Ramans of Work place – Not a Myth!

Was watching a lovely Malayalam movie of early 90’s – Bharatham. An amazing movie that many of us can connect. What was appreciable is not just the storyline but wonderful portrayal of their roles by Nedumudi Venu (Raman) and Mohanlal (as Gopi that won him the National Award for Best Actor). A classical music aficionado that I am, liberal sprinkling of lot of lovely Carnatic based songs  was a bonus – Dr Yesudas won the National Best Male Playback Singer for the song Ramakadha Gaanalayam (youtube link below, for those who love Carnatic vocal music)

Here we go with the plot of the movie. Cutting out the Masala part of the storyline…

Gopi is a member of family with carnatic music heritage and himself is a good singer. Raman who is also an excellent singer, is Gopi’s elder brother, guru and role model.

Raman reigns in the family and in the society with his music. But he turns into alcoholic. Despite several attempts by family members to make him give up the habit and several failed assurances to his family members, he is unable to give up the habit.

Once Raman reaches for a concert in an inebriated state and Gopi is forced to take over. He is an instant hit with the masses. This has been depicted quite symbolically during the song Sree Vinayagam. Gopi’s music, which was hidden behind his brother’s charisma now flows out in full strength.

Taking this as an insult, Raman starts hating his brother and strives hard to recover from alcoholism.

Further Raman’s morale is shattered when organizers of the Tyagaraja Aaradhana select his brother over him to perform. This makes Raman angry.

So Gopi decides to stop singing… Noooo… Wait….. Changing the plot to the real world situation….

Today, no Professional worth his salt will stop singing.  Narrating a real life experience from a Manufacturing Company (not exact words, but this part could have been published elsewhere as a case study). 

The HR Manager (HRM) and his Recruiting Executive (RE) who joined him recently hit off very well. It was an enviable Professional relationship. During initial days on the job RE filled several number of jobs that had been open for quite a long time. For the RE, it was not a big task to do because there was no recruiting process at all. There was good traction in the organization and recruitment consultant engagement & hiring agencies fees dropped to all time low.

The Hitch: The HRM was unable to celebrate these achievements – this despite the entire organization acknowledging that the credit is ideally HRM’s whose support to RE (freedom to conceptualize and implement processes) was instrumental in this success.  But over a period of time, forget acknowledgement, HRM even felt threatened and looked all possible ways to kill enthusiasm and throttle the RE – RE cannot be faulted because she was expressly clear on what she wanted in her career and would have gone crazy doing all things a HRM is expected to do. She simply enjoyed what she was doing. Hell No! HRM would have none of it.

RE then seeks professional advise from another senior who advises her to have a discussion on the roadmap of what and how she wants to achieve the goal of recruitment. In case he agrees, then jointly present it to the leadership team so that there is already a buy-in. If he doesn’t agree always seek his advise on why it was not Ok and suggest improvement.

RE ponders this over and decides that if he wants her out and disagreement is for sake of disagreement, does it really make sense to to stay back with this unpleasantness?  There seem to be an obvious thought and energy mismatch. The goal is not to keep the job, but to shift the energy if possible,  If not, to move on and keep moving fast down your path.

Who knows what is waiting after this adventure? It couldn’t get worse anyway. When you are in the depth, only way is up!

The orginal story doesn’t matter any more, but reproducing the same to bring this to a closure (I suggest watching the movie is a better options – I promise it is worth your time 🙂 The plot continues…..

So Gopi decides to stop singing. But on hearing this Raman understands his mistake and asks Gopi to sing at Tyagaraja Aaradhana.

Ramanathan attends his brother’s concert in a drunken state but is able to appreciate his brother’s talent. With a longing to get rid of the alcoholism and perform a concert with his brother, he sets on a pilgrimage, but was never to return. Gopi, getting to know that Raman is killed in an accident, is forced to conceal this truth because of their vocally disabled sister’s marriage. Gopi gets lot of moral support with Devi, who also knows about the truth. Gopi’s trauma reaches penultimate when his family comes to know about Raman’s death and that Gopi was concealing it. Everything ends fine when the family understands his intentions.

Beware of Ramanathans – they are the ones who are the lurking dangers of any organization. Faster they are identified, lesser talents are lost!

If you don’t recognize and acknowledge a deserving person, someone else from another company will. And then asking them to stay back with promises never works (from Linked In)

Signing off with another song from the same movie – Raghuvamshapathe….


Love or Hate the Act, not Actor

Starting with an excerpt from “About” section of this site.  Easier said than done! Basic premise is that no one is bad, only their acts are.

Love or hate what I write or do, please don’t love or hate me. In short, love/hate Sureshisms and not Suresh.


