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Walk the Talk: Learnings from the Mahatma

By Khyati Shah
Transformation Coach coach

01 October 2021

Leadership Coach

When we talk about Mahatma Gandhi, the first word which pops up in our mind is ‘Ahimsa’, ofcourse followed by ‘Freedom’ and ‘Self-Reliance’. He envisioned a world that would evolve towards peace and harmony. Mahatma Gandhi is also seen as a master strategist and an exemplary leader as well as someone whose ideologies can be emulated by corporate India.

 

Today, we live in a world defined by cut-throat competition, constant bombardment of information, true and false, artificial intelligence and instant gratification. What can we learn from Gandhi to build a team which is motivated, loyal and has a high sense of ownership of their area of work?

 

What really stood about Gandhi was his clarity on the principles he lived by, reflecting his values. He identified with his values so deeply, that he was willing to go to any length to stand by them. Freedom was important but so was non-violence, so he chose the path of Satyagraha to drive across his point. Here are some practices that corporates can learn and adopt to create stellar teams.

 

  1. Clearly spell out and communicate Values

Not just individuals, but even organisation need to spell out what are the values that they live by. These values define what is most important to the organisation and tells the world what they stand for. However, it is critical that these are derived from the ethos of the leaders of the organisation. If there is a conflict between personal values and organisational values, it will lead to a crisis sooner or later.

 

  1. Promote cooperation instead of blind competition

Many managers have a practice of pitting one team member against another in an attempt to trigger their competitive sides and push for more. This only leads to bitterness and burnout over a period of time. A team which works harmoniously will be much more productive than one which has distrust and one-upmanship ruling it. Cooperation can make the difference between success and failure for businesses.

 

  1. Lead by Example

Gandhi led by example. He stood by his core beliefs and lived by them; he didn’t just instruct others to follow the principles. Often, we see a dichotomy in organisations, where the teams are expected to follow certain principles, but the leadership does not demonstrate the same. It is challenging for people to have faith in an idea or point of view if their leader is not also committed to the principles.

 

  1. Be humble and admit mistakes

Humility was Gandhi’s biggest trait. Everyone makes mistakes, but it can be beneficial for the team to see a leader acknowledge his mistakes as it makes him more relatable. Mistakes can show you where you went wrong and how you can improve in the future. It also encourages everyone to be honest and upfront when they make a mistake, which could save tremendous time and money spent on discovering and correcting it later.

 

  1. Promote diversity and be open to new ideas

Gandhi was self-assured about what his goals were and how he planned to achieve them, yet he was always open to ideas and opinions from the people around him. He believed in inclusivity and inspired people across the country, irrespective of caste, creed or colour.

A diverse workforce encourages innovation and new ideas, which in turn increases the likelihood of success.

 

  1. Emotional Intelligence in people management

One of the things Gandhi excelled at was making people feel heard and valued. An emotional level of understanding means that you not only listen to their words but also understand how they are feeling. A good leader needs to be a good listener, self-aware and respond with emotional intelligence. People feel valued and respected when a leader takes the time to listen and process what they are saying.

 

  1. Be genuinely interested in collective growth

Gandhi’s goals were oriented towards the collective development of all Indians. It was this vision that guided all the great movements from the Non-Cooperation Movement to the Quit India Movement to the Great Salt March. When organisations have a genuine interest and intent of promoting growth for every team member, its policies and plans are structured accordingly. This plays a big role in motivating the employees and in earning their trust, loyalty and respect.

 

Even close to 75 years after Independence, Gandhi’s principles are very much applicable for achieving collaborative success by organisations. Gandhi was not a mere thinker. He changed the world because of his courage and ability to put things into practice.

 

“A sign of a good leader is not how many followers you have but how many leaders you create.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

 

Khyati Shah is a Transformation Coach and seasoned professional dedicated to helping people overcome limiting beliefs and balance the demands of life and career more effectively. You can reach her on khyatishah@katalist.net.in.

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