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Wisdom Based Leadership In Corporate Culture- Challenges & Opportunities

Deliberating on the need for wisdom based leadership, a panel of eminent personalities came together at BW Wellbeing Summit 2018 held in New Delhi today to discuss the importance of discerning and insightful leaders who can be instrumental in creating logical, content and purpose driven individuals

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Wisdom outweighs any wealth, this is one lucre that helps everyone in every facet of life and with leaders being the beacons of change and influence, infusing wisdom in corporate culture has its own challenges as well as opportunities. 

Deliberating on the need for wisdom based leadership, a panel of eminent personalities came together at BW Wellbeing Summit 2018 held in New Delhi today to discuss the importance of discerning and insightful leaders who can be instrumental in creating logical, content and purpose driven individuals.

A strong organizational culture is paramount to the success of any business and an effective leader is paramount in reflecting that very culture through his human resources. Beginning the panel discussion about the same, Vinit Taneja, Founder, Tresonance Consulting, Tranformational Coach and facilitator (Chair) said,- “Neale Donald Walsch says that a true leader is not the one with the most followers, but one who creates the most leaders. Leaders need to take care of a lot of qualities, embrace them, where do you begin, where do you end, how do you really get there. To me these are the nuances to be explored in a corporate parlance.”

Talking about the roots and human values our very basic subconscious fabric is built upon, Sraddhalu Ranade, Educator Scientist and Scholar, Aurobindo Ashram stated, “We are in the midst of a great transition, of a yuga, an entire age which is dying out and a new age that is being born, it is an unprecedented transition in the history of humanity. The characteristic of this transition is that the things upon which we built our past civilizational values are collapsing. The things upon which we need to build the future are not yet formed and we in the midst of a world that is collapsing and a world that is being born and somewhere we don’t know where we are. This is at the core of the crisis which we see today, where each one of us experiences it individually but as a society we experience it in the most extreme means.”

He further elaborated, “In terms of the planet we see that the entire ecosystem is at the brink of a collapse and direct cause of this collapse is the values upon which we build our civilization and here I need to bring it to the focus of the theme at hand which is in the corporate life, in the management and leadership, when we look at the roots on which we built these values they go back to what we may call the industrial age of Europe, the character of the industrial age is that we see everything as an industry, as machine including society itself is a machine and the child is a raw material to be shaped by the educational system to be beaten into shape to be pre designed as a cogwheel to be fitted into this machine. It dehumanises, kills creativity, destroys individuality and it is designed to do that.”

“But we have come a long way from that period, we are no more living by those systems anymore but the values which they established then 200 years ago are still working within us unknown, subconsciously. Some of these values include top down leadership, and what that means is we try to somehow motivate a person by imposing from outside certain tendencies, certain impulses, manipulating a person to drive to do something which we want him to do, which he may not want to do and there is an entire machinery of oppression which is designed topdown to oppress, to supress, to kill creativity effectively.”

“But at the end of that when the creativity is killed and the circumstances demand creativity, we try to reverse the process and say, let’s do something and bring back creativity and innovation but within the limits we want, towards the direction which we have pre-set and it makes the whole system somehow unsustainable.

“There is an entire machinery of oppression to supress creativity effectively. Here the prime driver of motivation is greed, desire, fear and reward because you have reduced a person to a piece of machine, raw material to be shaped and the person then as a part of the system becomes a willing slave because he needs the money to survive leading to dissatisfaction and the ultimate breakdown of the person.”

“This is the natural outcome of the assumptions upon which the industrial age was built and we need to renew this. In India our starting point was fundamentally different and it led to a civilization which has been sustainable, which was built on and driven by completely different values.”

“The first principle of this whole approach of Indian tradition is that we are all individual souls in the process of evolution and that souls and evolution we have come with a conscious sense of purpose. We already carry within us our deepest most intense power of motivation and drive which is not desire based. In the very essence of our soul, we are fearless, we are creative beings, we are naturally happy, and we naturally strive to fulfil ourselves in life to grow and to help others to grow.”

“We are naturally in harmony with everyone else. Rather than suppressing this and creating artificial means, can we not enable this, can we tap into that which is already real and true within us and can we bring ourselves together as a group that we work together. And such is the framework upon which the Indian approach to management, collective work and business development is based.”

Summing up his viewpoint, Ranade concluded, “The second characteristic of this approach is we see that the team not just as an agglomeration of so many individuals but the team itself has a soul, the team itself naturally develops an individuality, even a corporate entity, a company is a being in itself which develops a soul, a mind and a drive of its own, the culture of its own, the character of its own. The corporate entity in itself is a being and there are complex dynamics taking place across individuals and with this larger corporate entity.”

Calling wisdom a way of life, Gurucharan Gandhi, Author of Kabeer in Korporates & Exec VP Aditya Birla Capital affirmed, “Effective leaders are the ones who approach leadership from an inner space. Wise leadership stands on three pillars- First source of wise leadership would be to understand self. Whatever you are say, doing, express, claim, pushing is a product of what you want, it is a product of your past, wishes and desires. Everything is subjective. There is nothing called pure objectivity. In the 21st century the claim to fame of leadership is how much know I have which is almost in contradiction to wisdom.

The second pillar is to understand that life is all about polarities, and that you will be pulled in all directions all your life. The moment you get caught between these polarities is where the whole cause of wisdom goes out of the window. The third pillar is to resist certitudes, never be sure of everything because whatever you are sure of, there is an alternate reality that exists and leadership particularly in organizational aspect is almost a competition between who is more sure.We have this tendency of rewarding certitudes and discouraging doubt which is the greatest enemy of wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to doubt and never to be sure.”

Dr. Pankaj Gupta, President, IIHMR University, Jaipur too expressed, “Many a times we have a sense of inadequacy within us, we do not know the purpose of our life. Many a times we are living somebody else’s life and once we reach there we are lost again. It is only through the reflected light of oneself that adds any meaning to one’s life. There is a famous saying of Buddha- This too shall pass, so do not take anything seriously. Creating self-aware individuals is important. There is no need to search for a guru anywhere, as it is within us. As in the corporate world, we often talk about doing but we need to focus more on the being part. One needs to be a lamp of one’s own life, everything reflects from one’s self and the biggest learning I learnt is that most of our life is driven from being nobody to somebody, but the biggest thing is when you move from somebody to nobody in a restful way.”

Emphasizing on the importance of purpose, Murali Sivaraman, Chairman, Philips Lighting India Ltd avowed, “A leader is a humble follower who brings the team together with a sense of purpose. An enterprise could be for profit, not for profit, a university or a business but with a goal and a sense of purpose.”