Mohandus Gandhi, popularly known as Mahatma, was a leader of the people of India; he was not only a political and ethical leader, but also a religious leader. This leader is the founding father of Indian nation, as he aided his nation to attain independence from the British. The guiding principles of Gandhi were truth, individual and political self-policing (Bischoff, 2010, p.3).
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Generally, Gandhi used various weapons that included “non-cooperation, non-violence, and peaceful resistance” from the British (Bischoff, 2010). Simply, leadership is defined as a process by which someone takes the role of motivating or influencing others to follow a certain course for a common agenda or objective.
Many styles of leadership have been employed in various fields in life; however, the style of leadership employed by Mohandus is termed as follower centric that evaluates the existing conditions before setting strategies to be used. Moreover, mahatma’s leadership was also situational as various tactics were employed to different circumstances.
The style of leadership used in the Indian revolution is applied in some governments and businesses to day. A key aspect of the leadership was motivation and empowerment, which are essential in business and requires every member involved to be connected to the organization’s goals. Gandhi has a way of doing that – making sure that everyone in the cause is connected to the goal.
As a great leader, Gandhi managed to not only influence his fellow Indians, but also many other leaders in the world to participate in movements for civil rights internationally, for instance, Nelson Mandela, and martin Luther Jr.
This paper will explore leadership of Mohandus, and some government that use his style of leadership. Moreover, personal qualities, traits, and characteristics that made mahatma a successful leader will be explored. Finally, the paper will discuss Gandhi’s limitations in his role as an Indian leader.
Thesis statement: the most important principle of leadership is forming personal character, having personal conviction and the influence of religion through prayers. Moreover, essential leadership skills emphasized by Mahatma include the need for constant growth and strength, while influence is not obtained by muscle power.
Leadership style of Gandhi
Gandhi was an outstanding and charismatic leader in India who led a revolution to end colonialism by the British. In his leadership, Gandhi leadership skills were centered on ethical, servant, and spiritual leadership theories (Bischoff, 2010). However, Gandhi’s leadership is seen to be situational, since he advocated for use of a leadership style depending on the circumstances prevailing.
Gandhi was an ethical leader who modeled ethical behavior to the Indian community. Ethics are standards of beliefs and values that guide conduct, behavior, and activities; in other words, a way of thinking that provides boundaries for our actions. Ethical leadership is therefore defined as the act of leading based on ethics at all times. The principles of ethical leadership are truth telling, keeping promises, and fairness and respect for all individuals.
Through telling the truth, Gandhi was able to influence people of India to recognize their rights and need for revolution. He modeled what he expected his followers to act on and practiced ethical leadership, as his core motivation was to benefit his fellow countrymen and women rather than himself, thus he was ready to face the consequences of his actions.
Moreover, his life’s motivation was to attain social achievement rather than personal achievement. He attained his goal by transformation of the beliefs, values and the behavior of his followers. In this case, the transformation was achieved by empowerment and education.
Integrity is essential in ethical leadership; Mahatma portrayed his integrity through adhering to ethic behavior, thus his advocacy for non-violent means during the revolution. He actually cancelled campaign that yielded to violent behavior i.e. rioting. Moreover, Gandhi applied equal standards to all people regardless of their caste in society.
He did not manipulate his followers to participate in revolution activities i.e. fasting, but he allowed them to make choices freely. As a leader, Gandhi was imprisoned for several years for his actions but he did not give up his desire for change in his nation. Finally, Gandhi categorized seven social sins that he challenged his followers to evade at all cost.
Mahatma was a servant leader; servant leader is defined as a leader who serves his followers (Bischoff, 2010, p.6). Servant leaders usually have various traits including integrity, empathy, listening to name but a few. Gandhi as a servant leader was ready to suffer for what he believed in and he was not influenced by titles or wealth and money but lived in humility, which can be attested by the simple loom, weaved cloth he wore.
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According to Polelle (2007, p.24), “modern servant leadership approach emphasizes collaboration, trust, empathy, and ethical use of power.” Gandhi was largely involved in humanitarian work; indeed, most of his money obtained from his work as a lawyer was used in assisting needy people in the society (Polelle, 2007, p.24).
Importantly, his leadership did not discriminate any caste in the society, as he worked with low castes in India who were discriminated by fellow Indians.
As a spiritual leader, Gandhi demanded peaceful coexistence of all religions irrespective of the fact that he was a Hindu spiritual leader. He believed that all different beliefs led to the same ultimate truth; hence, there was no need for religious conflict (Polelle, 2007, p.24). Using power of love, the leader was able to overcome any negative emotions on the colonial masters that led to his choice of non-violent ways to repel the British.
Through this belief, he advocated for peaceful coexistence of Hindus and Muslims and all levels of castes in the community, hence a unified nation. Further, he promoted other spiritual attributes such as Peace. Mahatma believed that his enemies should be treated honorably irrespective of their behaviors.
Gandhi is seen as a transformational leader as he single handedly raised the motivation and morality of his followers during the Indian revolution (Shriberge & Shriberge, 2009). Transformational leadership has a moral dimension, which Mondulas upheld strongly in his advocacy against violence. He maintained humility at all times and sought to satisfy the needs of his followers first, rather than his needs.
