BUDDHISTS around the world today celebrate Vesak Day to commemorate the Buddha’s birth, Nirvana (enlightenment) and Parinirvana (death). It is a reminder that amidst the daily grind and our worldly ambitions, there is a greater goal in life beyond pursuing material success.
There are five key values that leaders can learn from spiritual leaders like the Buddha and apply them to their everyday lives, regardless of their faith:
If there is one key quality that all leaders must possess, it is to be principled. A virtuous leader knows very clearly what he stands for, and what his moral standards are. This in turn helps him to portray a consistent image to the world. Consistency is one of the cornerstones for inspiring trustworthiness.
Think about what core virtues you hold dear, and how you can uphold them as a leader. Keep in mind that you are standing by them for intrinsic reasons, and thus will not abandon them even when nobody is looking.
Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers, is known to have put down 13 virtues in life that he deemed important, and he reviewed his integrity in every one of them at the conclusion of every week.
Great leaders win hearts because they display a genuine empathy for the people around them. When listening to your staff, open your ears and heart and place yourself in their shoes. Only then will you be able to solve their fundamental problems and build a more effective team.
Leaders need to show that they care about their people as individuals and not just the means to achieve results.
All great leaders have an uncanny ability to strip away all the non-essentials and focus on the one or two most important priorities for their teams.
Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and chief executive officer of mobile payment company Square, offers a refreshing definition of the term “CEO”. As the head of a startup, he styled himself as its Chief Editorial Officer, targeting three areas in which to apply his editorial guidance: team dynamics, communications and finance.
After reading this article, brainstorm and write down the top 25 goals you would like to achieve in life. After that, strike out 20 of them, and home in on the remaining five.
These are the goals you should work on for the next few years of your life. It takes discipline and incredible focus to ignore the distractions, but that is a price worth paying in return for clarity and effectiveness.
As a leader, it is important that you be available to your team. Make an effort to be accessible, and keep your door open to any team member, as long as they have a valid reason to consult with you. Be proactive in interacting with your team, and institute a culture of availability.
To be a great leader, you must not overlook the importance of kindness. It goes hand in hand with empathy, and is compassion in action.
It is often undervalued by society and is sometimes associated with weakness by the successful. Yet, good leaders know that it is the single most effective shortcut to happiness, for themselves as well as their teams.
Make a conscious decision to be kind in the workplace. Be ready to offer help in whatever capacity you can. Because so few business leaders practise this philosophy at the workplace, having a reputation for kindness will go a long way in making your tenure a memorable one.
Many of the lessons the Buddha taught 2,500 years are as relevant today as they were in ancient India. As great spiritual leaders like him prove, no one is ever too high up to be virtuous, empathetic, single-minded, available and kind. While you enjoy your holiday, keep in mind these takeaways that you can apply when you return to your workplace.
Article contributed by Seah Ying Cong, a communications and leadership expert with Training Edge International. For more information, e-mail Ying.Cong@trainingedgeasia.com or visit www.trainingedgeasia.com