Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lessons the Hindu King taught us

We can always learn from history and lessons in leadership come from many places. I learned a leadership lesson from a Hindu King yesterday at the Amber Fort in Jaipur

Shiv Partap, our tour guide, told us the story of Raja Man Singh and his bodyguard. Raga Man Singh slept outside each night and had a jug of water by him because it was so hot. He was accompanied only by his bodyguard. One morning he woke up and found that half of his water was gone. He knew only his bodyguard had been there, but said nothing.

He went to court in the morning as usual and asked if there was a party the night before. There had been one so he asked for the guest list to see if his guard was on the list. His guard was. Raja Man Sing then asked who the person was who threw the party. Raja Man Singh went to the host and asked what grocer he got the food from. Raja Man Singh then put the grocer in jail.

Raja Man Singh knew his guard was very loyal to him; nothing would cause the guard to leave his post in the middle of the night. The guard was so loyal Raja Man Singh knew only a great thirst would cause the guard to drink his water.

Raja Man Singh deduced the only thing that could make his guard so thirsty was if the ghee at the party had been mixed with animal fat. The grocer was put in jail because he sold impure ghee to the host of the party.

Raja Man Singh handled the issue with Root Cause Analysis. The problem was not with the loyalty of the guard, but the loyalty of the grocer who sold impure ghee. By investigating and finding the true cause of the issue – where the problem originated.

It is important to know the loyalties of your staff. But more importantly, you need to trust the loyalty of your staff. If Raja Man Singh did not trust that his guard would only drink his water for an important reason, the grocer would have gone unpunished and would have continued to sell impure ghee.

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