The Parable of the Sadhu is reminiscent of other stories showing sacrifice of one for the many. If the group followed the ethical behavior of the Good Samaritan in the Biblical parable of the same name, it would have achieved a better outcome for the Sadhu. In the Biblical parable, many passed, but one took care of the man who had been robbed and beaten. He bandaged his wounds, carried him to an inn, and paid for his treatment. Similarly, the business practice can achieve victorious ends when caring for others.
In today’s corporate America, adverse situations occur destroying a business when there is internal conflict. Just as GE annually fired the bottom 10 percent of its workers to improve profits and encourage an increase in work, GE allowed its work environment to deteriorate (Mackey & Sisoda, 2017. P 90). This fear of being in the bottom 10 percent made for a stressful situation and pitted the employees against each other. This internal competition erased teamwork and caused rivalry amongst employees. To stay on top, workers developed a sense of distrust for each other and obtained a willingness to step over each other to ensure their continued employment. Had GE focused its efforts on building team performance without fear, but with caring, the workplace gains peace. Research shows the happier the workplace, the more successful a company becomes.
Another image found in the parable is the willingness to step over an older, weaker human. Unfortunately, this occurs many times today. “Studies have shown that employers assume older applicants are less creative, less productive, slower mentally and more expensive to employ than early- or mid-career employees” (Reade, 2015). There is one thing that overlooked when working with an older person: experience. While their computer skills may be lacking or they may walk a little slower, their experience is much more worthwhile. They have worked through many obstacles not only in the workplace but their lives and offered far more than one can imagine if business allows it.
Working as a team is a lesson learned from this parable. Everyone as an individual gave something to the Sadhu to assist him. Each left feeling comfortable with the little bit he or she gave to relieve his or her consciences, continuing to the summit without regret. In the end, the Sadhu was left to his own devices to survive. What would have happened if the entire group worked to save this man? The possibilities of his survival would have increased, getting him to a place of safety would have been faster, the attitude of the groups would have grown, and maybe time enough would be saved to get to the summit. Even if no one reached the peak, one hopes saving a life brings more of a feeling of accomplishment.
In the same way, businesses should work together as a team. “Working in teams creates familiarity and trust and comes naturally to people” (Mackey & Sisodia, 2017. P 91). It creates comradery and produces quality in the workplace. The adage remains true today: together everyone achieves more.
In conclusion, The Parable of the Sadhu teaches ethical behavior in the workplace. While some work to achieve remarkable success through profit and being at the summit of the corporate mountain, others maintain teamwork and collaboration as their victory. In the end, one achieves greater success by helping others than by forgetting the bottom rung of the ladder; the place where all workers began.
Mackey, J. & Sisodia, R. (2017). Conscious capitalism. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review
McCoy, B. H. (1997). The parable of the sadhu. Harvard Business Review, 75(3), 54–64.
Retrieved from http://marc-lemenestrel.net/IMG/pdf/the_parable_of_sadhu_-bowen_h._mccoy.pdf
Reade, N. (2015, September). The surprising truth about older workers. AARP: Work & jobs,
Job search. Retrieved from http://www.aarp.org/work/job-hunting/info-07-2013/older-workers-more-valuable.html