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As a leader, you should know that when you are trying to do something difficult, you need to have a plan for yourself. Any time I am entering a new market or considering a business deal, I create a plan of action for myself. I ask a series of pointed questions: What? Why? How? When?
Answering these questions, I refuse anything that falls short of complete honesty from myself because I am striving for real awareness of my own character. Once I can answer these questions concisely, then I know I am operating from a plan. Before you go any further, stop and ask yourself these questions:
- What goal do you want to accomplish as a leader?
- Why do you want to accomplish your goal?
- How are you going to accomplish your goal?
- When are you going to accomplish your goal? (Yes, put a deadline on it!)
Now that you have a clearer picture of the value that you are going to get out of this book, let’s talk about another thing that leadership is not. Just as leadership is not the same thing as being a boss, leadership is not the same thing as management either. When we talk about leadership, we are not talking simply about organizational skills or business development knowledge. We are talking about spiritual, mental, and emotional concepts that would not neatly fit on a chart or a piece of graphing paper in the way that management concepts and strategies do. We are talking about your very soul and identity as a person – about the souls and identities of all the people around you – and what is best for everyone.
As you work to cultivate your leadership ability, you will find yourself examining the innermost parts of yourself. You will have to ask yourself questions that make you uncomfortable and that cause you to question how much you actually want to be a leader. This is good. If you were asking these difficult questions and you did not feel uncomfortable, then it would be safe to assume that you were not being forthright with yourself. If you look in the mirror and wonder, “How have I unintentionally hurt people whom I should have been leading?” then you are on the right track. If you wonder this aloud and it stings you to hear it, then there may just be a world-changing leader inside you yet!
As a leader, world-changing or not, you need to consider EI – also known as emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is one of the primary ingredients of effective leadership, and as a leader, you must possess self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. These are abstract ideas, yes, but as humans, we can all attest that they are real and that we experience them in our own ways constantly. We have all experienced motivation, even if we cannot draw it on a piece of paper the way that we can draw an experience like driving in a car or skiing. We have also experienced self-awareness too, even if it seems to escape description sometimes.
How do we make improvements to ourselves in these areas? This is a tough question, and as I have spoken at length about these ideas with my friends and peers, I have come to a realization. While it is useful to think about leadership, it is much more useful to look to real-world examples and try to model ourselves off of them. This is the way that I think about leadership in my day-to-day life, considering the people who have impacted the world most and studying the strategies and mindsets they cultivated in their times. Through their actions, they have forged the way for us. We still need to find our own way in the world and develop into leaders through our own effort, but there are guideposts along the way, helpful hints, and tactics that our grand predecessors have left for us.
So, instead of only talking about non-violent leadership, I reflect on the actions of Mahatma Gandhi. I think about the movement that he ignited in India and how he so steadfastly remained the course with it. When it seemed that the odds were stacked wholly against him and only suffering was in front of him, blocking any vision that he may have had of an independent nation, he did what he knew to be right. He stood up, non-violently, for the values and principles that he held in his heart, and he refused to compromise on them. In doing so, he inspired others to join him and stand up for the values and principles that they felt in their hearts as well.
I will go into Gandhi’s story in greater detail later. What is important for now is to see that we can turn back to Gandhi and other leaders like him to remind us of how we should behave and what we should do to achieve our goals. When you have a role model for leadership, you can let go of your analytical mind, stop trying to decipher every situation as if it were a math problem, and let your intuition take over, trusting that once you see another leader changing the world, you will see how you can change the world also.
The same way that it is easier to learn how to throw a ball by watching someone else throw a ball, it is easier to learn how to lead by watching some else lead. I have researched the pages of history at length over the years in order to build up my base of knowledge in this area, and I selected only the finest leaders in history for inclusion here. If you ever find yourself struggling to imagine a role model or confused about what a great leader would do in your situation, you can turn back to this book for guidance.
As a leader, you should be a visible inspiration for others. You should show them through your actions the spectacular feats that are within our reach when we work together. Facing challenges, you should seem to conquer the unconquerable effortlessly and through the sheer force of your virtue alone.
In my book ” The Art of True Leadership: Dr Singh’s insights ” I will help you unlock your true leadership potential by describing what has worked for me over the years.