This incident from 1947 is making the rounds on WhatsApp and it shows the value of different points of view.
Soon after getting freedom from British rule in 1947, the de-facto prime minister of India, Jawahar Lal Nehru called a meeting of senior Army Officers to select the first General of the Indian army. Nehru proposed, “I think we should appoint a British officer as a General of The Indian Army, as we don’t have enough experience to lead the same.”
Having learned under the British, only to serve and rarely to lead, all the civilians and men in uniform present nodded their heads in agreement.
However one senior officer, Nathu Singh Rathore, asked for permission to speak.
Nehru was a bit taken aback by the independent streak of the officer, though, he asked him to speak freely. Rathore said, “You see, sir, we don’t have enough experience to lead a nation too, so shouldn’t we appoint a British person as the first Prime Minister of India?” After a pregnant pause, Nehru asked Rathore,
“Are you ready to be the first General of The Indian Army?”..
Rathore declined the offer saying “Sir, we have a very talented army officer, my senior, Gen. Cariappa, who is the most deserving among us.” This is how the brilliant Gen. Cariappa became the first General and Rathore the first ever Lt. General of the Indian Army.
How comfortable are you with different points of view ? Especially coming from your direct reports, team members, those at the lower levels of the hierarchy :). Without a different point of view, we might have never had the charismatic Gen Cariappa as the first General of the Indian Army !!. Get comfortable with different points of view, they are very valuable. Just imagine, if everyone thought alike… lets say like Hitler – it would be a terrible world to live in.
Celebrate and welcome different points of view !
Categories: Corporate musings