The role of a Leadership is tough one, the methods don’t have to be harsh. Leadership is no lesser than Yog. Everything that is expressed or done has to be merely a demonstration of the Purpose. Some of the powerful insights here would help you take that journey of Introspection
मुहूर्तं ज्वलतो श्रेयो न तु धुमयितुं चिरम।
(It is)Better to flame forth (brightly) but for an instant; than to smoke away (gradually) forever.
Through the masterpiece of human behaviour that is Mahabharat, Vyaas Rishi conveys an inspiring message to Leaders.
Focus on bringing brilliance to every moment – through accomplishment – rather than settling for life long mediocrity, we are told! The Leader is a role model for excellence and has to maintain it so – including setting superlative standards for employees, and thus the organization.
How would you set ripples of excellence among your team than accept mediocre servitude?
मृदुना मार्दवं हन्ति मृदुना हान्ति दारूणम। नासाध्यं मृदुना किञ्चित् तस्मात् तीक्ष्णतरो मृदुः।।
The gentle conquer the pliant; the gentle conquer the violent (too); there is nothing that gentleness cannot conquer; gentleness is the most penetrating (virtue).
Through the compendium of human behaviours, which is Mahabharat, Vyaas Rishi gives a most valuable lesson to Leaders.
Though the role of Leadership is a tough one, the methods don’t have to be harsh – quite the opposite. The Leader needs to always find the gentler alternative to accomplish anything. There is always one – and that wins over people.
What would you do today to change one thing to a gentler approach ?
याद्वाचानभ्युदितं येन वागभ्युद्यते। तदेव ब्रह्म त्वं विद्धि नेदं यदिदम् उपासते।।
That which is not expressed through speech but that due to which speech is expressed; therefore know – That alone is the Supreme, nothing that you worship here.
This counsel is most vital for the Leader – everything that is expressed or done has to be merely a demonstration of the Purpose – the higher good. The Leader may respect, value and hold dear many things but they are all secondary to the purpose.
What then is the Purpose? Seva (devoted service) of the customers and employees. Revisit your purpose today.
The Leader of the people should be one of a pure nature (and who can spread piety among all).
Now that we have spoken about purpose, attributes, resources, we come to quality of thoughts, which guide the actions of the Leader.
This insight from RigVed – is a reminder that all actions emerge from the beliefs, values and character of the Leader – he/ she has to work on self daily to purify the mind. There are constant influences which pollute the mind. There is a lot of essential self work required – through contemplation, introspection, reading the scriptures and being in touch with Gurus.
What is your method of purifying your own mind to free it of conflicts?
विनयमूलो दण्डः प्राणभृतां योगक्षेमावहः।।
Kautilya Arthashaastra 1.5.2
Governance, (only) when rooted in self discipline, brings security and well being – to all living beings.
This piece of advice, about Vinay, is core to Neeti Shastra – the science of Leadership.
If the Leader wants to bring success and growth to the organization, the organization has to have a culture of professionalism, reliability and customer focus. All this has to flow from the Leader; the Leader needs to exemplify discipline in every action of his/ hers, which in turn is the product of a rigorously trained mind.
Can you declare that you are the model of self discipline for your people – if not, take action Today.
षड् दोषाः पुरुषेणेह हातव्या भूतिमिच्छता। निद्रा तंद्रा भयं क्रोध आलस्यं दीर्घसूत्रता।।
A person, desiring welfare (of all) in this world, should abandon these six faults (in action): sleepiness, slothfulness, feebleness, anger, idleness and procrastination.
Narayan Bhat tells us what the mind of the Leader should renounce completely, to get work done.
This counsel from Hitopadesh clearly says that the welfare of the stakeholders, being the responsibility of Leader – he/ she should willingly forsake all these which either cause delays in action or in the worst case, make action itself impossible.
Introspect now – which of these six flaws often control me and make a plan to overcome them.
विषय सुखं दुःखवत परित्यज्यं।।
Yogasara Upanishad – 9
Whichever object is giving you pleasure (now), the same object will give misery – (having understood so), abandon it.
This counsel is one more popular theme of the mindset of the Leader, in all of Indian wisdom – that of conscious dispassion.
The Leader ought to know that indulgence is not for him/ her – it merely serves to distract from one’s purpose. Hence the Leader has to develop an attitude of dispassion towards “sense objects.” They cannot be avoided, but they need not be entertained – this has to be practised consistently.
Self evaluate your attitude towards objects of pleasure – are you able to let go easily?
यच्छक्षं ग्रसितुं पुंया, ग्रस्तं परिणमेच्च यत्। हितं च परिणामे यत् तदाद्यं भूतिमिच्छता।।
One who is desirous of one’s well being, should eat only that which can easily be ingested; having been eaten, which can easily be digested; and when digested, proves beneficial in its outcomes.
This Sutra from Panchatantra, though seemingly unusual, is a valuable counsel of Neetishaastra, pertaining to personal well being.
This advice has practical insight for the Leader – for organizational purpose to be accomplished, the (boundless) energy of the Leader is vital. This in turn is based on physical and even more, his/ her mental and emotional health. The primary source of this health is food. So Sri Vishnusharman has provided counsel through the sequence – which is about eating mindfully and eating only for nourishment (and not for pleasure). Observe how beautifully the words connect even the act of eating to Leadership!
