Increasingly, leadership gurus graciously accept the close link between leadership and service. New books on leadership drag into spotlight corollaries of a previously ignored simple truth of life—that we can do the most good to ourselves by doing good to others.
Back in 2005 when Radhanath Swami was invited by Cornell University to be the keynote speaker for a seminar on leadership, he chose to speak on “Servant Leadership.” Towards the end of Radhanath Swami’s address, a student queried, “How do we know when we are ready to be a leader?” Radhanath Swami replied, “Our aspiration should be to serve. Leadership is just a wonderful opportunity to serve. We shouldn’t be attached to the position of a leader. We should be attached to the service that we can render as a leader.” Leaning forward, he continued, “Sometimes people don’t have any inclination to be a leader, but because of their selfless service others put them in the position of leadership.” He chuckled. “Yes. Sometimes the one most qualified to be a leader doesn’t want to be a leader.”
In a matter-of-fact tone, Radhanath Swami had relegated the concept of leadership to the backstage, leaving the mood of servitude alone occupying the limelight. One could hear the audience wondering, is the seminar on leadership or on servitude?
While most leaders grant servitude the status of a useful tool for effective leadership, a leader deeply grounded in spirituality considers leadership a useful tool for effective service. And ironically, this paradigm shift makes such a person the most effective leader. How? To grasp the full impact of this change of attitude, think of leaders who have substantially affected your life. It could be the President of your country or your immediate boss at office. Wouldn’t you feel more secure if they played their leadership roles—selflessly? Wouldn’t your feelings for them evolve to love—from reverence, fear or hate—if they desired your benefit—selflessly?
A spiritualist’s exclusive focus on service stems from his or her deep conviction that only service can give real happiness. Accumulation of any kind could satisfy the mind or the ego, but not the heart. The heart is on a crusade for love, and love is all about service. A spiritualist’s mission therefore is to fine-tune the desires of the mind and the ego—that now desire wealth, prestige or position—to match the desires of the heart, which always desires nothing but selfless service and love. This fine-tuning is made possible by determined spiritual practices, technically called sadhana in Vedic spirituality. In Vedic India every prince underwent rigorous sadhana prior to ascending the throne. This ensured that the King, during his regime, heard and followed the cry of his heart for selfless service.
Today the world needs such selfless servants in the garb of leaders—more than ever before.Google+