A website based on Radhanath Swami's Leadership Lessons

From Efficiency to Effectiveness

“We often love things and use people when we should be using things and loving people.”
– Howe

A successful leader relates to human beings differently from the way he or she attempts to solve a computer problem or a car breakdown. The human psyche is not designed to function in a robot like fashion. Although we may work diligently for hours, and be tough with ourselves and others, deep within, each soul seeks to love and be loved.  Although men and women today are highly career oriented, and work hard for money, inside the hard shell of an ambitious go getter is a soft, tender heart that’s looking for appreciation, encouragement, and reciprocation.  When it comes to human systems, a leader has to be sensitive to the needs of others and seek lasting solutions to problems. At such times efficiency becomes secondary; the report maybe delayed, deadlines not met and you may incur a higher financial cost. However an effective leader while seeking to always improve efficiency also invests on people and this leads to sustainable efficiency in the long run. A leader is efficient in managing things; but with people, he or she prefers to be effective.

Efficiency and Effectiveness

Efficiency refers to doing things right; effectiveness has more to do with doing the right things. Efficiency focuses on the ‘means’; effectiveness deals with the ‘end’. A leader is a visionary who wouldn’t seek great results in the short term at the cost of future instability. Spiritual leadership recognizes human resources to be most precious, and seeks to invest in people first. A spiritually trained leader does give importance to efficiency, knowing this comes with rigorous discipline. However such a leader is careful to avoid the resultant inflexibility and rigidity from creeping into the organization.  He or she is flexible and adapts to the changing environment without compromising on the principles. Radhanath Swami’s approach in creating a vibrant spiritual community in downtown Mumbai has more to do with caring for people than building super efficient systems. The systems followed when his people were inspired. Radhanath Swami instructed his students during the early stages of the Mumbai project, “A humble sincere offering for the upliftment of humanity and service of God will please God more than great unbelievable projects created for money and prestige. A simple, devotional character is what God ultimately sees.”

Man and MachinesWhen a leader attempts to be efficient with people the same way as he or she is with things and systems, the results can be disastrous. Efficiency by definition seeks to use the lowest amount of inputs to create the greatest amount of outputs. As a leader you may be tempted to invest the least amount of time on people- after all time is precious and scarce- and desire maximum possible results from them. Your expectations are most likely to be frustrated for humans don’t respond the way the machines produce.


A Lesson from Ashram Life

I learnt my lessons the hard way. Radha Gopinath MonasteryOur ashram has more than hundred residents and our day is packed with various services involving cleaning, community prayers, classes and group discussions on scriptural study, guest reception and more. We have different managers and systems to ensure smooth functioning of the monastery. I was once overseeing the services of a group of fifteen residents, one of whom had been neglectful of his responsibilities, and I was given the job of giving him a feedback. I thought since I had more pressing things to do, I should get the correction job done in five minutes. I meticulously follow a weekly planner; I decided the day and marked 5-10 minutes for reprimanding him. On the appointed day I saw him alone occupied in a task. I thought I could quickly wrap up the matter and then busy myself with other things I need to do. I went up to him hurriedly and said he needs to improve, and the management feels he’s been careless in his duties. No sooner had I said that, he angrily blurted out, “you guys are isolated from the real ashram. You live in a make believe world and are pathetically unaware of my services and challenges. I am disgusted with you.” I instantly knew I had blundered but my passionate instinct got the better of me; I downloaded the evidences that the management had gathered about his non performance. This infuriated him more and he rattled off the statistics he had about our lack of credibility. The planned five minutes went on for half an hour and the conversation was getting intense and heated. Meanwhile I had to attend another meeting and I excused myself assuring him I’d meet him later. We met the following three days and sought clarifications and counter clarifications. A week later both of us had sobered up; finally I apologized for my insensitive dealings, and he too was honest to admit his mistakes and promised to improve. What I thought was an easy five minute job eventually took more than five hours. For the next few weeks, I met him often and reaffirmed my affection and love for him. He was pacified and our relationship revived.

Months later as we informally recalled the event, he confessed that during that period he was indeed shirking responsibilities, but that’s because he was treated badly and his suggestions were disregarded completely by the team manager. Moreover the correction I thrashed on him was improper. He honestly said if I’d been more sensitive in my admonishment and if I had also heard his concerns, he’d have accepted the reproach more easily. I realized if I had spent quality half an hour that evening with him understanding his needs and concerns, the issues could have been resolved more amicably. Now it had taken weeks to convince him, make amends, and revive the relationship.

