Monthly Archives: December 2014

“Even GOD has Limitations”- The Unlearning- From Akbar Birbal Stories

The Preface: Akbar The Great was the Mogul Emperor who ruled India from 1560 to 1605. He himself was illiterate, but he invited several learned people in his court. Among these people, Birbal was his most favorite minister because of his wit and intellect. There are number of folklore on Birbal in India. As an Executive Search & Recruitment professional during last two decades, I Unlearned (learned new lessons) a lot from these stories and tried to use it in my profession for the benefit of my clients and talented individuals I met and interviewed. I am sharing few of those.


The Story:


One day, a poet from a faraway kingdom arrived at the Court. He delighted everyone with his songs and poems. The Emperor, who was always generous, rewarded him well. The poet had never seen so much gold before. He was overwhelmed. Then poet offered a poem of thanks. Emperor Akbar nodded and the poet began his recitation. He spoke of the Emperor’s bravery and kindness. He praised the Emperor’s learning and wisdom. He ended by saying that Emperor Akbar was the greatest king that had ever ruled this world or any other. He is greater than God Himself. With that, the poet bowed and left the hall.There was a moment of silence. Emperor Akbar looked around and his eyes began to twinkle mischievously. “So,” he said, “it appears that I am now even greater than God”. Emperor Akbar looked at his ministers and commanders, his nobles and his counselors. He wondered if any of them would have the courage to speak the truth. Nobody stirred.


“So,” said the Emperor, beginning to feel irritated, “everyone present agrees that your Emperor is greater than God.” Nobody dared to disagree. He turned to Birbal with a frown. “And you, Birbal. Do you agree too?” he asked. “Yes,” Birbal replied immediately. The Emperor’s frown grew. “Your Majesty, you can do something even God cannot! “Birbal said. “If any of your subjects displease you, your Majesty, you can banish him from your empire, never to return. But God can not because God rules over the entire earth, the sky and the heaven. This universe is God’s Kingdom. There is no place in this universe that does not belong to God. Hence GOD cannot banish any of his creatures from His Empire.” “Well said, Birbal!” Akbar cried delightedly!


The Unlearning


There is no body in this world capable of everything. Even GOD has limitations.


The Professional Observation


As an Executive Search or Head hunting Professional, it is my part of my role to read resumes, interview people and to evaluate to draw compatibility with mandate on hand. Many candidates in their resumes despite of limited success portray themselves as capable of doing anything, capable of managing any situation or company of anysize. Perhaps they don’t know that even GOD has limitations. During my interview and interactions with individuals, I make it a point to confront them and facilitate the understanding. Many reasonable ones are quick to correct and realize the folly and rewrite their resumes. This also helped me to build a long lasting and healthy relationship with such executives.

Interviewing, assessing and helping an individual to understand his true potential is relatively easier task when compared with making recommendations to the client. There exists a potential conflict of interest.Highlighting our own recommended candidate’s shortcomings can sometimes go against one’s own interest because for executive search professionals, a part of our income/success comes from selection. It challenges professional and intellectual integrity of even best Executive Search Professional. It has a potential to derail the assignment and most of Executive Search Professionals in such situations end up putting extra efforts. But still it has to dare it to be done.


I firmly believe, for an executive search professional, when forwarding one’s recommendations to a customer, highlighting limitations or shortcomings of the recommended candidate in an unbiased manner should be more important than highlighting strengths of the individual. it is better understanding of limitations of an individual that would be needed for success of an assignment and healthy & long lasting relationships. Such inputs in general are most appreciated by my most of my clients however one of my clients complained saying “Mr. Marwah, I have a problem in selecting a candidate due to area of concerns mentioned by you in the report. I would prefer if you could recommend someone who is fully compatible without the limitations. At that time I narrated my client above Akbar Birbal Story. In my view, once useful credentials of an individual is established then  focus should be only on the limitations of individuals. One need to decide  if team mate or organization  can cope up with the limitations he/she has and how can it  be supplemented either through a team augmentation or otherwise so that an incumbent could have smooth sailing.

