Careers

‘Managerals’ from Aesop’s Fables

Besides offering moral lessons for life, these stories can guide managers and their team members in their corporate walk

What distinguishes great literature from good literature? While the latter delights successive generations, the former illuminates the path of mankind, besides making for delectable reading. Aesop’s Fables, a vault of stories passed down nearly 2,600 years, continues to yield meanings that elucidate peculiar situations in various spheres of human activity.

These fables can be a guide for managers and their team members in their everyday corporate walk.

Betrayed by the bray

In an Aesop’s fable, a donkey chances upon a lion’s skin, puts it on and with his new, synthetic look, strikes terror in the hearts of all the other animals of the jungle. The sudden importance he has gained makes the donkey so delirious with joy that he lets out a self-congratulatory bray, and is caught out.

In these times, social media have emerged as a tool for promoting oneself professionally.

Even companies comb through these digital platforms to check out prospective hires. But unfortunately, on social media, people can wear a ‘skin’ that is not theirs. When this happens, do companies hear the bray?

“On social media, people can fake qualities or knowledge they don’t possess. In a stringent, multi-level hiring process, such people may not proceed beyond a few rounds. Where such a process is lacking, they may get hired, but it will not be long before they are seen for what they are. Habitual charlatanry of this nature lea dot this person having a bad reputation in the industry. What is true of employees is true of entrepreneurs too. Projecting a misleading image through social media, they may get a few clients, but their success will be short-lived,” says Sorav Jain, CEO of echovME, a digital marketing training and services agency.

Manageral: A false image is like an mirage of water in a desert. It will only draw people to leave them bitterly disappointed.

Stop ‘creaking’

In one of Aesop’s tales, the axles of a wagon creak as it is drawn by oxen. The beasts of burden tell the axles that they have no reason to make a noise as they are not pulling the vehicle and carrying out the hardest part of the work.

“In the corporate world, it is not uncommon to find employees who complain the most when they have the least reason to do so. Such employees may be doing so to seek attention, but such behaviour can be counter-productive. What happens to axles that creak the most; they are likely to get replaced,” says M. Keshav, founder-CEO of Mantra, which offers learning & development services for corporates.

Manageral: Exagerrating your problems is a sure way of ending up with greater worries.

Utility matters the most

In another fable, a peasant begins to axe a fruitless apple tree in his garden, ignoring the pleas of birds that they will sing for him from the branches of the tree, if he spares it. The peasant has a change of mind when he sees a honeycomb in the hollow of the tree.

These are times when start-ups spring like mushrooms. It’s rare to find a New Age start-up that does not have an attractive idea to work on. However, only some stand the test of time. And these survivors are invariably those start-ups that address a deeply-felt need among people.

Ultimately, the value of any technology is decided by how well it serves people.

To give an example, at the CII Connect Hackathon 2016, organised for students and young profesionals by the Confederation of Indian Industry in collaboration with the Government of Tamil Nadu, nearly two months ago, working models that served a deeply humanly need hogged the limelight.

Manageral: Behind every technology are people waiting to be served.

Safeguard your

credibility

Who wouldn’t have heard of the Aesop’s tale of the boy who would cry wolf and raise a false alarm for jest, only to be mauled by the fangs of a wolf, because nobody took him seriously when he cried for help on really seeing one.

“There are assertive managers. And then, there are aggressive managers. Assertive mangers have respect for themselves and others and make place a demand with the management, only on the basis of a genuine need.

They factor in the needs of others, while making a demand. In contrast, aggressive managers make constant demands, often operating from a sense of scarcity.

In the process, they may lose their credibility and when they have a genuine need, their plea may go unheeded,” says Keshav. Manageral: Stay safe from the real wolf when it comes along. You know how to achieve that, don’t you?

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 4:28:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/careers/%E2%80%98Managerals%E2%80%99-from-Aesop%E2%80%99s-Fables/article16706665.ece

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