The power of the karta

We have all heard the story of how a rotten apple when placed in a basket of healthy apples, has the power and ability to ‘spoil’ the entire bunch. Biologically speaking, this occurs because the rotting apple gives off ethylene, which speeds up the ripening of the other apples. We do not know if this happens in the case of humans: it would be interesting to find out. 

What we do know however, is how an effete, ineffective and corrupt leader can cause his team and organisation to “rot” and malfunction over a period of time. This is evident if you analyse the saga of global business giants which fell by the wayside simply due to the failings of the top management – more particularly, the top manager.

An inept leader spreads the malaise

It is intriguing to see how an inept leader not only colours his team, but also spreads the malaise a long way – so much so that entire economies collapse. Leaders who are enthusiastic, encouraging and motivated tend to build motivated and higher performing teams since everyone takes their energy, culture, attitude and pace from that leader. In return, the leader receives from his team a feeling of satisfaction, an enjoyment in seeing the team contribute at higher levels and of course the excitement of being part of the team member's personal and professional development. As French actor Sarah Bernhardt puts it: “Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich”.

This amazing phenomenon of one individual influencing the entire junta is indeed a study in energy management. There is an important concept in operation here - the energy of the ‘karta’.  

The Karta (literal meaning, ‘One who does’is a characteristic in the personality of a person, who heads the family in a business or organisational context, and who is able to influence the others through his conduct or behaviour. Even India's legal system recognizes the concept of  karta as the head of a Hindu joint family.

Karta is the energy source
However, in energy terms, a karta is not merely a figurehead – he is the source of energy for his entire clan. The clan’s energy is a reflection of his energy – a notion that is beautifully encapsulated in the Hindi saying ‘Jaisa Raja Waisi Praja’ (As the king, so are his subjects).  In other words, if the karta’s energy pattern or frequency changes, it will in turn impact the energy pattern of the entire clan. The ability of a team to deliver the goods can be gauged from the ability of its karta, its leader.

Leaders are often people who must significantly shape a culture through the ways they communicate, interact with members of their communities, and help to form the ways in which their fellow citizens think about themselves. Historically, we have seen how for every inept business leader, there are many who are hailed as beacons of hope. Compared to large companies that bleed manpower, there are several small businesses that boast of near-zero attrition simply because of the positive influence of the top boss over his/her colleagues and employees. Leadership skills – like the proverbial and metaphysical yin-yang – can work both ways. It’s all a matter of choice, really. A choice of which energy path to take.


Unknown said...

Very nice as always.

All I want to add is that sometimes a common cause can also be a source of positive energy. Before independence, the British were the common enemy and we had leaders of stature. Now, there are no leaders of stature or an overriding common cause which is the reason of what you have mentioned at the corporate level permeating throughout the nation as a hall. They cynicism s that the politicians attract and the fact that there are no real role models at the top level in politics is the worst kind of negative energy which is being manifested in scams and corruption of all kinds.

Whether leading a group of people or a nation, the onus of generating the right energy is all on the leader as you have pointed out,

Ross Taylor said...

Such a interesting article. Thanks, to sharing the information about "The Power Of Karta". "Karta" is a resource of power for his whole team. It is a attribute in the character of a person, who leads close relatives members in a business or organisational perspective, and who is able to impact the others through his perform or behaviour. Market Research Report

Hiren said...

Nice and very relevant article especially in the context of autocratic bosses who spread a lot of negative energy. I was once in a lighting company where the focus was to produce lower watt loss ballasts to save electrical energy and costs and therefore have a better USP. I always used to wonder why there could not be a lower watt loss management instead of wild autocratic behavior of one of the directors which used to vitiate the entire atmosphere. The company never made much headway.Proper Group energy management should be a universal HR objective.