As an Executive Search Professional, we also have our own set of limitations which many times our clients are notable to clearly understand or appreciate. There are usual   limitations that each Executive Search Professional has in his/ her individual capacity of subject matter expertise to search a specific sector at a specific level or searching in a specific geographic location/s that any one should look at before retaining an Executive Search Professional. But our biggest limitation is that we can only search and cannot manufacture or develop an individual to perfectly match our client’s requirements. Under the light of this fact, if some of Executive Search Professionals still show courage to list the limitations of their own recommended candidates ignoring their own self-interest then it is matter of appreciation and to be proud of

The Unlearning – ‘AAA’ Personality Traits

The Preface: Akbar The Great was the Mogul Emperor who ruled India from 1560 to 1605. He himself was illiterate, but he invited several learned people in his court. Among these people, Birbal washis most favorite minister because of his wit and intellect. There are number of folklore on Birbal in India. As an Executive Search & Recruitment professional during last two decades, I Unlearned (learned new lessons) a lot from these stories and tried to use it in my profession for the benefit of my clients and talented individuals I met and interviewed.

The Story

Apart from his sharp intellect, Birbal was also a devotee of Sri Rama and would not miss his prayers at any cost. Wherever Akbar went, he used to take Birbal along with him. During one such instance, they took a route through a dense forest. They lost their way and both were totally exhausted and famished. So they decided to rest for a while. Akbar wanted to look around the place to see if he could find a house to get some food. Birbal asked Akbar to excuse him and went on to his prayer. Akbar looked at Birbal and preached “Mere chanting of the names of the Lord will not fetch you food. You have to put in your own efforts. You cannot achieve anything otherwise’.

Akbar left in pursuit of food. In a little while he spotted a house. The inmates of the house were overjoyed to see the Emperor coming to their doorstep for food. They treated him to the best of their capacity. Akbar finished his meal and took a little food for Birbal too. He gave Birbal the food. “See Birbal, I told you.I made some effort to find food and I got it. You were just sitting and chanting Rama Nama and you did not get any food.”

After finishing the meal given by Akbar, Birbal looked up at Akbar and said, “I have just now experienced the power of Rama Nama, like never before. You are the ruler of the land. But today even you had to beg for food. And look at me, I was just chanting Lord’s Name here and the Rama Nama made the Emperor himself to get me the food. Such is the power of Rama Nama!”

The Unlearning:

Most take the credit for resolving a crisis during which they had factually done nothing except for praying to their GOD.

Professional Observation

As an Executive Search Professional after having identified the individual,it is very important to differentiate these traits otherwise it can prove detrimental  At MAGNA Global we give lot of importance to these aspects to safeguard the interest of our clients. How can we be reasonably sure that the person we are recommending to our clients is the actually the one with right traits? After lot of hit and trial, I devised some matrices for evaluating Managerial and Leadership positions. One of them is named as ‘AAA’ Traits.

  1. 1st A – Anticipation – A Manager / Leader must be able to anticipate forthcoming problem or needs. In this story both Birbal & Akbar failed to anticipate the need for carrying the food with them in their journey.
  2. 2nd A – Act – They must act in time to avert or resolve it. In this case, Birbal failed to act at all though it seems to be his prime responsibility. Akbar took upon himself and lead from the front to resolve the crisis.
  3. 3rd A- Align – Akbar is yet to align the organization to find permanent solution to solution

By questioning prospective probable on AAA traits, during the interview & selection processes, one can reasonably judge the capabilities of the individuals.

Some examples are:


  1. Why were you or your company not able to anticipate the problem / need in advance? When did you actually realize the likely hood of the problem?

One who is used to anticipate will start giving many logically deduced indicators and explain the reasons for failure. One who is not used to anticipation will generally start putting the blame on someone else.

  1. How did you act? What made you to take a particular direction in response to the situation? E.g. in this story how did you decide which direction to take to find food (Of course, searching on Google cannot be the answer).

One who is the acting type will enumerate number of ways & means at his/her disposal to avoid or resolve the crisis. And you know what other kind does!

  1. Align – How did you ensure that it does not happen again in future or does not happen unexpectedly? This is true leadership trait. Managerial level can only give operational solution. The type of answers will decide their capability and maturity level.

In this story Akbar is yet to find permanent solution to align which he did later on by putting service posts with water and food along the journey path.


This matrix can also be used for self-evaluation. I suggest rate yourself objectively and in an unbiased manner (on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 being the lowest & 5 being the highest) and see how you Score on AAA Matrices. The best way to do is to take at least 5 situations/ anecdotes from your professional, personal & social sphere in the recent past and rank yourself on AAA matrix. Find out which ‘A’ you excelled and which you ‘A’ you did not do well. If a pattern emerges then that a particular “A” you seem to be lacking or excelling. That will give you a way to improve. How to improve is another question which is outside the purview of this article and frankly also beyond purview of my specialization.Rate others while selecting and see how it works for you. Ratio of each A will be different from position to position, role to role and from organization to organization. We are also trying to embed these matrices in the assessment module of my new venture Universal Recruitment platform – SURPaaS. I am sharing my Unlearning experience with a hope that it will help others and sincerely request critical comments to improve it further.

