Transforming through effective leadership

Transforming through effective leadership

Leadership is essentially about evolution, not revolution.

Visionary leaders make things happen. Yet, substantive evolution must precede the revolutions that such leaders trigger, enable and materialize.

Two critical elements are conspicuously missing in current leadership thinking. Firstly, the fact that leadership is always a product of a context rather than a bunch of formulas that have merely to be committed to memory to be effective.

Secondly, leadership is about educating both the leaders and the led. It is a continuous process of learning and unlearning.

Effective leadership combines enduring vision, robust values, clarity of vision and values and a profound understanding of the context or environment. Successful leaders dynamically align these four elements in a conscious and deliberate manner with a view to constantly elevate conversation.

Visionary leaders are firmly wedded to the journey of excellence. For them, excellence is not a destination to "reach" as much as a place to "come from".

They recognize through experience that truth is not a destination but a journey. This is essentially what successful leaders do. They sacrifice their individual egos in favor of a cause infinitely larger than themselves.

Leadership development embraces both the inner and outer spaces. The outer space must focus on the development of the inner space. They must develop in tandem. If it does not, it will lead to ignorance.

This is why Sri Ramana Maharishi, one of India's tallest sages once said: “Illiteracy is ignorance. Education is learned ignorance.” Outer development is gathering knowledge of the external world.

If inner development is about gathering knowledge of the inner world in the form of self enquiry or atma vichara, outer development is about gaining knowledge in the form of loka vichara or knowledge of the phenomenal world.

It is such knowledge that helps in enabling a living. It is education for a living in contrast to inner education which is about education for life.

The former is about acquiring clarity of vision and values and nurturing the qualities of faith, devotion and surrender. The latter is about acquiring skills, competencies and becoming worldly wise.

Outer development is about developing the intellect, while inner development is about developing the heart.

 As Sri Ramana said in another context: The ordinary man lives in the brain unaware of himself in the Heart. The realized soul lives in the Heart.

When he moves about and deals with things, he knows that what he sees is not separate from the one Supreme Reality, the Brahman which he realizes in the Heart as his own Self, the Real. So successful leaders seek to realize themselves. The journey of leadership excellence lies in a relentless effort to realize the Self. Self realization is the key.

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