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Communicating a holistic perspective to the world: Kautilya on leadership

Neera Jain (Management Development Institute, Gurgaon, India)
Shoma Mukherji (Management Development Institute, Gurgaon, India)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 10 July 2009



The purpose of this paper is to cull out leadership lessons from one of India's oldest books on statecraft and economics – The Arthashastra by Kautilya – and present an Indian model of leadership which may be used by scholars and practitioners for leadership development in modern global context.


An analysis of Kautilya's teachings is done based on English translation of his original works by two eminent scholars. A model of leadership is derived on the basis of Kautilya's writings.


Kautilya presents a holistic perspective as he synthesizes the Eastern and Western approaches on leadership. His skill‐based and strategic approach gets support and direction from his value‐based, ethical considerations. Also, an in depth study of his writings shows that he was a precursor to a few leadership theories developed in the Western world in modern times.


Scholars have studied The Arthashastra as a treatise on economics, politics, diplomacy and statecraft. Lessons have also been drawn on a few aspects of management and leadership. There is no comprehensive commentary available on his views on leadership. In this paper, an attempt is made to develop a leadership model which integrates the Eastern and the Western approaches on leadership and can be used for leadership development in modern times.



Jain, N. and Mukherji, S. (2009), "Communicating a holistic perspective to the world: Kautilya on leadership", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 30 No. 5, pp. 435-454.



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