Episode # 259 – A leader should possess “EMPATHY” towards people – Something that is lacking today???

In the previous episode, we had witnessed Sage Naarada giving the final pieces of advice to Yudishtra wherein he was giving some tips for effective financial management. He had explained how a king / leader should be smart enough while investing in properties, bonds, etc., which is applicable even in today’s scenario as well. The holistic approach towards investments is that a minimal amount of investment should yield maximum returns. Moreover, Sage Naarada explains that whatever investments the leader makes, they should be of full benefit to the people of the country, and not just the leader personally. This is where we see a gap in today’s scenario – We pay enormous amounts of taxes, but sadly without any accountability on any front. For the amount of taxes that we pay, we as people are entitled for high quality medical treatments in government hospitals, high quality education in government schools, excellent infrastructure in terms of transportation and other sectors, etc. – But at the end of the day, the question is – Do we really get to enjoy all of this for the exorbitant amounts of direct and indirect taxes that we pay! The pathetic plight in today’s scenario is that we still struggle with poor roads, medical treatments being expensive and beyond reach of the common man, zero quality education in government schools, etc. Then the question that arises in the minds of the people is why at all do we even pay taxes! Where is our money going? The simple answer in today’s context is that, this money goes into the hands of crooked politicians who roam around in luxury cars and enjoy exorbitant amounts of benefits, which should have otherwise gone into the hands of the common man! 

This is exactly what Sage Naarada is advising Yudishtra not to do. Whatever taxes that are being collected from the public, should entirely be spent only on the benefit of the people and not on scoring some personal brownie points. This is the prime difference between a leader being selfless and dedicated, as against a leader being selfish and corrupt. I really hope the message is loud and clear for everyone! Moving on further to the next point, Sage Naarada asks Yudishtra thus, “Oh Yudishtra! Are you taking care of your servants, workers, employee’s, etc. in such a way that you understand their problems and concerns? Are you attending to their grievances regularly and addressing them in the appropriate ways?” This is another extremely important point to be noted by all leaders – A leader can be deemed to be successful only if he / she has this unique quality called “Empathy”. In modern day management, we define “Empathy” as a quality wherein we put ourselves in another person’s shoes and try to understand his / her problems or grievances. 

Are we having this quality of “Empathy” today? In many cases, the answer is a stinging “No”! Most of the times, leaders become selfish and their only focus is on profits and not on people! This is the main reason why employee’s quit in today’s organizations. A leader should realize that it is the people ultimately who run the organization and not the process or machines. Hence, people’s grievances should be looked into as a paramount parameter of importance. Only if people are happy, will the organization be able to grow and flourish. Once people are taken care of, profits would start accumulating automatically. There are enormous amounts of research in the present day which correlates with this point – An organization with happy people creates a happy and a vibrant work environment, which in turn results in increased productivity, which in turn increases the profitability of the organization. 

This is not only applicable to businesses, but also for governments as well. As I had mentioned earlier as well, governments’ only job is not to keep collecting taxes. The government should understand when and how to collect taxes from people and how much should be collected as well. At a time when the economy is slowing down due to the after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, at a time when many people across India have lost their jobs and livelihoods because of the lockdowns, at a time when people’s disposable incomes are at a record low across many sectors of the industry, is it fair on the government to collect exorbitant amounts of taxes on petrol and diesel at this crunch situation? This is where the problem is – Such senseless anti-people measures are being imposed by the government of the day because of the fact that the government machinery lacks empathy. As crooked politicians who are filthy rich run the government, there is no way that they would realize the sufferings of those in need. This is where the disconnect is. These politicians think that by giving “freebies” (Free ration, free electricity, free gas, etc.), they can keep winning elections and at the backdoor, loot the people in terms of taxes. Such is the disheartening and pathetic plight of India today. Of course, for certain readers this might be a hard pill to chew, but irrespective of whether we like it or not, this is the mess that we are in. 

This is exactly what Sage Naarada is explaining here – As a leader, one should possess empathy upon his / her people by understanding their needs, problems, grievances, etc. and should take them along in a way that their problems are addressed. So for today, let us understand this point very clearly and we shall move on with the next point in the next episode! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Published by Dr. Jeayaram

Holds a PhD in Management Psychology from Universite Paris Saclay, Paris, France. Also an Asst. Professor of Human Resources management at Bharatidhasan Institute of Management (BIM) Trichy, India A professional South Indian classical musician (singer) performing concerts. Through this blog, I'm trying to bring out the richness of Indian culture & values and I request your support and feedbacks in making this humble effort a success!!

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