It is commonly stated that perhaps those who are best suited to leadership power are those who never seek it. On the other hand, those who have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, find to their own surprise that they wear it well. This process starts as early as our school life, when we become monitors and prefects and are granted significant responsibilities. We learn leadership at a young age. The type of leadership skills we inculcate at that age are important.
Importantly, a good leader, starting at an early age, should inspire and not aspire. Personal aspirations that are regardless (irrelevant) to others always convert a humble and successful leader into a failed one. A good leader should influence, not control – controlling i.e. passing orders, policies, rules, goals, targets, reports, visions and changes to force team members to work the way they believe it should be done; failing to listen or only perfunctorily listening (listening with little interest); exhibiting the “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality and providing inadequate support. Negative thoughts, words, actions or inactions expressing emotions like:
* Why aren’t they performing better?
* What’s wrong with that person?
* Why don’t they know their job?
* They should know their job!
lead team members to believe that leaders disrespect them and do not care for them at all. It results in failure of an organization or the task in hand.
A good leader, before orchestrating (controlling) his team members will learn to orchestrate (control) his inner orchestra of thoughts, feelings, attitudes, emotions, moods and perceptions to create the desired tune or team result. When leaders become dictators or start orchestrating (controlling) their team members first, the fall of the team gets certain. A good leader is characterized by the way he makes his fellow members work as a team with him being a part of it. Misuse of leader power has a negative effect on team members’ perceptions of the leader’s ability and desire to engage in open communication. Because open communication is vital to any project, these perceptions can hurt team performance. These negative effects of leader power can be virtually eliminated simply by clearly communicating the idea that every team member is individually instrumental for any given task at hand.
Traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid”. By comparison, the servant leader shares power and puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. Servant leaders spread an energy of trust in the group, which catalyzes higher levels of engagement of team members, greater involvement of their effort and ideas and greater speed in change and creation of the new, which is the objective of every team. As a result, an excellent team culture is developed.
Servant leaders are sacrificial leaders, ready to make the sacrifice when required. We explain with an example –
Jessica and Ruchika were close childhood and school friends. Jessica was the Head Girl of the school. One day there was a home assignment to be completed by the class. Jessica had forgotten to complete her assignment. She was afraid of the consequences and even more of the humiliation that she was not ready to face being in such a respectable post. She was also afraid of Ruchika’s assignment as being selected as the best one by the class teacher. Jessica’s mind was in a state of turmoil. On one hand was her self identity based on her role of the Head Girl and also the attachment to the same and on the other hand was her friendship and the voice of her conscience. If she chose the former and prevented Ruchika’s homework from being selected as the best, she would be seen in the same light as Ruchika and would save herself embarrassment. If she chose the latter and allowed Ruchika’s homework from being selected as the best, she would lose, but earn respect in the form of blessings and good wishes of her best friend Ruchika. Finally insecurity and the fear of loss of face in front of the class and the class teacher took grip over her. She chose the former, she harmed Ruchika’s homework and prevented Ruchika from submitting it on time and as a result prevented it from being adjudged as the best. She had won. Her ‘id’ – Head Girl had won. But the servant leader inside her had lost. Her relationship had lost. She did not pay heed to the voice of her conscience and her special relationship with Ruchika. As a result she brought about sorrow to her friend. Later on she repented and realized, that day she had not worn the crown of leadership well enough. She had not heard the voice of the servant leader inside her, a leader who could sacrifice the I and keep her friend ahead of her. She realized her mistake and decided to hear the voice henceforth.
Many times, while playing leadership roles, we are also faced with similar situations as Jessica found herself in, whether it’s in school, in the family, in our social circle or at the workplace, when we have to make a choice, when the I has to be sacrificed and the other has to be kept ahead – sometimes we do that easily, sometimes we find it difficult. There is a servant leader inside each one of us, which favours the sacrifice. We need to awaken that servant leader. Spiritual knowledge helps us in doing the same.
What the quality of a soul’s thoughts and images (or scenes) that it creates, depends on the soul’s sanskaras. Depending on the quality, the soul experiences the various different emotions, whether positive or negative. When the soul first incarnates on the physical world stage from the soul world, the quality of this role play of thoughts and images is high, pure and positive, hence it experiences only positive emotions. As it plays its different roles and comes down in the birth-rebirth cycle, this quality reduces, leading to the experience of emotions like sorrow, peacelessness, etc.
A point worth noting is that the key to any deep emotional experience, whether positive or negative is the creation of thoughts as well as images related to that particular emotion at the same time e.g. think and visualize at the same time, the death of a close relative that took place ten years ago and you immediately have a deep experience of sorrow. Think and visualize together, a loving hug of your mother that took place in your childhood, and you immediately experience deep happiness. This type of co-ordination between these two subtle processes is true concentration. The key to any type of spiritual upliftment is the upliftment of these two processes. The meditation that is taught at the Brahma Kumaris is nothing but a spiritual thought process accompanied by a spiritual visualization process, whereby thoughts and images of the subtle, spiritual self (or soul) and the Supreme Being (or Supreme Soul) are created together to experience the original qualities of the spiritual self and the eternal qualities of the Supreme Being – purity, peace, love, happiness and power.
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