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BW Businessworld

Analysis: What You See Is What You Don't Get

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What you see is what you get. Tall order here! That is one thing that cannot be said of the predicament that Ranbeer finds himself in.  The basis of his approach was trust.  He obviously had no idea about the intrigue he was stepping into.  If you walked into a jungle by yourself, your senses would be on high alert and you'd be naturally cautious, watchful. If you were sent to Afghanistan on a work assignment, you probably wouldn't get any insurance coverage. The risk is known. Or alternatively if you decided to climb Mt Everest, you'd be pretty sure to put in a substantial amount of practice and training. The risks are known and you take 'abundant precaution'.  Not everyone would be able to handle the uncertainty and imminent danger.  But you make a choice.  Ranbeer had no idea what he was getting into and how it would turn his life upside down and nearly kill him.

The basis of a peaceful civil society is the creation of a level ground where people can co-exist in harmony, pursuing the things they are drawn to, various forms of value creation, taking care of their families, building a framework that can sustain life and interest, in a manner that is "pro"-ductive and not "de"-structive.  Such an effort requires a huge coordination. There is a powerful inter-linkage between the efforts of a government to provide the fundamental framework that ensures fairness, equity, justice and the like, on the one hand, and the pursuit of people who drive the direction, energize the system and create value for the future, on the other. The absence of the former results in anarchy because there is no code that people abide by. The absence of the latter results in an arid future with nothing to look forward to.  Enterprise is that energy that drives the creation of value and sustainability. Ideally. There is a relation of figure and ground between the two. A painting needs a good canvas.

Looking at it from the perspective of absence of governance or enterprise is only hypothetical, to make a point.  The reality is different.  You can have governance that is well meaning and intentioned but is fractured. The very people 'running the show' may be so deprived and needy that their actions become driven to serve themselves and they become a law unto themselves.  The authorities make the right moves to smell out the fraud but are vulnerable because of their own neediness which makes them bribable, leading to the misuse of their position.  From the outside it may look as if it is a 'wysiwyg' sort of entity but on closer experience you see that nothing happens unless you grease the right palms. The impact of such a two-facedness is the breakdown of trust. Over time people discount the government. The space becomes wide open for those who have the might of the figurative muscle to do what suits them. The chairman of Stalsky is a symbolic representation of this kind of negative force.  He knows what he wants and he can get it independently of the government, which tried to create the level playing field but is unable to sustain it because of the deprivation of its own people.

This is not only about the entities of Governance and Enterprise.  Ranbeer is the 'common' man, albeit a very fortunate one (as compared to those without the means of either money or education), having achieved a measure of success as a professional.  Life can go on without any 'trouble' as long as you don't cross paths with the 'deprived' representative of the state or the self serving, anarchic face of entrpreneurship.  There are thousands of Ranbeer's (or Tulsa's) who are forced to kowtow to the corrupt, else they will face a fate that destroys their lives. Consequence: forced silence, simmering anger. Not exactly the kinds of things that create value into the future. What will that give rise to? Inspiration or cynicism?

There are two kinds of leadership that stand out in this case. One, the leadership of the framework creators, the government, that has the power and yet is powerless because their very own people act in a self serving way, and the leadership perhaps either does not look at it or turns the other way. The reality of the internal deprivation of its own people is not addressed.  The second kind of leadership is that of the chairman of Stalsky.  This is the proverbial mafia leader who demands complete subservience and support for all the corrupt activities that they knowingly engage in.  On the outside very suave and worldly but internally demanding a loyalty that requires their followers to put aside, indeed sacrifice, their own sense of right and wrong. 

Leadership creates the future. Actions today impact tomorrow. It is more than ever necessary for leaders to turn their attention inward and open up their own awareness of themselves and the consequences of their actions.  In the absence of a strong leadership, the danger of anarchy looms.  The 'common' man, whether a professional like Ranbeer or others like him cannot be expected to fight for themselves and become righteous activists.  They have their own responsibilities towards their families which cannot be sacrificed by taking on a suicidal mission for which they don't even have the resources.

Does leadership have the courage to face itself?

Kaushik Gopal a psychologist-psychoanalyst who works as the Coaching Talent Manager for Center for Creative Leadership, APAC and is based out of Singapore.