana or self-sacrifice and daya or compassion as the basic drivers that enables them to free themselves from the sway of craving, greed and anger. And that is indeed what even Buddha commended: we should put out our heart’s monstrous fires of infatuation, greed and resentment. It is because of these traits that they display in their behavior, the followers often not only visualize their leaders to be pratibha shali but also respect them as they love to be in the company of such great personalities.

It is generally believed that Pratibha is inherent in every sentient being, though in different proportions. But in whatever proportions it may present, as Shelly said, Pratibha, as a fading coal needs to be awakened to transitory brightness by an inconstant wind preferably in the form of teaching and initiation by a senior. For instance, whenever one is driven by “selfishness”, which is ever hungry and deficit-drivenvyavaharika vyaktitwa (the lower self or ‘un-ripe ego’), even a person endowed with Pratibha like Vivekananda is certain to lapse into errors. Therefore the beginning of leadership is with oneself and that’s why a leader has to consciously and constantly make an attempt to keep his inherited Pratibha always awake, so that he can become a ‘wisdom leader’.

It is such ardent practice alone can enhance a leader’s Pratibha and thereby his influence on his followers. Its possession simply makes a leader not only great but also good in his craft of leadership. Exhibition of a leader’s  pratibha is so infectious that it makes everybody in the organization a shade better than what they were earlier. In the contemporary world of corporate management, Jack Welch’s theory of leadership comes close to what PratibhaSali leaders are known to exhibit in their behavior.

Jack is known to practice “4E” theory of leadership that stands for a leader’s levels of energy, energizing ability, edge to take courageous decisions, and finally execute the decisions takenall with a “P”passion. Jack Welch, by displaying a ‘leadership’ that exhibited these traits, became a charismatic leader. According to many of the Wall Street Analysts, he became a magnetic personality all because he was a self-made executivemanaged to overcome several handicaps such as his stuttering, his lower middle-class background, etc. It is this Pratibha that he nurtured with zeal that enabled him to make GE one of the most respected corporates in the world and in the process he himself became a role model for many corporate executives.

The success of Welch amply testifies how important Pratibha subjective basis of the objective consciousness that differentiates the meaning of the ‘whole’ from that of the ‘individual constituent’s’ meaning - is for leaders to achieve organizational growth with all inclusiveness..

[1] I.A. Richards – The Principles of Literary Criticism.

Image, courtesy: bearlysaneaust.blogspo 


Dr.A.Jagadeesh said...

Excellent story on Prathibha.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

karpuramanjari said...

Thanks a lot Dr. Jagadeesh garu...

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