Thursday, August 21, 2014



Leadership Mantra

“As a leader, you must ensure that whatever instructions you give and all the orders you pass are properly obeyed,” a renowned Management Guru pontificated to his audience at the leadership training workshop he was conducting for policemen.

The eager beaver trainees listened in rapt attention as the Management Guru thundered, “Enforcement of orders – that’s the key to effective leadership – you must be able to enforce all orders and ensure compliance of all instructions and rules by the public.”

At the end of the training, a wizened policeman came up to the Management Guru and said, “Sir, all this is fine in theory, but it does not work in practice. It is easy to give lectures but practical implementation is a different matter altogether.”

“What do you mean?” the Guru asked.

“From where I come, it is impossible to make anyone obey orders. There is just no discipline in that place – the people out there just do not obey instructions. They are most unmanageable and disobedient,” the policeman said.

“From where do you come?”

“Pune,” the policeman said.

“Okay. I am coming to Pune next week. We will discuss there,” the Guru said.

A few days later, the policeman took the Management Guru on a tour of Pune City.

“See,” the policeman said pointing towards a NO PARKING sign, “look at the number of vehicles parked in the “No Parking” Zone. We keep trying to educate everyone, we fine defaulters, we tow away wrongly parked vehicles – but it is of no use. No one seems to be bothered about obeying rules, so we too have stopped bothering about it.”

The Policeman took the Management Guru to a garden park. 

There was a sign DO NOT PLUCK FLOWERS 

But there was a women plucking flowers right next to the signpost.  

DO NOT LITTER THE LAWN a signboard said.

But people were throwing all sorts of waste, including paper plates and dumping remains of their food on the lawn 

Of course, no one bothered about the DO NOT EAT FOOD IN THE GARDEN notice too and they ate food sitting on the lawns of the garden.

It was a similar situation everywhere. 

Every instruction was ignored. 

People were spitting despite DO NOT SPIT signs.

People were driving the wrong way into one-way streets ignoring NO ENTRY traffic signs.

Many persons were seen merrily smoking cigarettes in NO SMOKING areas.

The traffic on the roads was totally chaotic as drivers jumped traffic signals and cared two hoots about following traffic rules.

It was impossible to walk on the pavement due to encroachments.

The policeman was right – the people of this town just did not obey any instructions and nobody seemed to be bothered about rules and regulations.

“So,” the policeman said gleefully to the Guru, “what do have to say now?”

“Come to the park in the evening at six o’clock,” the Guru told the policeman, “I will show you how to get these people to obey orders.”

“Really?” said the disbelieving policeman, “okay I’ll come, and I’ll bring my bosses too. We will all like to see how you are going to achieve this miracle – making people of Pune obey instructions, just imagine?”

In the evening a posse of senior cops and the policeman reached the park.

They were bewildered at what they saw.

On the lawns of the garden, the Management Guru had put up a big signboard.

On this signboard was boldly written


A number of people were looking at the notice with amusement.

Some stood there staring at the notice and laughing.

Others looked at the notice and then walked away smiling. 

But no one was eating stones.

“See,” the triumphant Guru said to the flabbergasted policeman, “Do you see anyone disobeying this order? Do you see even a single person eating stones?”

It was true – the order DO NOT EAT STONES was being obeyed – no one was eating stones.

Before the dumbfounded policeman could say anything, the Guru said:

“Remember this leadership mantra: Willing obedience is always better than forced obedience.”

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This story is a work of fiction. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

I used to tell this leadership mantra to my students long ago and have also posted it in my blog often. Here is a link to my earlier post:

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