Why Organizations Outsource HR Duties

Every company either small, big or a startup needs to enforce human resource laws and policies to secure their employees. So, does this mean the organization should have an HR department implemented inside the entity?

For fast growing businesses the major problem for them might be managing the needs of their workforce in time. A popular trend in many of the business organizations today is outsourcing of the HR department for managing hiring and recruitment process.

According to Jan Kruchoski, principal-in-charge, CliftonLarsonAllen Search LLC in an article by Dan Emerson on stated that it entirely depends on an organization when they want to hire an HR leader. Jan also said that a highly focused professional service firm may want to make that calculation earlier than a small manufacturing business with shift workers, who may not want a full-time HR specialist.
A Minneapolis based HR consultant, Arlene Vernon highlighted the need for companies that often hire entry-level employees needs to have an in- house HR leader to handle job descriptions, employee orientation, managing benefits and maintaining personnel files.

Some of the common functions of an outsourced HR department in small businesses are mostly payroll, preparing necessary documents for the employees, keeping record of employee details etc. Companies who do not have an HR department mostly face problems while firing an employee because firing an employee requires written policies and documentations. If you fail to provide the supporting papers for that decision, it can make an employer accountable for paying unemployment benefits and potentially trigger legal liability. So, it becomes very essential to have an HR specialist who can manage the hiring and firing of employees either on-staff or outsourced, as said by Vernon.

Ken Viggers, HR management services director in RSM McGladrey’s Cedar Rapids, Iowa, expressed his views on the same saying that when organizations contain at least 50employees they often outsource functions to a contract HR manager. However, companies having 100 or more employees require a full-time, in-house HR manager. HR generalists are responsible for doing those types of jobs.

By |December 3rd, 2014|Standard Post|0 Comments|

The unlearning from Akbar Birbal Story

The Most Common Profession

Akbar’s Question:
One day Akbar resolved to find out which profession was the most Common Profession in his capital. He asked the
courtiers; some said trade, others said masonry, but the general consensus was on soldiering.

Birbal’s Answer:
When Birbal’s turn came, he arose from his seat, bowed before Akbar and said, “Your Majesty, in my opinion the most
popular profession is medicine.” This was surprising as one could count the number of physicians in the city. The court
physician was furious and said that Birbal had no clue about how difficult it was to train in this profession and advise
people on medical problems.

Birbal smiled and said, “I can prove my statement, Your Majesty, if you come with me tomorrow morning.”

Akbar agreed, and the next morning met Birbal on a major crossroad in the city.
Birbal had a bandage on one hand. Akbar looked at it and asked what the matter was. Birbal said, “I cut my hand while
chopping fruits for breakfast. Please, Your Majesty, you will have to write down the names of all the physicians we come

“I will do that Birbal, but be sure to wash that wound well and apply some ointment on it,” said Akbar.

I will, Your Majesty, but only after I have proven my statement,” said Birbal.

They sat at the busy crossroad all through the day. Birbal was a well-known personality, so everyone who passed by
asked Birbal about his injury and advised him about some medication or the other. As the day wore on, the list grew long
and by afternoon Akbar was tired of writing names, so he suggested they go home.
Birbal asked for the list and said, “My Lord, you forgot to write your own name at the top of the list. You were the first
one to advise me!”

Unlearning from story:
What is free or cheap or commonly available, need not be most suited. When it’s critical, there’s no alternative to Professional help.

Professional observation:
In the similar vein of story, as per professional observation, in today’s world, after Medicine profession, second most common Profession is Recruiting or Talent Search. Any common man/woman starting from house wife to CEO has an idea how to search a talent. Everyone tells you how he/ she had found talent successfully and advises you to do the same.

But the experienced & competent recruitment consultants india / search Professional is worried how to find new ways to hunt good candidates for their clients. They (Professional Searcher) don’t talk of solution before knowing facts & understanding the constraints. Professional Searchers know that they are requisitioned only when in-house or common efforts do not yield results. Professional Searcher knows that in this fast paced world. Searcher’s competence lies not in learning but constantly unlearning .

We, at Magna, try hard to unlearn of the art of searching. Despite of doing many tough searches in the past, we still find ourselves nothing but bright students of science of Search. Talent Search – A science which is yet to be fully discovered. We are not the largest Executive Search company in the world but we are definitely among the top tough search ones. We advise our customer to refer us only when in-house efforts does not yield results or when Other Recruiter fails

By |December 3rd, 2014|Standard Post|0 Comments|