The role of a leader is crucial in ensuring the success of any endeavor. As the quote by Dele Ola goes, "A team without a leader is like a ship on a voyage, but without a captain.", a leader sets the mission, vision, purpose, and direction for the team. To lead effectively, leaders need to have a strong moral compass and the willingness to selflessly devote themselves to a higher purpose. Our core values, beliefs, experiences, and influences form our leadership styles.
While my experiences have shaped my leadership style, one of the major influences in my leadership journey has been The Bhagavad Gita (The Gita). Meaning 'the divine song", the Gita is a 700-verse poem in The Mahabharata, an ancient Indian epic, and is believed to have been written between the 5th and 2nd centuries BCE. In the Gita, the god Krishna imparts wisdom to the warrior prince Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra just before the start of a great war. The teachings of the Gita are timeless and have been studied and revered by people from all walks of life for centuries, including leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
One of the main themes of the Gita is the concept of selfless leadership. The Gita teaches that authentic leadership involves integrity, selflessness, and purpose. It also emphasizes the importance of developing a clear understanding of one's values and beliefs and living by them. Here are a few leadership lessons that we can learn from the Gita:
Focus on your duty: In the Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna that he should focus on performing his duty, or dharma, to the best of his ability rather than worrying about the war's outcome. This is because we can't always control the outcome, and trying to control it will only lead to frustration and anxiety. As a leader, it is crucial to stay focused on your responsibilities and do the best job you can rather than getting caught up in trying to control the outcomes of your actions. If we focus our actions on the right intent, the outcome will deliver itself.
Practice selflessness: The Gita teaches that authentic leadership involves acting with selflessness and compassion. This means putting the needs of others before your own and striving to create a positive impact on the world around you. In the Gita, Krishna advises Arjuna to act without attachment to the rewards of his actions and to do so with a sense of detachment and equanimity. This selfless leadership can inspire others and create a positive and harmonious work environment. The role of a leader is to serve their team, not the other way around.
Stay true to your values: The Gita emphasizes the importance of developing a strong sense of self and staying true to your values. Krishna advises Arjuna to act following his dharma, or moral duty, and to be guided by his inner wisdom. As a leader, it is vital to be clear about your values and beliefs and to act according to them. This will help you to inspire trust and respect in those around you.
Develop a sense of purpose: The Gita teaches that authentic leadership involves clearly understanding purpose and direction. Krishna advises Arjuna to focus on his higher purpose, or dharma, and to let that guide his actions. This purpose-driven leadership can create a sense of meaning and direction for those around you and inspire them to work towards a common goal. If the leader can create a strong sense of purpose and intrinsic motivation, half their work is done.
Lead with integrity: The Gita emphasizes the importance of acting with integrity and honesty. Krishna advises Arjuna to be truthful and act compassionately, even in difficult situations. As a leader, it is essential, to be honest, and transparent in your interactions with others and to always act with integrity. This will help you to build trust and credibility with those around you. Acting in this manner removes all ambiguity, and ensures their is trust established between all members of the team.
In conclusion, the Bhagavad Gita offers timeless wisdom on the subject of leadership. By focusing on our duty, practicing selflessness, staying true to our core values, developing a sense of purpose, and leading with integrity, we can inspire and guide those around us to be their best selves.
Credits: ChatGPT wrote the majority of this article based on inputs provided by me. Although I needed to augment it with my words and make grammatical corrections in several places, the engine put together the overall gist of the message.