Awaken the Leader in You Print E-mail

There are different types of leaders - family heads, corporate honchos, social activists, political leaders and spiritual masters. All these need a strong spiritual base as it is the Spirit that lends power. India has an enviable history of Rajarsis – men and women of great power and wealth whose strength came from spiritual enrichment.


There are 11 traits that a leader needs to develop.


1. S/he must not want the position. A leader is first and foremost a servant. His focus must be on serving his followers. Gandhiji, Abraham Lincoln and Churchill were outstanding leaders because they served their people. A good leader has no value for worldly things which are temporary. He pursues higher aims that are more permanent.


2. A leader must be established in higher values, and be able to communicate his vision to the people.


3. A leader must have impeccable character and be above reproach. He must be dedicated to the welfare of his people, not be driven by self-interest! When Swami Vivekananda lost his father and his family were in dire straits he had the choice of serving one family or millions of families. He chose the latter.


4. A leader follows his inner calling, svadharma. Everyone is born with a unique talent. It could be music, engineering or architecture. Identify it and invest your energies in that field. Most people go for where they believe they can make money and live frustrated lives.


5. A leader must follow the clear reasoning of his intellect and not get distracted by whims and fancies of his mind. When there is conflict between the two, intellectual judgement should prevail. Disastrous decisions almost always originate in the mind while good decisions are those that are carefully thought out by the intellect.


6. Hard work is an essential aspect of a leader. Swami Rama Tirtha said, “Intense work is Rest”. There are three types of actions – niyatam or obligatory actions, kamya or desire-driven actions and nisiddha or prohibited actions. Vedanta exhorts you to perform obligatory duties free from attachment. Desist from desires. Once they build up you cross the line of ethics and morality and break the law.


7. A leader must have a higher ideal. Today people work only for the paycheck. There is no vision of a larger ideal. Krsna’s message in the Bhagavad Gita is – Perform action for yajna, sacrifice. The world is bound by non-yajna actions. Yajna is to work in a spirit of service and sacrifice for a higher ideal. It is the foundation of a good leader. Look beyond yourself. Give to gain. Grab you lose.


8. A leader loves his people, feels one with them. This evokes a powerful response from them. Everyone then pitches in and work gets done in a spirit of camaraderie, fun and cheer.


9. Objectivity or sakshi bhava, witness attitude, is an essential pre-requisite of a leader. Take the stand of an actor playing his role. You have a role. Play it to the best of your ability. Wholeheartedly, dispassionately, perfectly. Only then will you be successful. And happy in all situations. You will evolve spiritually.


10. Cultivate the quality of sattva. All humans have three types of gunas or thought textures – sattva pure, rajas passion and tamas apathy. Tamas is inertia and lethargy. Rajas is an agitated state of mind that comes from desires and ego. Sattva is calmness and serenity. A sattvika person is unselfish, creative and effective. A rajasika person blunders through life while a tamasika one is steeped in ignorance.


11. Walk the talk. Lead the way. Live higher values but do not preach. People follow what you do, not what you say.


There is a leadership vacuum these days. Invest in internal enrichment. Get inspired with a higher ideal. Cultivate these qualities. You will become an outstanding leader.