The transcendental leader
A leader is a visionary who inspires her team, guiding, assisting and facilitating where necessary to drive an enterprise towards success. Leaders go beyond the nuts and bolts of accomplishing tasks or managing a team. They are dreamers, thinkers, catalysts of change and much more. And they come in many different types, with their own strengths and weaknesses.
The Mahabharata, one of the greatest epics of war, gives us many great leaders. Spiritualists speak of Lord Krishna as the greatest of them all. This is perhaps because the great Lord brings a dimension to leadership that goes beyond success in the material world. Through example, He guides us to success that transcends into the spiritual realm. He shows us the polarities that are at war within us all: the Ego and the Self.
So let us look at leadership in the material realm of the corporate paradigm and, through this understanding of how to achieve success, move towards ultimate victory in the spiritual one.
Research shows that leadership roles can be broadly classified into four main types :
Strategic leaders are analysts of reality. Objectivity and rational thought are very important to them. They ask the hard questions and are ready to put the vision above the people. They take pride in their knowledge, aspire to wisdom and often stay in the background. But their focus on facts rather than emotion can give the impression of being ‘robotic’. Arriving at decisions takes time for them, as they have a tendency to lean towards perfection.
- Strategic Leadership
- Directive Leadership
- Team Building Leadership
- Operational Leadership
Directive leaders weave the big picture. They paint broad strokes and don’t like to spend much time in the details of the process. As effective speakers have a high motivational capacity and possess the ability to make people feel important. They are great with large groups, but not so much with the individual. A short attention span combined with restlessness means they prefer to take action and may even ignore financial limitations.
The team building leader is all about the people. They're charismatic and enjoy organizing people around a common cause. Their knack for generating high morale receives loyalty and respect from people. But they can also get hurt by people, allowing relationships to hinder progresses. This means that sometimes, they have a tendency to ignore agendas and action plans.
The operational leader is very practical. Devising systems and processes to run things smoothly comes very easily to them, so they bring a lot of stability to their leadership. They can create new solutions to old problems. But they dislike conflict and sometimes fail to see the big picture, a shortcoming which can make them slip into ‘managing’ rather than ‘leading’.
Whatever type of leader you are, however, certain characteristics lie at the root of success. Lord Krishna teaches us what these are. Let us examine a few.
Know yourself. This is the key to becoming a great leader. Which of these four leadership roles best describes you? How can you learn, understand and grow so that you can leveraging your strengths and improve your weaknesses to become better?
Knowing yourself means going beyond understanding personality traits. There is something to you that is transcendental, profound and eternal. Can you see this? The nature of this 'self' is eternal. It is sat. And filled with love. The Self sees all beings as an extension of the great and Supreme Being. It understands the interconnectedness of things. Therefore, when you lead with the Self, you will see the connection between the vision that drives you as a leader and the resources in hand that can efficiently realize that vision.
Going one step further, the Self also understands the meaning of true 'success'. It is not just about the highest profitability or the greatest breakthrough in knowledge. It is not about the clothes or the cars or the large mansions. All such achievements are gone in the blink of an eye when compared to the eternity of existence. Therefore, success, the Self knows, is the realization of that Supreme Love, from which 'maya' or illusion veils us. The Self knows of its connection to the Supreme Being. Our achievements, our profitability and our growth, whether individually or as an enterprise, is therefore not our own, but really the benediction of the Supreme.
Lord Krishna, therefore, tells us to place success where it belongs: as a polarity of failure. Great leaders around the world intuit this. They know that failure can teach many lessons, and use it as an opportunity for growth. When Steve Jobs was fired by the board of directors of Apple, he came back stronger and better than ever, going on to reinvent the company's image and making it one of the most profitable in the world.
Be detached. When you learn to place success and failure as mere polarities of each other, you transcend both. Such transcendence brings detachment : whether I succeed or fail, my duty I must do. Detachment brings with it objectivity, which is crucial when taking tough decisions in the corporate world. Detachment helps you see the bigger picture, uncolored by personal sentiment.
It is the Ego which claims all for itself. It creates an identity called 'I' veiling your true 'self'. This 'I' creates the illusion of an existence separate from the Supreme Being. And it claims all actions, both success and failure, for itself. That means it attaches a setback in the workplace to our very nature, taking away our self worth when we fail to finish a task or meet a deadline. Similarly, it attaches success to our nature, telling us we are worth something because we accomplished what we set out to do. So it tells us, we are worthless when we fail and wonderful if we succeed. Thus the Ego attracts unhappiness and colors our world views.
This 'I' creates boundaries. It takes us away from the interconnectedness of all things. It fails to see the inherent strength and beauty within all beings and wants to 'be the best' at everything. While a competitive spirit is a good thing, ruthless competition can destroy a team. Great leaders unite resources and talent. They do not divide out of fear of being replaced in their jobs.
Nurture people. When you begin to see all people as extensions of the Supreme Being, and thus, connected to you, you will learn to recognize the power and potential of those you lead. Duryodhana failed to realize this. In the Mahabharatha, Lord Krishna posed a choice to both Arjuna and Duryodhana: do you want me or my armies? Arjuna chose the great Lord, while Duryodhana chose His armies. Arjuna knew the power of the Lord and of His wisdom. Ultimately, this is what won the war.
It is our joy to share that one of our Kid Ms. Kusuma, cared and nurtured at Prasanna Jyothi, who is an Engineer in the USA entered into wedlock on 05.11.15. May God bless the newly-wed couple.