Article: In crisis, lead with focus & perspective: Devdutt Pattanaik

Life @ Work

In crisis, lead with focus & perspective: Devdutt Pattanaik

“Focus and perspective are two opposite ends of a spectrum,” says Devdutt Pattanaik, Mythologist, Author, Speaker, Illustrator, in his closing keynote at SAP HR Connect 2020 Virtual Conference.
In crisis, lead with focus & perspective: Devdutt Pattanaik

A country whether developed or developing, an organization whether SME or MNC, a leader richest or smartest, everyone is in a crisis. The entire world is in a  crisis and there is absolutely no one who has all the right answers. Devdutt Pattanaik, Mythologist, Author, Speaker, Illustrator, began his closing keynote at SAP HR Connect 2020 Virtual Conference by painting the reality for all of us. 


Relating the current crisis with the Indian epics like ‘Mahabharata’ and ‘Ramayana’, Pattanaik shared that uncertainty has always existed in the world. But instead of letting uncertainties consume us we have to face them head on with two key pillars: focus and perspective. This is how ‘Arjuna’ could battle the dilemma between violence vs justice and this is how today’s business leaders and working professionals can fight the war of safety vs starvation. 

Managing crisis with focus & perspective

People often find themselves in the sphere of concerns. Especially right now with the future so unfamiliar and things like jobs and salaries in question, it is easy for any working professional to get caught in this sphere of concern. But this is the time that they must all shift the focus on now, the present and work towards the things that are under their control. This is what Pattanaik refers to as the ‘sphere of influence’. 

Use Post-its, to do lists, apps or notepad, but create lists of things you can do now and have the ability to do and focus your time and energy on them. 

Simultaneously, it is important to embrace the reality and the changes the crisis brings along with it. The pandemic has challenged leadership, team dynamics, organizational culture, current policies and even business models. But does the world of work have all the time in the world to just sit and whine about it?  Absolutely not. Yes, leaders and employees, all alike will be insecure, scared, and worried. But that should not stop them from moving forward. Efforts must be made and for that a shift in perspective is primary. 

It is time to relook at the way employees were compensated, the way communication was done, basically, it is time to relook at the way we work. Crisis or not, the change has always been inevitable. The intensity is surely unfamiliar but with focus, perspective and an agile framework to guide and enable the leaders and the workforce, organizations can better manage any crisis. 

“Leadership is about constantly empowering & enabling people,” says Pattanaik. 

As a community, we need to embrace this new reality, and prepare ourselves, and enable our organizations. And for this Pattanaik said the world needs more generosity. 

Gratitude vs Generosity: What is the need of the hour?

“This is the time for generosity and not gratitude, as we look at everyone's welfare. Generosity is the word for 2020 and 2021,” shared Pattanaik. 

He reiterated again and said that words are cheap and actions are expensive. While gratitude means saying thank you and appreciating in words, generosity is more action-oriented. The true leaders that will best be remembered when this crisis is over, are those who put the needs of others first at great personal sacrifice. For instance, many CEOs gave away their salaries to ensure that employees at the bottom of the hierarchy don’t suffer. Some employees stepped up to donate their salaries to the helpers, migrant workers, and daily wage earners. Some delivery apps have also noticed an increase in tips since the pandemic began. 

Generosity means paying forward and this is what the world needs more of right now.

Read full story

Topics: Life @ Work, Leadership

Did you find this story helpful?



How do you envision AI transforming your work?

Your opinion matters: Tell us how we're doing this quarter!

Selected Score :