Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one! — Marcus Aurelius
A leader driven by principles of dharma (righteousness) is elevated to the platform of spiritual leadership that enables one to be a visionary. King Yudhisthira, an emperor of the Vedic era, was such an exemplary leader. A saintly king, he was the renowned Ajatashatru (one who has no enemies), and in his kingdom reigned real peace and prosperity. Due to his flawless character, his subjects loved him. His true prowess was his unflinching adherence to satya(truth) and dharma, which were more precious to him than royal ambitions and material pursuits.
Excellence in leadership is about creating an environment of trust and credibility as was exemplified in the character of King Yudhishtira. Such excellence in leadership can be built on the firm foundation of the 4 pillars of dharma, i.e. Truthfulness, Mercifulness, Cleanliness, and Austerity.
- Truthfulness is the basic principle of trust based relationships. Relationships are the basis to happiness, either in a corporate environment or in a family. Resorting to untruth or modified-truth to suit our requirement is very easy, but in the process we become less trustworthy—unknown to us. To practice truthfulness may require a conscious and concerted effort. However, once you have practiced and found merit in it, it becomes a way of life.
- Mercifulness forms the foundation of a non-violent approach to business. In today’s world, violence is everywhere—in speech, in action and in peoples’ minds. We criticize people unrestrictedly and we find it increasingly difficult to see positive aspects in others. However, if we want to become enabling leaders, we have to become positive motivators. In this connection, Radhanath Swami says that when we seek the essence in every interaction, i.e. when we look for the positive in every person, we develop a natural compassion for others and we are in a position to understand and help others in a positive manner. Such non-violence of speech, action and mind has a great influence on elevating our consciousness to a higher dimension wherein our vision becomes clear. And when we are seen as a genuinely compassionate leader, greater is our influence!
- Cleanliness in dealings defines business morality. When we are seen as a business house with great moral standards, we evoke high respect and response. To get there, we must begin by striving to purify our consciousness (internal cleanliness). The easiest way is by adapting a lifestyle that promotes a pure conscience. According to all the major scriptures of the world, chanting the holy names of the Lord and study of the scriptures are the two recommended processes to purify and elevate our consciousness. With a little practice, it becomes a way of life and when we conduct our business with the highest ethical and moral standards, the Lord grants us peace of mind as well.
- Austerity of speech, action and thought form the best source of connectedness with higher energy fields. Through them we are propelled to strive for higher goals, as opposed to striving for power, money, prestige, position, control, etc. Austerity means to use speech, action and thought as a means of service for the good of others and limiting its use otherwise. Overall, moment to moment conscious living.
Great leaders are not born, they are made! The character of a person is much like a fine sculpture of marble or stone. The rough and unnecessary sharp edges from the raw material need to be removed. The process involves time, a hammer, and a chisel. Piece by piece the sharp edges are smoothened. If the stone or marble could ‘feel’, it would not be a pleasant feeling to have parts of it removed so harshly. Similarly, building ones character is a struggle, but if we persevere with the end goal in mind, we will be blessed with unimaginable fortune—the mettle which great leaders are made of will be ours too!
“Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are to some extent a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece—by thought, choice, courage and determination.”— John Luther