Dhritarashtra: The Blind King

Continuing from where I left the first article of the series, I’ve found some of the traits of Dhritarashtra surprisingly similar to some of the individuals I met and observed in my professional life; not on a personal level, but definitely at a professional level. Many may think that it is not possible for such a character to exist in today’s age, but wait before jumping to conclusions.

Dhritarashtra was the eldest, but blind, son of the royal family while Pandu was the younger one. Despite being the eldest, Dhritarashtra’s blindness was the biggest hurdle in his way of becoming the king and Pandu was crowned instead. However, destiny had something else in mind. Pandu died of a curse and circumstances led to Dhritarashtra being crowned as the ruler of Hastinapur.

Due to his high ambitions, Dhritarashtra was so obsessed with the succession plan that his whole energy went into thinking that after him, his son Duryodhan should be made King. He supported every thought, person, and circumstance that increased the possibility of his son being his successor.

Such ambitions often push people to their limits and the same happened with Dhritarashtra. The Blind King had a never-ending hunger for power and control. Not only was he disabled in the physical sense, but he also chose not to see the merit of the case, and rather supported his incompetent, unethical, and brash son. Although he was surrounded by many sane voices, he lacked intent. He had the power to avert the great war, but instead, he fuelled it with every decision and ignorance.

If the same situations are extrapolated on modern-day corporates, some characteristics/elements will read like this –

His Position – Decision-Maker; Top Guy with Corner Office

His Passion – To remain in power, but do nothing to reward the right people

His Leadership Style – ‘Kill the Merit’ at any cost

His Attitude Towards His Job – Being a Showstopper at all events, making appearances at meetings, holding regular darbars, and talking abstract. Even if he is talking to the bottom of the pyramid and quite a functional set of people, he will talk only visions and global perspectives.

His Agenda – Create a ‘Yes Sayers’ Club’ and promote the ones who start their deliberation with “As Sir guided”

His Contribution – To impose unrealistic targets/KPI’s on the team with the help of his 2nd in command

His Limiting Factors – Not only both Dhritarashtra and this corner office guy are metaphorically blind to the ‘real picture’, but they are also hearing-impaired in that only praising sounds and flattery goes through their ears. Automatic filters are already in place because of which ‘candid feedback’ is murdered by loyalists.

His End – All his sons got killed and he went to the forest and got consumed by fire. But he made sure that before he lost everything he was instrumental in denting the whole system which would now take years to be fixed. This is quite similar to the scenario where the organisation becomes a mess and a merger/takeover/mass attrition is the only option left.

This is one of the Modern Dhritarashtras whom I observed in my corporate career. What’s your take on it? Have you ever been face to face with such an individual in your organisation? Comments are welcomed!

And yes, stay tuned, there are more characters to come! 

This post was orginally published on Linkedin here – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dhritarashtra-blind-king-jitendra-malhotra/

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