Academic journal article Business Renaissance Quarterly

THE ARYA(i) LEADER: A VRIO(ii) for Competitive Advantage

Academic journal article Business Renaissance Quarterly

THE ARYA(i) LEADER: A VRIO(ii) for Competitive Advantage

Article excerpt


Leadership ethics failure in the last two decades, provide an opportunity to re-examine corporate leadership challenges of the 21st century. We know that corporate leaders today serve in environments that are volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous-known as VUCA(iii) in military organizations. This paper argues that in this fast-moving VUCA environment, the leader needs to cultivate a strong skill in discernment between what is reality and what are merely caricatures of it. The ability to distinguish the neuomena (the real) from phenomena (expressions of the real) is especially important for those who lead others. This is a rare and valuable ability, but attainable through careful mental discipline. This paper brings the concept of the Arya leader (the noble leader) from ancient Vedic texts into a modern day context for consideration. Such a skill helps leaders enact organizational strategies that lead to competitive advantage within an ethical framework.


When does one begin practicing to be a great leader? Chances are that if you are reading this article you are already contemplating leadership responsibility. So, the answer for you is clear, you begin practice now. If you are already in a leadership position, and performing your duty ethically, economically and successfully, it is likely that you already intuitively follow the precepts of the arya or noble leader. The arya leader philosophy explained in the following pagers is about reflective analysis of the Self in keeping with Vedic and Socratic principles of "Know Thyself."

Leader Obligation to be a "Values Champion"

The justly famous "learning organization model" posited by Senge (1990) requires "learning" leadersones that are ever watchful for environmental lessons that advance corporate values. For a leader to profess that he is fostering a learning climate in his organization, and yet has not bothered to learn more about himself, this will surely hinder the learning process of the organization argues Senge (1990). Senge's warning echoes loudly today. From the propensity of leader pathology in public and private corporations in modernity (Coates, 2004, 2007, it is clearly evident that the leaders in debacles of Enron, Tyco, Worldcom, General Motors, Bank of America, AIG, and others, were neither champions of their own organizational ideals, nor astute learners. We did see that self-interested bias prevailed. However, if there is any thin silver lining of a lesson to be learned from the recent stories of Bernie Madoff and the philosophy of greed epitomized by the fictional Gordon Gekko,v, is that immorality, conscious or unconscious at the top is bad for business. The Exxon Valdez, Johnson and Johnson, and Tylenol cases showed that market value decreased by 8% after these catastrophes, whereas after ten weeks following these disasters the stock of firms with ethical values increased by 5%, and unethical firms dropped by 15% (Fombrun, 2001). For utilitarian reasons, therefore, corporate leaders need to be the leading champions of the organization's espoused values. The military recognizes this value and has articulated it in doctrineU. S. Army expects every leader to be a "Values Champion"7 and to do his/her duty (USAWC, Primer, FM22100). To be such a "champion" the leader must have the facility to reason clearly on facts, and not be swayed by his own emotional whimsicalities. Wong, Gerras, (3-5, 2003) have noted that the qualities of self- awareness and ethical responsibility are ones needed for strategic leadership in today's complex military environment. In its efforts to grow and develop officers who could be leaders in the future, the Army Field Manual provides guidance, based on the U.S. Constitution. It explains that "Army leadership begins with character, the values and attitudes that shape what leaders must BE." (2005).

How can we expect a leader to be a values champion and do his duty? …

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