At times we wonder, “Am I a leader or a boss?”
The answer is simple: we all perceive ourselves to be a leader. No one likes to be a boss who is detested by their subordinates. There’s nothing wrong with assuming we are leaders, provided we work towards attaining the qualities of a true leader.
While reading Mahabharta, we may wonder “What gave Yudhishtra, the right to gamble away his kingdom?” As a leader should you protect your team or trample them as if you own them? When Yudhishtra gambled and lost his kingdom, he was asked to put one of his brothers on stake, he chose the weakest one -Nakula. He didn’t choose Arjuna or Bheem. He let the weakest suffer.
At that time, Yudhishtra was king of a small kingdom, but he did not display the characteristics of a king. He had to endure misery for thirteen years, even Lord Krishna could not help. There are several tales of his lessons in humility and patience during this time.
In one story, the thirsty Pandavas were desperately looking for water. Upon reaching a pond, a heron warned them and said they can only drink water if they answer a few questions. One by one they drank water ignoring the warning, all of them died. Yudhishtra was the only one who lived. When he reached the pond, he paused, answered questions and drank water. He displayed a significant shift in attitude; Earlier, an impulsive person who gambled away his kingdom, he was now ready to pause, think and answer the question. He displayed an important shift in his attitude, he was more patient and prudent.
The Heron rewarded him by allowing him to revive one of the brothers, Yudhishtra asked for the weakest one Nakula. Formerly, he had gambled away Nakula considering him the weakest but now he was protecting the weakest. His father had two wives and he was the surviving son of one and he asked for Nakula to lessen the pain of his step mother, so one son of each mother survives. Thus lessening his step mother’s pain. Yudhistra has now become the protector and understood that he exists to help the helpless. He became a protector and a mentor. His prudence and compassion was rewarded and the heron brought all his brothers back to life.
The story teaches some important aspects of a true leader. He needs to practice patience, become more prudent, not impulsive. Moreover, he needs to have a larger focus on the overall well-being of the team and his organization, he has to become a mentor, protector and help his team.