As a Leader, do you put thought into every act? Are you conscious of the qualities of the food you consume? Introspect now
बुद्धिर्यस्य बलं तस्य निर्बुद्धेस्तु कुतो बलम्।वने सिंहो मदोन्मत्तः शशकेन निपातितः।।
Chanakya Neeti 10.16
Brain power is the mightiest power; without it, what edge does mere physical strength have? Remember how the haughty lion in the jungle was destroyed by the (clever) rabbit.
The great Acharya of Governance, Chanakya sounds caution to the Leader, with respect to arrogance raising its dangerous head.
Chanakya and Vishnusharma come together in this Sutra, where we are told about the importance of sagacity and sharpness in the Leader. The reminder of the story from Panchatantra tells us – 1. Usage of the intellect is superior to brute force 2. Humility enables the intellect to stay clear 3. Value every person, says Chanakya.
As a Leader, make an inventory of your areas of improvement today.
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 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?
तत्रैकाग्रं मनः कृत्वा यतचित्तेन्द्रियक्रियः। उपविश्यासने युञ्ज्याद्योगमात्मविशुद्धये।।
Bhagavad Geeta 6.12
And occupying that seat, concentrating the mind, restraining the mind and senses, he should practise Yog for self purification.
The great Guru Vyaas Rishi once again shows the Leader the light, on what is the experience – of the hot seat of Leadership.
This sacred counsel from the Geeta declares – that Leadership is no lesser than Yog – the position brings with it successes and setbacks, allies and rivals, joys and sorrows, a crown of thorns… But knowing this, and being a role model to the organization, he/ she must still focus all senses and energies within! Raising one’s consciousness, the Leader has to discharge all responsibilities with stoicness.
Do you treat your Leadership role as a divine responsibility?
आकारसदृशप्रज्ञः प्रज्ञया सदृशागमः। आगमैः सदृशारम्भ आरम्भसदृसोदयः।।
As was his (lofty) form, so was his (brilliant) intellect; as was his intellect, so was his (imposing) emergence; as was his emergence, so were his efforts (in efficient governance); as were his efforts, so was his rise to success.
The renowned teacher poet Kalidas here weaves together some beautiful words on the Leader’s path to success.
While he describes King Dilip of Raghukul here, Kalidas explains the sequence.The Leader pays attention to growing a healthy and strong body, within it is developed a sharp and wise mind – these are the equipment to take ownership of one’s purpose and align all efforts in that direction, through self and the Team. The poet has enumerated these 4 steps for the Leader.
Are you preparing yourself for the long haul of Leadership through your body – mind – intellect and spirit?
सर्वभूतस्थमात्मानं सर्वभूतानि चात्मानि। ईक्षते योगयुक्तात्मा सर्वत्र समदर्शनः।।
(Bhagavad Geeta 6.29)
The Yogi (self conquered Leader), united in identity with divine consciousness and in a vision of unity of all, perceives himself/ herself in all beings, as also all beings, in oneself.
We revisit the Geeta where Guru Vyaas Rishi reveals to us the character of a great Leader.
Having already told us earlier that Leadership is no lesser than Yog – he now reveals that the epitome of Leadership is to be able to view every being, exactly the way one views himself/ herself. This, no doubt, is difficult, but with great self awareness and consistent practice, one can get to experience it! This very ideal of Geeta inspired Gandhiji into his most frugal living – we too can begin right now.
Ask yourself, do I hold different standards for others than for myself?
अज्ञेभ्यो ग्रन्थिनः श्रेष्ठाः ग्रन्थिभ्यो धारिणो वरः। धारिभ्यो ज्ञानिनः श्रेष्ठाः ज्ञानिभ्यो व्यवसायिनः ।।
Greater than the ignorant are those who have read books of knowledge; still greater are those, who have memorized them; greater still are those who have understood their (true) meaning; but the greatest or best are those who have (constantly) put them to practice.
Having read so much about various dimensions of Leadership in this series, Rishi Manu persuades us to self evaluate.
This insight from ManuSmriti – is a reminder of the hierarchy of knowledge. There is an explosion of knowledge in this age and the Leader is often expected to be thorough in many domains – but accumulation of knowledge is no test of Leadership – there is a lot more essential self work required – through contemplation, introspection, application, seeking feedback and self analysis, says Manu.
How are you developing your abilities to put your own knowledge to test?
इन्द्रियाणि हयनाहुः विषयांस्तेषु गोचरान्।आत्मेन्द्रियमनोयुक्तं भोक्तेत्याहुर्मनीषिणः।।
The senses, they say, are horses; the sense objects are the roads the horses take. When the Self is one with the body, senses and the mind, such (alone) is the true enjoyer, say the wise.
This recurring theme of the Leader as a Yogi emphasizes its importance for the benefit of the organization.
The true Leader is one who is extremely self aware and mindful of every moment. He/ she then ensures that his/ her senses, mind and body do not run away in different directions. A high performing Leader has all faculties focused in a single direction – that of one’s Purpose.
What then is the Purpose? Seva (devoted service) of the customers and employees. Revisit your actions today – are they adding up to accomplishing the same?