Leadership is about action and very little to do with Position. Person with Leadership skills is not at the mercy of a Title or a Position. Bhaartiya Shaastras put a lot of emphasis on management of the inner world to manage the world outside.
The one who is consistently managing the inner world to sense the condition (mental, social, political etc.) of his various partners/stakeholders and other external conditions; and mould his own actions to achieve the larger purpose.
न हि तद्विद्यते किञ्चिद्यदर्थेन न सिद्ध्यति। यत्नेन मतुमांस्तस्मादर्थमेकं प्रसाधयेत।।
There exists nothing, which cannot be accomplished by means of wealth. A wise person must aim for prosperity through one’s (continued) efforts.
This quote from Panchatantra enunciates an important principle to Leaders.
Prosperity is that which has to emerge through the raw material of wealth, with the instrument of focused efforts, says SriVishnusharman. Every Leader has to be awake, alive and alert to every opportunity in this pursuit. Never a wasted moment.
Are you mindful of your purpose as Leader – Is it possessions or prosperity?
पद्माकरमं दिनकरो विकचं करोति चन्द्रो विकासयति कैरवचक्रवालम्। नाभ्यर्थितो जलधरो अपि जलं ददाति सन्तः स्वयं परहितेषु कृताभियोगा।
The sun causes lotuses to bloom; the moon makes the cluster of lilies blossom; without being entreated, the clouds shower rains; the noble are (naturally) inclined towards welfare of others.
This counsel wisely guides the Leader towards the larger purpose of his/ her role.
Do as nature does – give and nurture all, without distinction or discrimination. Develop the habit of circulating all the goodness and prosperity that accrues to the kingdom.
Are you consistent in your habits of helping, supporting, mentoring and developing others?
उपोहश्च समुश्च क्षत्तारो ते प्रजापते। ताविहा वहतां स्फाति बहु भूमानमक्षितम।।
Those who create, and accumulate are Leaders; may they bring growth to this land, which ever sustains
We continue to learn more of how the mindset of the Leader should be.
This counsel from the sacred scriptures has given us the responsibilities of Leaders – to create prosperity – The goal should be to generate, preserve and expand – talent, knowledge, wealth etc.
Think about your mindset – is it one of expansion?
अन्यत्र धर्मादन्यत्राघर्मात् अन्यत्रास्मात् कृताकृतात। अन्यत्र भूताच्च यत्तत पश्यसि तद् वद् ।
That which thou seest as other than virtue and vice; as other than cause and effect; as other than the past and future – tell me that!
This Shlok from Kathopanishad, is a valuable counsel of the Upanishads, pertaining to a balanced approach, crucial to Leadership.
This advice sought by young Nachiketa, has deep insight for the Leader: for organizational purpose to be accomplished – the here and now mindset of the Leader is as essential as is Strategic vision. This most important moment is the present; the supreme task is the one in hand; and the person of highest value is the one being served, say the eternal masters. Objectivity is the absence of judgement and labeling. The wisdom to balance objectivity with discrimination is one of the greatest challenges to Leadership!
As a Leader, dwell on your abilities to balance the Macro and Micro; the Future and present; introspect now
अनुत्थाने ध्रुवो नाशः प्राप्तस्थानागतस्य च।
Kautilya Arthashaastra 1.19.36
In the absence of meaningful activity, destruction is certain – of that which already exists, and also of what’s yet to come!
Such power packed words from Acharya Chanakya, the great master of the science of Prosperity – stating another core principle of Leadership!
As explained in an earlier Sutra, “meaningful activity” is at the heart of Prosperity – it combines the purpose of the Leader (viz. The greater good of all the stakeholders on a sustained basis) with strategic engagement and determined execution! What if that activity is not performed (as above)? Then, Acharya cautions: 1. The Leader loses sight of the vision in pursuit of self serving goals 2. The goals of the team go off-track and in turn, 3. This triggers the start of the decline. As a cascading effect, both, the present and future of the organization lands in total disarray, observes Chanakya!
भवन्ति नम्रास्तरवः फलोद्गमैः नवाम्बुभिर्भूमिविलंबिनो घनाः। अनुद्धता सत्पुरुषाः समृद्धिभिः स्वभाव एवैष परोपकारिणाम्. ||
Bharatruhari Niti Shatakam
Fruit bearing trees, when laden with fruits, bow down due to the weight of the fruits; the rain bearing clouds laden with fresh water, hover in the sky closer to the hang low to pour life sustaining rain on the Earth. Similarly, noble and righteous persons also remain humble and charitable even on becoming very prosperous, because it is part of their nature to help others!
Bharatruhari, the great philosopher king, uses this beautiful verse to remind the Leader of his/ her character!
In this famous work of Neetishaastra, we are guided that the Leader : 1. Has the responsibility of a trustee of the organization, not of an owner 2. Has to develop a mindset – of circulation, of resources, to all stakeholders, 3. Has to do this, through an attitude of humility and service 4. Feel gratitude to be able to do so. The organization takes on the character of its Leader, suggests the master!
How well do you practise the attitude of service and gratitude?
अविस्तरम संदिग्धमविलम्बितमदुतम। उरः स्थं कणठगं वाक्यं वर्तते मध्यमे स्वरे।।
Valmiki Ramayan Kishkindha Kand 3.31
He neither (unnecessarily) delayed his delivery, unsettling the listener, nor made it too short, causing confusion in the listener’s mind. He spoke at a (suitably) moderate pitch, uttering words, coming from the heart!
This Shlok of the Ramayan is a precious advice of Valmiki Rishi, a great poet and scholar, pertaining to oral communication of the Leader.
Describing the great Neetishaastra exponent Hanuman, this gem conveys excellent practical insights – Every opportunity to communicate is valuable and thus, is an art to be mastered. While it is to be customized to circumstances, certain principles are to be followed conistently: 1. The Leader has to strive for economy of words, without sacrificing clarity. 2. Authencity should be the hallmark of communication, and 3. The pitch and tone of the voice has to be modified, so as to hold the attention of the audience – these four should harmoniously be used to create the desired impact, we are told!
यस्य स्नेहो भयं तस्य स्नेहो दुःखस्य भाजनम। स्नेहमूलानि दुःखानि तानि त्यकत्वा वसेत्सुखम्।।
Chanakya Neeti 13.5
One infatuated with something or someone, faces a threat from the same (due to vulnerability). Forgo of that very cause, and (then, O Leader) sustained happiness is in your control!
Acharya Chanakya, who spent a lifetime grooming and guiding Leaders – emphasises the need for steering clear of any object stoking desire!
While this advice from the Acharya seems so difficult to implement, he explains that the source of the Leader’s vulnerability can become the source of damage to the organization. Hence Leader can never afford to let the guard down on self behaviour – he/ she serves – not self, but the purpose of the organization. Most of all, the Leader needs to have the highest self awareness to acknowledge what’s distracting (and instantly reject it), declares Chanakya!
Ask yourself, which emotions/ things/ people have their sway over me yet?
बलमार्तभयोपशान्तये विदुषां सत्कृतये बहुश्रुतम्। सु तस्य विभोर्न केवलं गुणवत्तापि परप्रयोजना।।
He used his power to free the oppressed from fear, and his vast learning to honour the learned; thus not (just) the (Leader’s) wealth but his virtues alike, the Leader used, for everyone’s welfare!
Pandit Kalidas, the great poet philosopher, uses this beautiful verse to depict the impact, the Leader should have, on culture!
Continuing with this powerful chronicle of accomplished Leaders, we are reminded that the Leader : 1. Has the responsibility to “give” ceaselessly 2. Has to develop an understanding of stakeholders, by mindset and classify them as such 3. Has to devise ways to touch the lives of each type 4. Utilize a combination of material and emotional measures to do so. Culture is collective but the benefit should be felt individually, says Kalidas!
Is your Leadership style based on a customized approach or is it a one-size-fits-all?
कदाचित् अपि चरित्रं न लंघयेत।
Chanakya Sutra 17.5
Not even once, should the Leader violate one’s character!
Acharya Chanakya, the great exponent of Neetishaastra – emphasises the need for preservation of both – one’s values and the resultant behaviour!
While this advice from the Acharya seems so obvious, but this is an important reminder to the Leader. Neither at the peak of activity, nor during moments of quiet relaxation, the Leader can afford to let the guard down on self behaviour – he/ she need be ever alert as – 1. The people tend to follow their role model, the Leader 2. The character of the Leader creates the image of the organization 3. The Leader strengthens the confidence in minds of stakeholders through one’s espoused values and 4. Most of all, the Leader sets the highest standards for self, declares Chanakya!
अहमेव मतो महिपतेरिति सर्वः प्रकृतिष्वचिनतयत्। उदधेरिव निम्नगाशतेष्वभवन्नास्य विमानना क्वचित।।
Every person in his kingdom thought – “It is me the King loves most”; for none of them was ever disregarded, just as the ocean scorns none (and receives all) amongst the hundred streams (flowing into it)!
Pandit Kalidas, the great poet philosopher, weaves this beautiful verse to show what “engagement” should be like.
As mentioned earlier, Raghuvamsam is a powerful chronicle of an accomplished line of Leaders. Telling us about Aja, the son of Raghu, he reminds us that the Leader : 1. Has to be accessible, available and approachable 2. Has to devise policies and means of making sure stakeholders are heard without prejudice and 3. Has to devise ways to make them feel delighted (atleast the majority who are law-abiding). It is the responsibility of the Leader, to constantly sense the mood of the stakeholders and act suitably and with urgency, says Kalidas!
श्रेयश्च प्रेयश्च मनुष्यमेतस्तौ सम्परीत्य विविनक्ति धीरः। श्रेयो हि धीरोऽभि प्रेयसो वृणीते प्रेयो मन्दो योगक्शेमाद्वृणीते॥
Both, the good and the pleasing approach the mortal human; the wise (Leader) examines them thoroughly – discriminating between the two, he/she prefers the Good to the Pleasing; the ignorant chooses the pleasing, for the sake of the body, for acquiring and keeping
This is one of the powerful messages from the Upanishad – relating to the choice which is always to be made by the Leader!
What the Kathopanishad calls as Shreyah, is at the heart of Leadership – the choice of the long winding and uphill path, over the path which is inviting but spells danger, called Preyah. The Leader’s dilemma is between Short term Reward and Long term Good. Also he/ she has to choose between immediate personal Glory and delayed but durable success of the Team. In every such predicament, that which brings sustained benefit to the masses, has to be the definitive choice of the Leader, guides the Upanishad!
Ponder how, you as a Leader, have been performing in making these choices in the last year!
दृष्टानुश्रविकविषयावितृष्णस्य वशीकारसज्ञा वैराग्यम्।।
Patanjali YogSutras 1.15
That, which comes to those who have gained freedom from (worldly) objects – either seen or heard ; and also wills to control those objects – (indeed) is non attachment!
The great Acharya of Yog, one of the early Gurus of Self Mastery, teaches Leaders, the value of dispassion
Patanjali clearly conveys the value of objectiveness, neutrality and detachment in the practise of Leadership. The Leader: 1. Should examine one’s current level of attachment to material objects 2. Work assiduously towards single minded focus on purpose and 3. Through discipline and rigour, as well as with the help of mentors, learn to weaken the strings of attachment. The Leader is merely the trustee of power and possessions, who constantly works on keeping it so!
Take stock of your own self control – “how difficult is it for me to give up my indulgence in sense objects”?
श्लोकार्धेन प्रवक्ष्यामि यदुक्तं ग्रन्थकोटिषु। परोपकारः पुण्याय पापाय परपीडनम्
In half a Shloka, I shall declare what has been told in crores of scriptures – Benefiting others leads to (great) merit and causing harm to others leads to (great) misfortune.
This proverb lends great meaning to the actions of the Leader.
This valuable insight is an every – minute guide for the Dharm of the Leader – simply put, that which is for the sustained greater good is always the right action; anything which is
~ Short term oriented
~ Only to the Benefit of a select few or
~ Not aligned to a greater cause, is to be avoided
As a Leader, are your actions always well considered – driven by the larger good?
नैकः पश्येच्च कार्याणि वादिनो श्रृणुयादवचः। रहसि च नृप प्रासः सभ्याश्चैव कदाचन।।
The Leader dispensing justice, should not meet one (of the disputing parties), nor examine the case, privately; it should (always) be done publicly!
The great Acharya Shukr, one of the earliest masters of Neetishaastra teaches Leaders the value of impartiality here.
The Acharya clearly conveys the value of transparency, authenticity and neutrality in the treatment of conflict, which he/ she is expected to resolve . The Leader : 1. Should never give undue importance to any one side 2. Should not even be perceived as according any preference to any of the parties involved and 3. Must build trust in the process of resolution, in the entire organization. We are reminded that the Leader is the custodian and upholder of the highest values and principles of justice!
Take feedback courageously and proactively – are you perceived as an unbiased and fair Leader?