Key components of transformational leaders are charisma and stewardship. Through his charismatic attributes, mahatma was able to rally and motivate the people of India to revolt against the British colonialists. Although his means of revolt were criticized and seemed ineffective, he managed to make Indians to believe in his cause.
Moreover, Gandhi focused on empowering and motivating his followers and stimulated their intelligence. Importantly, he involved people who would be affected by his actions before making any decisions (Bischoff, 2010). As a result, his followers were satisfied and committed to go to any length in order to attain Mahatma’s defined goals.
In other words, when Gandhi told his followers to boycott foreign made clothes and instead hand-weave their own clothes, they all obliged without any resistance. Further, the followers gained trust with their leader since he was committed, kept his promises, and satisfied the needs of his followers.
He was able to initiate change, confront the status quo, and know prospects that his followers could benefit from. Mahatma not only influenced his fellow Indian people, but also other leaders in the world, for instance, Martin Luther King indicates that Gandhi illustrated the means of bringing a revolution.
Transformational leadership entails four spheres namely, the concern of supporters’ needs, intellectual stimulation of followers based on their strengths, inspiration of supporters to attain their best and influencing the vision and interests of followers to be have a correlation with leader’s goals (Odom, 2010, p.82). As a transformational leader, Mahatma Gandhi influenced and motivated his followers; additionally, he was a mentor and a role model.
Traits of Mohandus
Gandhi had extemporary traits that helped him to be an effective leader in his times. These traits include good communicator, humility, self-motivating and responsible.
Mohandus was a good communicator, which is an essential trait for all successful leaders. He was able to convey and persuade the people of India to support his cause and goals that he had defined. Moreover, he was self-disciplined, as he was not governed by any policies or rules; however, he had a set of values that he stuck to regardless of the situation.
Application in business/government leadership
In the present corporate workplace, there is need for ethical leadership for an organization to attain its goals. The components of ethical purpose, knowledge, authority, and trust define the success of a business (Johnson, 2005, p. 1). Moreover, values and ethics are fundamental in any corporate organization culture.
Businesses that practiced servant leadership benefit from satisfied employees who are motivated to meet the goals of the organization, i.e. TD industries lay much emphasis on servant leadership through its CEO Mr. Lowe, and as a result, the firm has enjoyed much recognition. The firm has been able to build trust with its employees, which is essential in ensuring that the firm remains competitive in the business environment.
Therefore, the firm is more flexible in dealing with changing business environment without internal resistance. In return, the firm has developed competitive edge over its competitors; hence, profitability of the organization has increased (Bounds, 1998).
Lack of ethical leaders in an organization can lead to disastrous results to the firm. A case in mind is the Enron Corporation, a gas pipeline company that collapsed due to lack of ethical leaders.
It is believed that the executive management did not live up to the set up values that they expected their employees to follow. In addition, ethical leadership is portrayed by senior managers who demanded their employees to take pay cuts during recession, while they (managers) continued to take home large bonuses.
Limitation in Gandhi’s Leadership
Despite of Gandhi’s achievements, he had some shortcomings; it is believed that he had racism tendencies, as he did not include black people, and he supported the Indian people only (Bischoff, 2010).
Mohandus was a great political and spiritual leader of India; through his leadership, he managed to toppled the colonial masters, British, hence bringing liberation to his countrymen.
His leadership styles and skills set an example to other great leaders i.e. Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther Jr. Further, his leadership styles can be implemented in present business and government management. Importantly, Gandhi used the following leadership styles, servant leadership, and transformational, spiritual, and ethical leadership.
As a servant leader, Gandhi was keen to empower his followers and he was more concerned with meeting their needs rather than his personal needs. Servant leaders do not implement force, but persuade the followers by setting him or herself as an example and encouraging them to reach their full potential, thus performing at their best.
Transformational leadership is defined as the practice in which leaders and supporters uphold higher levels of morality and motivation. The vision of a transformational leader goes beyond him, but to the greater good of all that followed him.
Through charisma, a leader is able to break barriers that exist between leaders and their followers. Primarily, transformational leaders are able to influence their followers to accept and get committed to achieving goals defined by their leaders.
Ethical leadership is a crucial factor for any successful organizational leadership, as it ensures that the goals are met using guidelines of laws and regulations. Leaders like Mahatma should set examples of how they wish their followers to act or behave. Generally, all the facets of leadership portrayed by Mahatma should be emulated by organization and government leaders.
Bischoff, A. L. (2010) Leadership Theories: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi: The Application of Leadership Skills in Businesslife on a Great Leader of Our Time. Norderstedt: GRIN Verlag.
Bounds, G. Dallas Business Journal Sunday, August 30, (1998). Servant leadership: a model that can pay great dividends. Web.
Johnson, K. W. (2005). The role of Leadership in Organizational Integrity, and five modes of Ethical Leadership. Web.
Odom, L. (2010) leadership Ethics. NY: Xlibris Corporation.
Polelle, M. R. (2007). Leadership: fifty great leaders and the worlds they made. Westport, CT: ABC-CLIO.
Shriberge, A. & Shriberge, D. (2009). Practicing leadership and Application. NJ: John Wiley and Sons.