A website based on Radhanath Swami's Leadership Lessons

What is ‘spiritual’ about Leadership?

“The problem with the rat race is even if you win it, you still remain a rat” -   an American saying

What is spiritual about LeadershipLeadership appears attractive; we often see leaders surrounded by fans and ‘yes’ men. But few are aware of what happens behind the scenes. Although externally smiling and basking on the glory that comes his way, a leader centred on superficial principles would be miserable; in the inner recesses of his heart, he’s busy fighting and scheming against his detractors, and will have to constantly struggle to keep his position. A leader grounded on spiritual principles however doesn’t take the adoration seriously; he knows the world could be nasty, and by the power of time, praises could turn to criticisms; glory to infamy; and in an instant, success could change to failure.

You are a ‘spiritual leader’ when you don’t take the leadership title seriously, rather the responsibilities of a leader become your mission in life. You are attached to service, and not the position or perquisites that follow the rank and laurels of a leader.

 

What’s wrong with the external glamour?

But one may wonder, “What’s wrong in wanting to be popular or wealthy?” There’s nothing wrong but when that becomes the sole purpose of our existence, we get attached to these external situations which by nature are temporary. Since we base our existence on these ephemeral goals, when we either lose them or are threatened by some other popular or wealthy figure, we break down.  Our extrinsic struggle for wealth, name and fame of this world has an accompanying baggage of stress induced disorders, besides the unhealthy legacy that we leave behind for the future leaders.

A spiritual leader may also have some material ambitions but he’s ‘spiritual’ because his drive doesn’t cross the line of sacred ethics and eternal principles; when you do cross that line, it’s no longer ambition; it’s simply greed. If we fail to centre our lives on unchanging principles and repeatedly deviate from them, it isn’t anymore ‘love’; it’s plain lust. And it’s not enthusiasm or passion; it’s just recklessness.

But isn’t life a struggle for existence; after all it’s ‘survival of the fittest’?

 

The internal struggle

In this world, even the fittest don’t survive. One of the biggest false propagandas of this world is ‘it’s a scarce world’. A spiritual leader however thrives on ‘abundance mentality’- ‘there’s enough in this world for everyone’s nourishment’. A scarcity mentality on the other hand pushes one to be a go-getter because such a person assumes there’s scarcity in this world and only a grabber shall survive. If however we cultivate an ‘abundance mentality’, while meeting our needs dutifully, we’ll be more focussed on serving others, and struggling internally to live by undying principles.

There are two kinds of struggles in this world. A popular leader opts for the ‘external’ struggle whereas a spiritual leader focuses on the ‘internal’. Winning the external struggle, by either getting the prized contract or cutting down your competitor to size does give fleeting happiness, but it’s more of a passing titillation to the senses. However the agony and pain this causes to the heart is real and lasts often a life time. On the other hand, one pursuing an internal struggle finds joy and meaningful purpose to life simply by making an attempt to align his life on revered principles. Being conscious of his dark side, he sincerely endeavours and prays to be rid of them; the actual victory over his lower nature humbles him. And in practising humility, he also finds deep contentment. This in turn helps a leader be considerate to others’ weaknesses and shortcomings.

A considerate leader then becomes popular with his team members; for everyone in this world seeks to be understood and loved. Thus a leader grounded on ‘internal’ spiritual principles also achieves the external success and popularity. But the critical difference now is by focussing on the inner journey, one achieves worldly fame as an insignificant by-product. The real success is in being a leader of substance; as the shadow of worldly recognition shines and fades, it doesn’t really matter.

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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 14 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Citra Gopi DD says:

    Developing a sense of humility really assists when dealing with popularity. We may be humbled in the presence of others but we must feel humble in the presence of God.

  2. Kalpana Kulkarni says:

    Wonderful explanation of what should be the right attitude of a true Leader. Normally leaders are on the look out for name, fame, prestige and power and are really not bothered about service to people or the public. They are more interested in their own self aggrandisement. But true leaders who are on the spiritual platform are not interested or swayed by either praise or defamation. they remain committed to their service. Thank you for the wonderful article.

  3. anand says:

    How often have we seen and experienced leaders who are external are fickle and temperamental. Unfortunately, the common man are attracted to such temperamental and superficial leaders who bask in their vain glories. This articles focuses what it really means to be a leader which of course is rooted in spiritual values! Well written. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Anand says:

    I admired the idea “You are a ‘spiritual leader’ when you don’t take the leadership title seriously, rather the responsibilities of a leader become your mission in life. You are attached to service, and not the position or perquisites that follow the rank and laurels of a leader”.
    This is what real spiritual personalities do while guiding others on path of spirituality. Very wonderful article that is very much applicable to todays age.

  5. Priya says:

    Thanks for bringing our attention to this aspect. Its interesting to know how spirituality changes the face of everything even something like leadership. Never before I thought that spirituality impacts leaders and their leadership.

  6. Vikram says:

    One of most misunderstood terms in todays world is Leadership. I am not sure how many people out there do know what it actually means…maybe for them it just means POWER to EXPLOIT.

    Good Explanation…wish today’s corporate houses inculcate some of these value systems.

  7. BALKRISHAN ARORA says:

    Radhanath Swami teaches true spiritual leadership because he teaches that the drive should not cross the line of sacred ethics and eternal principles.

  8. manish says:

    Its interesting to know how spirituality changes the face of everything even something like leadership.

  9. Sumit says:

    One of the most technical article i have read to understand the real leadership..
    Thank you for sharing.

  10. Ankit Patel says:

    Thus a leader grounded on ‘internal’ spiritual principles also achieves the external success and popularity. But the critical difference now is by focussing on the inner journey, one achieves worldly fame as an insignificant by-product. The real success is in being a leader of substance; as the shadow of worldly recognition shines and fades, it doesn’t really matter.

  11. Jitendra Pardeshi says:

    Spiritual aspect of leadership has to do with abundance mentality, being attached to the responsibilities and services rather than to the post, being considerate to others and most importantly being grounded internally on spiritual principles. Thank you.

  12. BALKRISHAN ARORA says:

    Radhanath Swami is so very spiritual and therefor his leadership is so very perfect.

  13. swapnil dhok says:

    Leadership is tool to elevate people to god conciouseness.

  14. Kalpana Kulkarni says:

    Wonderful article on what is real leadership and how we should not run after name and fame which is temporary but concentrate more on character and substance.

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