Leadership through chess

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I have always wondered we now have so many leadership workshops and trainings for the newly recruited and promoted managers . Have you ever wondered, what trainings and workshops a prince would have to undergo before taking in as a king.Were there any leadership workshops from the blue blood in the good olden days? Could you Imagine a prince sent for a leadership workshop before being sworn in as a king.

Parables of leadership published in Harvard Business Review gives us an idea that they had to take leadership wisdom from the monks. The would be giving had to stay with monks in forests or on mountain tops. These leadership lessons were practical , they were taught through activities. This is absolutely in lines with the modern day adult-learning principle, which says adult learn by doing it.

In India it was no different.Future kings had to stay in ashrams for years and would learn by doing and observing. This is what we call experiential learning today.

One such leadership game was Chatur-ranga- A four colored game. An ancient Indian strategy game that is commonly theorized to be the common ancestor of the board games chess, shogi, sittuyin, and makruk. Chaturanga is first known from the Gupta Empire in India around the 6th century AD.

Leadership lessons through chess

Chatur-ranga was quite similar to chess, which came from Persia. Chess is more popular today .And ,most of us know about chess , I will therefore use chess to derive the leadership wisdom of chatur-ranga.

1.Do not waste your energy in changing the nature and basic personality of your people.

  1. In chess, a player has different pieces and all of them have distinctive moves. A bishop can move diagonally, a castle can move straight and knight moves in L shape. Leaders always want everyone to move straight. You will not win , if all your pieces are same. In your team too, everyone has a distinctive quality, some people are good in relationship building, whereas others are introvert and hard workers. Some are good at planning, others are good at execution. As a leader don’t waste your energy in making them someone else,

2. Put them into the right blocks.

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the team and using them in your favour to achieve your organisational goals is what a leader is supposed to do. This is an uncanny resemblance to chess, where a player has to think , before moving any piece. Like initially you move a pawn to unravel a strategy of an opponent.

Chess is everything-science, art & sport

3. Don’t just think of your next move, plan ahead.

Chess players have foresightedness, before they move any of their pieces, they know they will have a countermove from the opponent. They think of all the options their opponent can exercise, and they are ready for it. They pre-empt their opponents move and have a strategy for that. All great leaders are visionaries and they plan well ahead.

4. Expect the unexpected.

Even after being extremely careful, sometimes they are caught in zugzwang. They have to expect the unexpected. Any move could prove hazardous, however not moving could be more hazardous. Therefore, a leader has to be proactive and has to take certain risks.

5. Optimum utilisation of resources – Control the controllable

A player has to play with whatever he/she is left with. A leader must make the optimum utilisation of resources in terms of manpower and should achieve goals with them and through them.

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