I “have tried to imbibe this philosophy in my career of nearly 29 years, of which it was Team Lead or above after the first 4 years which has saved me a lot of blushes, retain exceptional talent and also get along with people better or atleast as much as any of my colleagues could. A subordinate making a blunder is never damned (or allowed to be damned by his peers or superiors) whatever the cost and (s)he was defended & protected to the core (Unless it was an act against principles of ethics and integrity). It is not very difficult. List down whatever good this employee has contributed and you have an answer, why “a” blunder however costly it may seem, should not be the reason to dump the person into the cellar.

“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”
― Dale Carnegie


Just look around, everyone seem to be fed on staple diet of Condemnation, which is being relished too and you see only bad (Work, Politics, Religion, Media). What does it change? Zilch! Whereas compassion and understanding, a tinge of positivity goes miles to change things and transforms the unchangeable.

My eternal favourite Sloka on Leadership from Bhagavad Gita 3:21

yad yad acarati sresthas; tat tad evetaro janah |
sa yat pramanam kurute; lokas tad anuvartate ||

Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.

Take away: A leader who does not lead by example is not a leader at all. Not about preaching, it is about doing. What you do, is emulated – not what you talk

And another thing I picked up along the journey is Leadership is not about Power, it is about Empowerment. Else you remain a Manager or the dreaded 4-lettered word “BOSS”

Signing off with a quote about the fakes, I love (Author Unknown)

“Whenever they are condemning weaves or breast implants, some people speak so passionately that their false teeth almost fall out.”

Leading from Behind

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥ २-४७
Karmanyevadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani|| 2:47
Thus says Bhagavad Gita in the Chapter 2 (Karma Yoga). It broadly translates to “You have the right to work only but never to its fruits. Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction” As in any of our scriptural texts, the purport goes far beyond the literal translation.
Most of us work for a material result and it is this result that motivates us to work. For instance, if every student study for the sake of marks, they become obsessive and selective in their study. The knowledge or learning thus becomes a lop-sided, short-lived gain. They lose out on long term gains like insight into and understanding of the subject. In fact healthy study habit itself is a casualty. By healthy study habit, I mean that which signify the ability to learn and apply.  What this in effect does is to constrain oneself into boxing their belief that all events in life is defined in terms of Success or Failure, which defeats the larger purpose of life.
Another example: Consider a teacher working in a school, with her Principal watching over her shoulders. More often than not they end up demonstrating their sincerity and diligence to the Principal and not focused on helping the students learn. As the world often does, Principal becomes pleased and will rate them high even if the teacher is not successful in their primary duty of facilitating learning.
As Henry Ford said, “Measure of Quality is what we do when no one is watching” Unfortunately, many work for the approval of the world and not for our own approval
Another purport, though the verse above says, that there should be no attachment to inaction too. Wrong action many times results in disaster. Some time we need to take a call on detaching from work itself. We become obsessed with our own creations at work. Even when we know we had gone wrong, we persist for a bit more to make it a success, many a times knowing well that it wouldn’t work.
Pic Courtesy: Web: Shallow Waterless Well and Not giving up

Take the case of this well digger.  He continues to dig a well deeper and deeper just because he started it, knowing well after a while that it is not going to yield any water. This despite experts with technologically advanced Water table Prospecting tools, sounding out to dig one well at a particular spot. Ego did not permit him to abandon and move towards that spot.

Pic Courtesy: Web: Digging deeper and deeper
It is not too difficult to find such well diggers at work. Lack of an objective feedback system insulate many from determining the pitfalls of a designed intervention. In such cases, detachment from work and looking at it objectively would help us realize the futility of our effort, retrace the steps and pursue more effective path.
In reply to a question “As a person taking up an assignment at the corporate level, how can I be effective as a leader” during one of the Satsangs in the Art of Living Ashram many many years ago, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Improve your communication skills. This involves a great deal of listening and detachment from the situation (rising above the situation). This is much needed for anyone in corporate as your grown. A good Manager cannot afford to be impulsive, short tempered, incommunicable, unfriendly and lacking in confidence. In the presence of these things one will not be able to do business properly.
Remember one thing, the manager of the Universe is not so obvious. The one who manages this universe does not make it so obvious that he is doing it; or that He is in control.
Similarly, manage from behind. Leading from behind is the best. When you want to lead a project you should not emphasize your leadership too much. You should do it from behind.
There is a saying in Sanskrit, Paroksha Priyahi Vai Devaha, which means that the Gods like to do things indirectly and not so obviously.  A person feels, ‘I am doing it’, but it is the Gods who make them do it. So they give the people the joy of feeling that they are doing it, but in reality, it is the Divine energy that does it in a subtle manner, which is not so obvious.
Satsang in The Art of Living Ashram
By the way, it was “Yours Truly” who posed the question and received the answer.
Good Leadership should be like the string in a garland – invisible to the outside world, but in its absence, the flowers fall apart
Further read: