As a leader, the best way to build credibility and gain the respect of others is to set the right examples. Demonstrate the behavior that you want people to follow. Here are a few insights from Bhaartiya Shaastras which will provide you an excellent way to develop our Leadership influence. However, you must be willing to turn the search light within
इदं नम ऋषिभ्यः पूर्वजेभ्यः पूर्वेभ्यः पथिकृद्भ्यः ॥
Rig Ved X.14.15
Our adoration and veneration to the Seers; the early visionaries; those who lived before us; and created the divine path for us (to walk)
This ancient message is a powerful one for Leaders and Managers to recognize: that there have been millions of visionaries and path makers before us – they are the giants, on the shoulders of whom we stand today, no matter which field we are in.
This is especially true for Indian wisdom, with thousands of years of Life lessons available for us to draw from, for every stage, phase and circumstance of life. This selection is from the oldest scripture of Humankind that teaches us to live with gratitude!
उत्तिष्ठत जाग्रत प्राप्य वरान्निबोधत।
Arise, be awake; (and actively) attain the great (goal)!
This ancient shlok from the Upanishad is the one, which moved Swami Vivekananda to inspire India and the world. We know it as “Arise, Awake and stop not till the Goal is reached!”
The first two words of the Shlok are much deeper in meaning than their translation. This selection from the sacred scriptures teaches us to not pursue goals without understanding the larger purpose. They should be part of a purpose that elevates us and realises our divine potential in their accomplishment! These are the real stretch targets.
य उ स्वयं वहते सो अरं करत्।
Rig Ved 5.44.8
As is one’s exertion, so is the accomplishment of the goal
We had an earlier verse from Kathopanishad where Swami Vivekananda was urging us to work for a higher purpose! Then, we saw how the output depends – on input offered, in the Yajna of work.
This verse from the Rigved, combines the two themes – and tells us that: what we accomplish is merely a function of our OWN efforts! The complete ownership and responsibility of meaningful and maximum outcomes does not lie with our Manager, but with ourselves. Be inspired and get going. Lofty goals and passionate efforts yield great outcomes, just as all our ancestors showed!
अव स्थिरा तनुहि भूरि शर्धतां।
A steady mind and a strong body are essential to strive (for the goal) with Boldness.
Having spoken about several intangibles, we now also speak about an important tangible – health of our complete being.
This is a beautiful nudge from RigVed – towards Wellness, as we refer to it now. We are reminded that all achievement depends on human energy which comes from health of mind and strength of body. These are the ingredients of the capacity to succeed – to deliver the higher purpose!
कालं नियम्य कार्याणि ह्याचरेन्नन्यथा क्वचित् ।।
Shukra Niti 3.296
All work should be done following (complete) discipline of time. This should not be contravened (ever)
Now we start paying attention to various resources, the Leader has, at hand – the first one is time. This receives incredible amount of attention in Neetishaastr
The lesson being taught is that time is to be viewed preciously, just as wealth! Understanding this, every living moment of the Leader should be cherished, thought out and utilized most effectively – towards goals!
As a Leader, reflect on how many hours are not focused towards your purpose.
ॐ नमः शम्भवाय च, मयोभवाय च, नमः शंकराय च, मयस्कराय च ,नमः शिवाय च, शिवतराय च
Salutations to the source of happiness and the source of my delight; Salutations to the source of peace and of love; Salutations to the source of purity and of excellence.
Who is venerable as a Leader – the sacred Yajurved describes this very beautifully – each one needs to understand what is expected!
The Yajurved says “source of” repeatedly – so the Leader needs to groom team members to develop the qualities of lasting happiness, mindfulness, affectionate teamwork, pure character and above all, excellence. This does not mean the Leader only being nice, rather to use various ways to demonstrate these first, and then cultivate them in others!
Today, do a self-evaluation: of how your Team members would likely describe you!
इन्दुरिन्द्रो वृषाः हरिः पवमानः प्रजापतिः।
Radiates peace and joy (to the people); possesses inner strength and abundance; demonstrates strength and endurance; alleviates and removes the agonies of people; purifies and develops self and team; such (a person embodying these five) is the preserver and nurturer of people
What are the qualities expected of a Leader – after Yajurved, the RigVed enumerates the Leadership qualities, probably declared for the first time in human civilization !
Note how the five stated dimensions are a great mix of values and actions – what’s developed within the individual, alone can flow outside – to his/ her team and organization!
Today, do a self-ranking of your best qualities and examine if they are related to this group of five!
यस्याश्रितो भवेलोकस्तद्वदाचरित प्रजा।
Shukra Niti 4.3.4
The way the Leader conducts his/ her life, the people start living the same way.
Who is a Leader and what are the qualities were described in last 2 sutras, now the question arises: as to how must he/ she live his/ her life?
The great teacher of Nitishaastr, Shukr, tells the Leader that he/ she must conduct himself/ herself in a way which is superior to how the Leader would like the rest of the Nation/ organization/ community to do. For, that behaviour is likely to be idolized and replicated amongst the followers! No slip is thus permitted in the character of the Leader!
Are you satisfied with the conduct of your team? No? Then scrutinize what exactly is missing in your own conduct!
काच्चिद्राजन्कृतान्येव कृतप्रायाणि वा पुनः। विदुस्ते वीर कर्माणि नानिवाप्नानि कानिचित्।।
(O Leader), do the unfinished works of yours get known (prematurely) to one and all? Do people (get to) know only your accomplished endeavours?
We now learn from a great Guru of ancient times, who offers only questions to the Leader – to probe and provoke Thinking!
The actual message of this Sutra, to the Leader, is to employ prudence, judiciousness and discretion – in all disclosures. In excitement or zealousness, the Leader often declares that which later never reached its end or made bold promises which were not possible to keep or shared that which should not have been revealed. Narad reminds the Leader to speak less and act more; to exercise restraint before accomplishment.
Are you well guarded in your words and expressions? – introspect now!
आत्मनश्च प्रजायाश्च दोषदर्श्युत्तमा नृपः। विनयच्छति चात्मानमादौ भृत्यानस्ततः प्रजाः।।
Shukra Niti 4.1.76
The Leader who can spot his own deficiencies and then those of the populace is considered superlative. Seeking high standards, he gets rid of his deficiencies, then those of his team, and then of the organization!
The great Master Shukra provides the true test of one who considers self a great Leader – not the outcomes, but the ability to examine oneself!
We are provided an excellent way to develop our Leadership influence. Continuing with the idea from last thread, turning the light within, critique yourself and you will see so much missing. First work on those. Then you get the right to correct your team. Only then, you will earn the authority to show others the path to improvement!
उद्धरेदातमनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत। आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मनः||
Bhagavad Geeta 6.5
One should uplift oneself by one’s own efforts and not degrade oneself (at any time); for one’s own self is one’s friend and one’s own self is one’s enemy!
The great Guru Vyaas Rishi shows the Leader the light, on whom to depend – for guidance.
This sacred counsel from the Geeta makes it amply clear that the Leader – is the only one responsible for his/ her actions and for the resultant fruits as well. No one else holds the ownership nor accountability. Having understood this, and being a role model to the populace, he/ she must raise one’s own standards to the highest excellence – in every action, transaction and interaction! How? Use your inner divine guide – the true personal assistant, not an artificially intelligent one.
Do you take time to strengthen your relationship with yourself, every day?
सर्वद्वाराणि संयम्य मनो हृदि निरुध्य च। मूर्ध्न्याधायात्मनः प्राणमास्थितो योगधारणाम।।
Bhagavad Geeta 8.12
Shutting all the doors of the senses; confining one’s mind within oneself; fixing the life-breath within one’s head and remaining steadfast in Yogic concentration!
If ever there was a need for a perfect definition of Mindfulness, then this is it – from the sacred Geeta
This advice from Maharshi Vyas answers the question – how should I practice mindfulness? The answer is – Start with shutting out the sense objects; then bring the mind back into one’s own self, focus on the breath (which carries life currents) and with this being done, use a syllable or Mantr or deity of your faith, to deeply concentrate on – this withdrawal into one’s own inner self is the Yog advised for a True Leader!
Today, in the midst of your hectic day, take a 10 minute break. Then follow the steps listed above to find your own sanctuary!
दधतौ मंगलक्षौमे वसानस्य च वल्कले। ददृशुर्विस्मितास्तस्य मुखरागं समं जनाः।।
Chanakya Sutra 19.9)
The Leader should not belittle any person (ever)!
Chanakya, the great Acharya of Neetishaastra – gives us an insight into “avoidable behaviours”!
This advice from the Acharya is a caution to the Leader in consideration of the fact that situations are dynamic. One who may appear rather insignificant today – any part of the ecosystem – whether employee or customer or other stakeholder, can become the most important one tomorrow. The Leader – 1. Should always think in the long term 2. Recognize that situations are fluid and relationships are dynamic 3. Treat even adversaries with respect and 4. Most of all, shun any kind of bias towards any individual – the Leader maintains neutrality, respect and decency towards all, declares Chanakya!
Take some time out and think back – 10 years back, what professional position was I in – and who helped me move ahead and who blocked my progress? Now examine the status of self and those same persons at the current time. What do you notice?
सर्वे क्षयान्ता निचयाः पतनान्ताः समुच्छ्रयाः। सम्योगा विप्रयोगान्ताः मरणान्तं तु जीवितम्।।
(Valmiki Ramayan II.106-06)
All accumulations culminate in dissipation; elevations end in crumbling down; unions finish as separations and life itself concludes as death!
The Ramayan, a masterpiece of our Itihaas, teaches detached action, through this Shlok!
Through these words, the great sage Valmiki, reveals that Leadership is a misunderstood phenomenon. Leadership is not control but letting go because nothing worldly will last forever. Leadership is not about authority, but about dispassion because all power is fleeting. Realizing thus, the Leader must always take a distanced view of the trappings of power and pelf in every action. This realization should also bring about even mindedness in both success and failure, declares the Master!
Do this – take stock of the day that went by. Observe the events in your mind’s eye, as if it were a movie. Ask yourself where did I overreact or which situations made me feel strong emotions! What will I do differently tomorrow?
परोपदेशो पाण्डित्यं सर्वेषा सुकरं नृणान।धर्मे स्वीयमनुष्ठानं कस्यचित्तु महात्मनः।।
To be wise in dispensing advice to people is very easy for all (to do); but to be true to the discharge of one’s duties comes only to a few great ones!
Pandit Narayan, the great teacher of Neetishaastra – shows the mirror of Self Awareness to the Leader!
This advice from the Acharya challenges the authority of the Leader in an incisive manner. As a Leader of people, one has tremendous opportunity to guide and even direct people on various matters – but what’s critical is that the Leader –
1. Should look into the mirror and be ruthlessly honest with self about strengths and defects
2. Should admit to self – what sermons do I give which I myself struggle acting upon?
3. Which policies and practices of the organization are outdated now – revisit for both relevance and self practice, declares Narayan!
When did you last meet your last mile employees? Now ask them for advice to you as a Leader – and listen carefully!