The incident set me thinking about my priorities as a manager; I can’t afford efficiency at the cost of sacrificing my long term goal of being a servant leader. My aspiration is to serve the monks who have joined our spiritual organization for rendering selfless service. My life’s mission is to please them but I realized in the passion of getting things done, I was charting a different course. I then asked serious questions to myself on what really are my goals; if I want to serve the monks I need to withdraw from the fast paced life and also ask deep questions on what steps I need to take for realizing this goal.

Discovering the Balance

I had been fascinated by the award winning entrepreneur and author Jim Randel whose ‘skinny on’ book series set me thinking about my priorities. He exposed the lacunae in my leadership service when he pointed out how most managers avoid the uncomfortable process of analyzing their dreams and goals by keeping themselves busy. “We strive to become efficient at what we are presently engaged in – whether or not those activities are moving us anywhere near where we want to go. By staying busy, we are too preoccupied to ask the hard questions and making the tough decisions.”

I knew to be effective in the long run, I have to ask the difficult questions to myself; can I afford expediency over long term team building? Is efficiency worth the effective loss of friends? I knew both efficiency and effectiveness are important for any organization to flourish but as a spiritual seeker, I had to take the call on discovering a balance.

Now as I introspect on Radhanath Swami’s leadership lessons, I see he’s grounded on people over projects. He revealed his vision for the Mumbai project, “What will it take for each and every member of our community to be enlivened, inspired, and protected so that they could practise active spiritual life centred on selfless service to God and humanity till the day they die. We seek to facilitate systems to achieve this goal. This is our mission”

Radhanath SwamiI figured out that the natural stewardship role taken up by the project leaders in Mumbai, in the mood of a humble instrument in the hands of God, is percolating downwards; most members in this community have imbibed this spirit of service. Radhanath Swami once pointed to us that one of the most efficient managers of our community has been Sahadev das and his family. He revealed how this family is involved in most of the projects, yet always unassuming, and in the background. No one notices them; in fact many new members aren’t even aware of their existence and their contribution. I knew the family and I concurred with Radhanath Swami on his observation. Since the family only serves and puts others in front- the ideal servitude and cooperative mood- all other members have subconsciously imbibed the mood. The family members are certainly efficient; but they are one step higher. By appreciating others’ services and not seeking credit and glory for themselves, they are contributing actively to create an effective foundation of selfless service for the long run. Competitiveness and egoistic clashes is nipped in the bud when effective leaders like Sahadev das are free from it. When the leader only wants to serve others with love and affection, the other team members by default inherit the virtue.

As I reflect more on the role of caring for people, I realize I’ve a long way to go in being an effective servitude leader. Till then and beyond, my pure aspirations to serve and care will determine the effectiveness of my service; this mood alone will lend substance and meaning to my life.

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About the Author

About the Author: A senior monk and a leader at the Radhagopinath Ashram, a monastery in Mumbai guided by Radhanath Swami, Vrajabihari Das is a board member of the CSV, a Council that provides spiritual vision to the Ashram. Also a prolific writer, he is a regular contributor to Back To Godhead, an international magazine on spirituality. And on the web, he blogs on krishnayoga.info and radhanath-swami.net Venugopal topped Mumbai University in International Finance during his Masters. He then did his MBA. Though a flourishing career awaited him, he chose to become a monk, so as to dedicate his life for the welfare of society. And sure enough, Venugopal today serves as a lifestyle counselor for hundreds in India. His spiritual wisdom and genuine compassion flows freely, irrespective of whether he is counseling, discoursing or writing. .


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There Are 76 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Girish says:

    Wonderful. Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  2. himanshu bhatt says:

    A successful leader loves people and uses things to enhance that love. what an understanding…hari bol

  3. saurabh says:

    Amazing article. thank you very much

  4. dhananjay says:

    I liked the statement: Efficiency refers to doing things right; effectiveness has more to do with doing the right things.

    hh rnsm you are doing the real welfare work .

  5. vsk says:

    Such hard hitting article that brings one back from the comfort zone of so called spirituality and leadership to show where one stands and where one actually should be. Thank you so much prabhu for showing me the mirror.

  6. Abhijit Toley says:

    These leadership articles are gems! Thank you very much!

  7. Radhasangi Devi Dasi says:

    Yes it is true that unless we are sensitive in our dealings with others love and co-operation cannot exist. Thanks to Radhanath Swami's guidance, people coming in contact with him and following his teachings are developing these qualities.

  8. Kiran says:

    Its high time that we should understad the importance of People or Souls rather than as a mere resourse or Head Count. Nice article Pr.

  9. Mritunjaya Sinha says:

    A practical example of how servant leadership works.

