PEOPLE MANAGEMENT SB-STYLE
Document date: 08-11-02
By: Robert Priddy
Flattery is a powerful manipulative tool. Probably a majority of Sai devotees find it irresistible. Those of them who take SBs flattery completely at face value (i.e. a mere glance is even considered a blessing!), and who seek more of it, surely have other weaknesses too. Such persons are easily handled by the method of repeated attraction/repulsion, the psychological push-pull treatment which keeps them uncertain of themselves, but still attached in hope of greater things for themselves. If such things very seldom actually come about, and their absence cannot be explained, they may be rationalised away by self-deprecation. I have seen this occur to Sai devotees again and again. Due to his intuitive powers, SB is very clever at gauging a persons condition is, what is needed to keep them waiting, wondering and still dependent whether a word or two, or a grimace - taking a proffered letter, or an angry and unpleasant look.
Those who fall at his feet, mesmerised by paranormal events they see as all issuing from him (qua God Almighty) often function in public as his fall guys. This is a sorry condition, even though they may get a lift and enjoy the experience at the time. Such persons hate facts that jar their belief in the benefits they imagine thus obtained, and reject in advance certain orders of fact as faithless fiction or maya delusion. They act as SBs unofficial spokesmen (nearly all men) who say only what they have been told, i.e. SBs set of often clashing doctrines. They are often promising material for some kind of office in Sai institutions.
Meanwhile, SB has shown himself remarkably unable to make proper use of the people with genuine human resources who have wanted to put themselves at his disposal through the Sai Org. In several countries I which I visited major centres, I have found that the most civil, understanding and practically willing persons have been alienated by the behaviour of certain leaders in the Organisation. Further, the more enlightened and understanding persons who hold office are invariably pressed out after a time, or leave of their own accord due to unacceptable compromises required of them and the limitations of the role they find they have to fill. Excellence in the form of high social skills, previous wide experience of voluntary organisational work, and leading by example in genuine face-to-face service work with the suffering and poverty-stricken are all too often evidently not given much weight in the actual running of the organisation. Most of the current leaders do not fit this bill at all.
Added to all this are the conflicts between most Indian diaspora devotees and most native residents in many Western countries, mostly over leadership, forms of worship and which religious emphasis, which are very well-known to anyone who has followed such organisational matters. The longest and most entrenched leaders (with their committee meetings, tourist trips to one anothers countries etc.) are mainly as nice as pie to one another and to their own henchmen, but present another face to their imagined or real competitors and are less inviting or friendly towards many ordinary devotees.
The formation of cliques is probably unavoidable in any large voluntary organisation, but the Sai Org. reminds too much of a corporation with internecine strife and a social chasm between management and staff. This reflects on SB, who selects the unelected top leaders and who evidently finds the rigid top-down structure and authoritarian functioning of the subservient system basically acceptable. I soon realised how things were and, along with the members of the Oslo Centre, we rejected all opportunities of rising within the international organisation. My wife and I insulated the other members from the pressures from above to partake in various impracticable or otherwise unacceptable schemes etc., and I turned down offers of travelling and holding talks etc. to promote the organisation or its various courses in other countries