Leadership Lessons From Arthashastra

These leadership lessons are derived from Chanakya's Arthashahsthra. They were written for Kings. However, they are still relevant in the modern world.

A man is great by deeds, not by birth. — Chanakya

These leadership lessons from Arthashastra are written by Chanakya. They were written for Kings. However, they are still relevant in the modern world.

WILF (What I learned from) – Corporate Chanakya By Radhakrishnan Pillai

Who is Chanakya

Chanakya was an Indian teacher, philosopher, economist, jurist, and royal advisor.  He is traditionally identified as Kauṭilya or Vishnugupta.

Kautilya is described as a mastermind kingmaker who was an expert in various fields. Chanakya has written 6000 sutras which have been classified into 15 books, 150 chapters and 180 topics by Chanakya himself.

Read more about him – Click Here

The Book

It is divided into 3 parts

  1. Leadership
  2. Management
  3. Training


This book is not purely about management but a successful way of life. It contains principals of Chanakya regarding leadership, management, training, advice, qualities of a leader, finance and teamwork. Corporate Chanakya will definitely get your attention in the beginning but once you start reading it will not be the same because there are 175 chapters in this book and it feels like they are not in a flow.

Not so great implementation

Every chapter deals with the different issues but its more like an instruction manual. It became burdensome for me to finish this book as it is extremely dry. The author tried to impart his knowledge in this book but the editor surely didn’t do his work properly. Chapters loosely connected and kind of scattered. It’s basically a self-help book with repetitive things. That is why I have tried to condense it into a few pages so that you can learn from this book without actually reading it.

WILFThis Rating – ★★☆☆☆

What I learned from Part I – Leadership

  • According to Chanakya, a leader should have qualities like:-

  1. An intellectual thinker with good decision making
  2. Aware of internal and external threats
  3. The disciplinarian and a man of ethics
  4. Will power and control over lust, anger, greed, pride, arrogance, over-excitement
  5. Expert in managing power and dealing directly people
  6. Multi-tasker, Energetic and Vigilant
  7. Filled with enthusiasm, experience, and knowledge
  8. Philanthropist and should be equal for everyone
  9. Be with like-minded people but develop partnership only among equals
  10. Focus on execution and then speak
  11. Should have a long term approach and think ahead of time thinking and never fails to seize the right opportunity
  12. Should value old employees but should care for new employees as well
  • How to handle Competition according to Chanakya:-

  1. Recruit the right people
  2. Invest in people — Train them and pay them well
  3. Focus on developing quality in your products, services but also profit making
  4. Keep a track of your finance and protect yourself with Risk Management.
  5. Keep your USP a secret and maintain Trade Secrets
  6. Find your enemy’s weakness
  7. Study the competition and experiment Quietly
  8. Have a strong team which is always united
  9. Never take them for granted
  • How to prepare for a war against the competition according to Chanakya:-

  1. Don’t rely on tactics and develop a good long term strategy.
  2. Try to avoid war and resort to peace if possible.
  3. Prepare before going to war.
  4. Try to be ahead in the game of knowledge, technology, and people.
  • What should a leader avoid according to Chanakya:-

1. Discarding the right and favoring the wrong.

During a dispute, he should listen to both the parties and give his verdict based on facts and not emotions since the idea is to remove wickedness and not the wicked.

2. Punish the wrongdoers properly

Mastering the art of punishment i.e. he should know the difference between right and wrong and hence give a balanced punishment. He must be a man of the character himself.

3. Taking credit for the work which is done by someone else

Encouragement should be given to new ideas and give credit where its due. He should never take credit for the innovation done by his/ her employees. Ensure that everyone gets equal opportunities. He should make himself accountable to himself.

4. Anything that will harm the organization

A leader should protect his people when an outsider tries to attack his subordinates. Also, he shouldn’t rob them in any manner and reward them for good work. He should fight for his people.

5. Overburden his employees

Although employees work for the money they also crave for respect and challenge. A good leader should understand that employees need rest and peace of mind. Overburdening them might result in the loss of their productivity. He should try to give them a purpose for their lives.

6. Disrespecting elders and Principal Men

A leader should never disrespect elders. An elder here means both a man of age as well as a man of wisdom. He should always give priority to the people who have spent a major part of their time working for him.

7. Starting things and not completing them

A leader must stop working on the first venture because he is starting a new business. He should give equal attention to every task he initiates. He shall complete whatever he started.

8. Being careless

A leader should always be alert of whatever is happening in his organization, industry, surroundings, and society. He shall keep an eye on everyone and should be in touch with even his last men like drivers, peons, etc.

  • How to take care of the Employees according to Chanakya:-

  1. Give them work according to their capacity.
  2. Their Designation should be according to their ability.
  3. Human Resource Department should be given importance.
  4. The leader should act as their mentor but also understand their needs and be there for them.
  5. Plan out office vacations and provide them with benefits and insurance.
  6. They should have job security and should get their salaries on time.
  7. Performance-based promotions, rewards, and awards should be given to productive people.

Click here for Part 2

Click Here For Part 3


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