  10. Pranjal Dixit says:

    Thank you very much Prabhu ji for this wonderful article. What you have told is true in all situations. People over things is theme which I am able to derive from this article.

  11. Navin says:

    Wonderful article thanks a lot for sharing.

  12. Sunny says:

    super excellent … thank you so much for this most needed insight…

  13. Shyam Mahtani says:

    Wow…this is an eye opener….leadership is complex and people oriented…not project oriented…I have to keep this in mind as I have been so focussed on Project completions at any cost. Thank you for sharing this beautiful experience.

  14. harshad says:

    Amazing article!!!

  15. sajeev says:

    A patient reading of this article and then introspection will hit anyone deep down to veer their consciousness for more care towards people. Thank you Vraj Bihari Prabhu for being open about your experience and to explain to us what Radhanath Swami visions through your realizations….

  16. Anand says:

    I am just dumbfounded reading this article which wonderfully explains about a servant leader. I am sure this kind of explanation will go a long way in helping me to maintain good relations & simultaneously be effective & efficient at both personal & professional level.

    Thank you for taking pains to explain this concept with live examples.

  17. Kalpana Kulkarni says:

    Wonderful article on service. Lot to learn and imbibe. Thank you for sharing

  18. Pravin says:

    “What will it take for each and every member of our community to be enlivened, inspired, and protected so that they could practise active spiritual life centred on selfless service to God and humanity till the day they die. We seek to facilitate systems to achieve this goal. This is our mission”

    what a mission statement …simply wonderful

  19. Abhijit Toley says:

    Putting people before projects – very interesting management message. Of course balance is the key, as the author notes. Very good site this. Thanks.

  20. Hemant says:

    What our leaders should be like….this article really light ups the true leadership qualities

  21. madri says:

    Thank you for sharing this article, beautifully presented worth reading every single day. Every single para and lines are worth quoting and remembering can't thank you enough it was really very helpful article for me.

  22. Advaita & Kalasu says:

    A very nice read. The words of Radhanath Swami quoted in the article really touches the heart and makes a deep impact, “A humble sincere offering for the upliftment of humanity and service of God will please God more than great unbelievable projects created for money and prestige. A simple, devotional character is what God ultimately sees.”

  23. surekha says:

    Hare Krishna…Thank you for such a nice article about leadership qualities. This article clearly how a leader should spend time with his team members and love them in order to make them work effectively. And HH Radhanath swami is a perfect example of being a leader.

  24. vishvesh Jogalekar says:

    nice article thank you for sharing.

  25. Milind M Churi says:

    This is very nice article wherein reader gets proper insight about how a nice leadership can grow in a very simple but effective way.The author pointing out the incidence happened when he was handling group of fifteen residents in monastry is very educative.Also a very important point which we can learn from it is that as a human being,we have diffrent syche.Therefore leaders in human society should not treat their counterparts as machine or system,which may become disasterous.I also liked HH.Radhanath Swamiji's Management lessons through spirituality and an example of selfelss leader Sahadev.Thank you very much for such a nice article with multiple realizations.

  26. Samir Paleja says:

    Nice article. thanks for sharing

  27. Ganesh Gavali says:

    Wonderful article.Thank you very very much.

  28. Hemant Solanki says:

    Hare Krishna Thank you for sharing a wonderful amazing article.

  29. deepak bagla says:

    Thank you prabhu for such a nice article. Its very introspective article and It has really set me thinking. I also wish now to imbibe this attitude more and focus on people

  30. bipin says:

    All Glories To H.H Radhanath Swami Maharaj

    A very profound realization, and worth replicating when we take higher roles of managing people. In course we forget our real role and become a task master which is insensitive to needs of others and lacks empathy.

    Hare Krishna.

  31. Abhijit Toley says:

    This is a really good article. I had never thought of leadership like this before.

  32. Kadamba kanana says:

    Very inspiring article.

  33. Swapnil says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful article

  34. prasad says:

    all glories to gurudev

  35. himanshu bhatt says:

    an effective leader while seeking to always improve efficiency also invests on people and this leads to sustainable efficiency in the long run. A leader is efficient in managing things; but with people, he or she prefers to be effective.wow, what an amazing understanding

  36. mohit bhatt says:

    Efficiency refers to doing things right; effectiveness has more to do with doing the right things.wow, what a profound statement

  37. Abhijit Toley says:

    Radhanath Swami is the perfect example of "people before projects". Most amazingly, his projects are as successful as his followers a happy 🙂

  38. Rahul Gupta says:

    Radhanath Swami Maharaj is indeed a truly amazing leader.

  39. Richa says:

    Thank you Radhanath Swami for such amazing lecture

  40. Kalpana Kulkarni says:

    Superb article!

