Running a government is quite like running a business. Akbar, the Great, became one of the greatest rulers in the history of India because he was THE BEST administrator by a mile. Akbar succeeded like no one before or after him because he ran his empire like the world’s finest businessmen run their businesses.
1. Like a successful businessman, Akbar had a clear vision.
He wanted to build an empire and an image that would remain etched in history. And he succeeded.
2. He did not deviate from his vision.
Unlike many other rulers before or after him, Akbar never did anything during his reign that would not help him achieve his objective.
3. A businessman must know his market. And know it really well.
A large majority of his subjects (Akbar’s market) were Hindus. Unlike most Muslim rulers, Akbar did not follow the method of persecution of non-Muslims.
4. A businessman must earn the trust of his market.
Akbar is the only Muslim ruler in the entire Muslim world to have repealed the Jiziya. This earned him visibility within the market and maintained that with reformist tax systems such as Dahsala.
5. Get the best men and place them according to their talents.
Akbar picked the right man for the right job, without any discrimination. His court was full of experts of different fields. The nine gems are a fine example.
6. Akbar knew that cohesion at all levels is essential for progress.
Akbar was the second Muslim ruler (after Sher Shah Suri) to understand this fact.
7. Akbar identified areas other than profit maximization to earn goodwill.
Akbar was a patron of arts and culture, and understood that these reflect the true success of an empire.
8. Decentralize power but don’t lose control.
Subedars and mansabdars had their own armies, but Akbar exercised full control and maintained a standing army of his own.
9. Secure the loyalty of the most integral people of your business.
Sales force (Marketing, in general) is usually the most important part of a business. Akbar’s sales force was the army – so he ensured that the army was well paid (in fact, the highest paid army at the time).
10. Build profitable partnerships or acquire other “profitable businesses”.
Akbar’s alliance with the Rajputs put his empire on a fast-track of growth. He understood that Rajputs would prove to be the most important wheel of his empire.
11. No one likes a money-hungry businessman.
Akbar was passionate about building a strong empire but did not compromise on welfare of his subjects.
12. Be a risk taker and believe in yourself.
In spite of opposition from the orthodox religious leaders of his time, Akbar went ahead with his theological experiment of Din-i-Ilahi.
13. Establish cordial relations with other powerful corporate houses in the same business.
Akbar established diplomatic and trade relations with the Portuguese, the Ottomans and the Safavids – all three very powerful empires of his time.
14. Have a policy that offers the best opportunity to the ambitious.
Civil administrators could have military ranks under Akbar’s centralized military structure. An expansion of opportunities for the able.
15. Be ruthless while pursuing your goal but don’t be a tyrant.
The only place he destroyed was Chittor (in 1568), for they opposed his rule.
16. Ensure security and smoothness of the supply chain.
He built forts along prominent trade routes to secure them, while also building new ones.
The empire which Akbar so assiduously built collapsed because of his great-grandson Aurangazeb’s myopic policies. Business empires, too, collapse because of the same reason.