Article (July-2017)


I was once asked if I was Draupadi or Arjun in the Corporate Mahabharata

Anyuta Dhir

Designation : -   Director - Human Resources

Organization : -  Veolia India, New Delhi


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Over the trajectory of my career span and having worked across multiple industries, my thought on women leadership is a question to the self?

Draupadi or Arjun?

Why Draupadi? - What does it take to think from Draupadi's perspective? - How would she look at the corporate world?

1. Her conviction and take on Kauravas

  • Having a Clarity of Vision
  • Knowing where one wants to go with his/her career objectives and how to get there.
  • A leader with a vision sees clarity and enables to bring out the best in his/her environment and teams, having a fair understanding of each person's best ability.
  • With this clarity brought on the table by the leader, tasks and roles fall into focus and the team becomes one unit. Each member works with precision. The leader brings out the best talent in each person. Each person's own unique skill sets can be utilized to bring the vision into reality.

2. Draupadi had the advantage of the Pandavas and she put it to good use by bringing out the best of each one's strengths

  • Knowing the path to achieving objectives
  • At times we get so focused on the vision that we forget how to build a sturdy road map so that our path has the strength to sustain the test of time.
  • A path has to be free of obstacles and roadblocks. One of those roadblocks is that everything cannot be done all at once.
  • Time needs to be invested, with a focus on puttingthe right people in the right jobs and building the objective with a clear purpose.
  • Success comes when it is clear on how people are valued versus the purpose/objective.

3. When Draupadi lost her own children in the Battlefield

  • Overcoming personal bias or be ready to bear the repercussions/ taking responsibility
  • Reactions made under stress, having negative characteristics lead to errors in judgment which may be fatal to a career and many a time to an organization.
  • Introspection or knowing the self is the name of the game
  • Questions to ask the self while introspecting may be:
  • What leads you to an upset and what do you do?
  • What behaviors in upsetting circums-tances won't serve you well?
  • What will your environment i.e. seniors, peers, juniors, and bosses say about your act?
  • Do you see a pattern in your behavior?
  • Have you in anyway contributed to the failure?
  • Do a feedback session with your direct reports asking them to share their opinion with brutal honesty, anonymously and ensuring their confidentiality - Nothing will be held against them. Questions to askothers may be:
  • Do you feel driven nuts by me?
  • Do I force you to work around me rather than with me?
  • When under stress, do u see me doing counter-productive things?
  • Consider having a coach or a mentor or a trusted confident/adviser
  • To get the most value from talking with someone, you must have complete trust in the process and the person.
  • A willingness to expose vulnerabilities to go beyond the usual self-defense mechanisms.
  • Just knowing that these are common factors in all humans and knowing them helps in overcoming them.
  • And that it's smart to admit and examine personal flaws rather than being flighty and taking the escape route.

4. When Draupadi took a stand on not tying her hair until it was smeared with Duryodhana's blood

  • Ability to take a stand for self
  • Understanding that respect is not a factor that accounts for acceptance of the world but knowing that it's a space for SELF to be in with a pertinent appreciation of self-worth valuing it unconditionally
  • Knowing how to be assertive without being aggressive or passive
  • Overcoming self-created limits due to fear: by Operating from Integrity and Authenticity
  • Treating others like you want to be treated
  • Un-limiting the limitless which gets limited due to self-created limits.

Why Arjun? What it takes to being Arjun

1. Arjun's hold on the skill of archery & his response to Dronacharya at the Gurukul, as only seeing the bird's eye as the goal

  • Self-Sustenance and being self-reliant
  • Integrity & commitment not dependent on external factors,
  • Internalizing the ability to strengthen the self, irrespective of the eventualities
  • Being high on authenticity and honoring one's own words
  • Should mistakes be made, having the courage to own them up and acknowledge effects while providing mitigation solutions to overcome the same.

2. Arjun being a part of the Pandavas  who were the heir to the throne

  • Leading by Example
  • Increases sense of ownership with transparency and increased trust index
  • Also work on keeping personal views out of workplace with a focus on the business objective, while working one with People

3. Arjun'sawakening to Self-awareness and spiritual elevation after listening to the song of Gita by the Lord Almighty himself

  • Self-Awareness
  • Believe in creating and implementing new possibilities with integrity and strong relationships.
  • Being aware that opportunity knocks once and leave no stone unturned in the course, hence make all possible attempts towards successful fruition while there is still time.
  • While appreciating that the world is the way the world is, yet have the ability to be a supersonic self-guided missile to meet the set target/goal.

4. Arjun being able to resurrect this will and grit to fight the war of righteousness/Dharma

  • Ability to surrender, being a part of the bigger picture
  • Knowing that the universe has a plan
  • Having faith in universal energies and synergies,
  • Having acceptance of what is presented upfront
  • Knowing how to use internal capabilities to work for it and to further empower the purpose, situation, objective, target or goal

5. Arjun's mindset while at war

  • Ability to operate from Un-attachment and not detachment
  • Where detachment is seen as first getting attached and then detach.
  • Whereas unattached is not to get attached in the first place. For example; Wi-Fi offering full support yet no strings.
  • However, being unattached yet motivated, and look at any given situation from these three lenses - startegic, tactical and operational.

And at the end seeing that the only constant is changewhile the world will remainthus and being present to that this too shall pass.

This is yet another thought provoking story I derive inspiration from, probably to be elaborated upon another time another day.

In a nutshell, either as Draupadi or Arjun, keeping an unattached frame of mind, having faith and confidence in my professional skills and strengths, I have been able to establish myself in the corporate for two decades strengthening ties with one and all.

About the Author

Anyuta Dhir is HR Director and OD Intervention Specialist with an experience of over 19 years across US, UK, France & APAC. She has consulted leading global companies in diverse domains - Energy & Environment, FMCG, Retail Healthcare & IT/ ITES.

Anyuta leads Business Transformation/Change Management to create work environments that attract and retain top-notch talent. She focuses on implementing best practices to build teams that bring increased productivity and profits to the organization.

Her vision is to see HR playing the role of an Enabler to enhance the Humanity aspect in the society where businesses create a Win-Win for their Purpose, People and the Planet.

She also holds a specialization in HRM from IIM, Lucknow, and a Certification in Life Coaching from International Coaching Federation.