  41. Y.Raja Shekar says:

    HH.Radhanath Swami Maharaj wonderfully explains the true leadership qualities which make people function efficiently and effectively.

  42. Ganesh Gavali says:

    Amazing.very true.Thank you very much for this article.

  43. Kalyani Ajrekar says:

    Thank you Prabhuji for this beautiful article, and also sharing your experiences in the Brahmacari asram. This is good reference article for all Corporate HR Managers. HH Radhanath Maharaj has followed the footsteps of His Guru Maharaj in not compromising on principles, with that is built a generation of congregation which has a strong yet simple devotional character. Maharaj ensures that the Lord appreciates just that. Individual disciplined and compassionate character will make a good team. And a good team will always be efficient and effective. And finally achieve the goal set by the seniors. Like that Maharaj ensures that Radha Gopinath devotees will be a good team to achieve the final goal of pure devotional service. All glories to dear HH Radhanath Maharaj !!

  44. Piyush Singh says:

    A very useful read. Its very important to understand the difference between dealing with humans and machines. Thank you Radhanath Swami for this pearl of wisdom.

  45. Sumit Sharma says:

    Nice one. Thanks for sharing it.

  46. duruvan says:

    Wonderful post, all glories to Prabhuji. His maturity and honesty speaks volumes of the spiritual stregth gained from Maharsjas blessings.

  47. suresh says:

    Hare Krishna. Thanks lot, very useful article for corporate managers.

  48. Pandu Rangayya Shett says:

    Leading an exemplary life, Radhanatha Swami efficiently made this Radha Gopinatha Mandir Ashram effective. All glories to Radhanatha Swami.

  49. Mahendra says:

    nice article…

  50. Mahendra says:

    “A humble sincere offering for the upliftment of humanity and service of God will please God more than great unbelievable projects created for money and prestige. A simple, devotional character is what God ultimately sees.”

    really nice…

  51. Pankaj says:

    Amazing article… Thank you for sharing!

  52. Sumit Sharma says:

    Thanks for keeping us in the confort zone through this article.

  53. Rajesh says:

    I am really amazed to see how Radhanath swami is so concerned about the people that he does not care for the project if people are at stake.

  54. mukund says:

    Radhanath swami's policy of "putting people over projects" is revolutionary and is the only way to effectively inspire people individually and success is sure to be there. thank you for sharing this wonderful point

  55. Pooja, Singapore says:

    A must read article

  56. Chandrashekar says:

    Really insightful article which makes us go deeper and sensitive in our dealings with others

    Thank you very much prabhuji for so wonderfully explaining the lessons of Radhanath swami Maharaj

  57. rahul says:

    Thought provoking article.

  58. shalini bhat says:

    Guru maharaj is so awesome! Management lessons for the modern Corporate world for todays leaders. Need to take learnings from this article…beautiful

  59. Sumit Sharma says:

    Such a depth this article has. Thanks for sharing it.

  60. shailesh says:

    Maharaj is great boon for entire humanity…

  61. ajinkya says:

    We often love things and use people when we should be using things and loving people.Amazing words .

  62. Rahul Abhay Kamat says:

    Nice article.

  63. Rajendra prasad says:

    We can learn many things from this article like real terms goals of servitude for humanity.Thanks a lot enlightening.

  64. Sumit Sharma says:

    Amazing one. Radhanath Swami alyways stresses upon building the relationships.

  65. Pooja, Singapore says:

    A very apt example for how a effective leader should be. Thanks for sharing

  66. Ganesh Gavali says:

    Outstanding article.Thanks a lot.

  67. Sumit Sharma says:

    Very nice example of how leadership works.

  68. Swapnil says:

    Thank you for nice aricle

  69. Vinayak says:

    Very Inspiring article.

  70. Vinayak says:

    Very Inspiring article. Such Examples help us to view life with a different perspective

  71. anand says:

    the personal story of the author is revealing. i can be hot headed myself and should learn the art of talking and serving. thanks for sharing

  72. surekha says:

    It is clearly explained that "Leader should show love and affection towards the team members to make them work effectively". Thank you Radhanath swami.

  73. bipin says:

    How spiritual practice can lend such important lessons for the modern day leaders to practice is something that will keep us mystified. But our scriptures and their practice under the guidance of a Guru will not only give us such important lessons but give us the treasure for becoming great individuals.

  74. Chandrika says:

    Learning and practicing to be in the present is a crucial turning point in one’s life.

  75. rekha says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful article of good leadership techniques by which the leader can make their teammates in an effective way.

  76. Arvind says:

    Real utilization according to own potentials through this article.

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