Leadership in Uncertain times

  • by kaibizzen
  • Apr 29, 2021
  • Blog

Perhaps one of the greatest examples of leadership in uncertain times in the 20th century, is Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi was born in 1869, when India was still a part of the British Empire. After an arranged marriage at the age of 13, Gandhi rebelled against his deeply religious upbringing by smoking, eating meat and even stealing. By age 18, he went to London to study law. Six years later his employer sent him to South Africa, where he witnessed the deep-seated discrimination and racial segregation of South African society.

June 7, 1893, was perhaps the turning point in young Gandhi’s life when he was thrown off a train station by a white man after he refused to move to the back of the car. That would prove to be Gandhi’s first, but certainly not last, act of civil disobedience.

By 1906, Gandhi had organized his first mass civil disobedience campaign in South Africa. He would spend the next 9 years fighting for Indian rights in the country before returning home to fight for Indian liberation.

After years of struggle and multiple arrests, Gandhi’s “Quit India” movement in 1942 paved the way for Britain’s eventual withdrawal from the country.

To this day, world leaders, such as Martin Luther King, Lech Walesa and Nelson Mandela, scientists, philosophers and even entrepreneurs have drawn inspiration from Gandhi. He single-handedly inspired millions of people to action, preaching a message of love, tolerance and avoiding greed. His legacy, more than 150 years later is still analysed for relevance in the modern era’s turbulent times.

So, what can we learn from Ghandi in our quest to lead in uncertain times? In his 2019 article for Forbes Magazine, Nish Archaya highlights the following:

  1. Ghandi led first and foremost by understanding the economic, cultural and religious diversity of the Indian people.
  2. He integrated himself into the movement by dedicating his life to the cause, living as much among the people as possible, and risking death many times for the cause.
  3. Arguably, his greatest leadership trait was his ability to visualise of a successful, post-Independence Indian nation,
  4. He maintained a life-long focus on the four intertwined challenges that he believed needed to be collectively addressed for India to achieve success as a nation. Ramchandra Guha in his book, “Gandhi, The Years That Changed The World”; identifies these 4 challenges: to free India from British occupation, to end untouchability, to improve relations between Hindus and Muslims, and to make India into a self-reliant nation – economically and socially. He believed firmly that without addressing all four challenge (free India from British occupation, to end untouchability, to improve the relationship between Hindus and Muslims and to make India self=reliant both economically and socially simultaneously), India could not acquire independence and become a successful nation.
  5. Ghandi’s willingness to live like the majority of Indians that he sought to help, the villagers and the urban poor to “be the change” he wished “to see in this world”, brought him the credibility, trust and intellectual understanding needed to lead India’s independence movement.
  6. Gandhi’s least studied leadership trait was his ability to use the fast as a social and political weapon. Over the course of his life-time, Gandhi’s ability to fast for social change was his core competency. No one else could do it and there was no answer for it – from anyone. The British never had an effective response, nor did angry Indian communal rioters. In each case, Gandhi’s fasts brought capitulation to his wishes, because anything was a more acceptable solution than to allow Gandhi’s death.

Are you a leader of a family and/or a leader of a business? If so, Gandhi’s leadership is a model for you to emulate.

  1. How deeply do you understand the needs, wants and diversity of your family and/or your market place?
  2. What is the cause you are willing to fight for? Do you have a cause? Are you willing to fight for it? How prepared are you to do what you have to do?
  3. What’s your vision for your family and/or your business?
  4. What are the challenges you will face to achieve this vision? Are you able to clearly articulate those challenges? What’s your plan to address those challenges?
  5. What’s your core competency?

Your answers to these questions may be the tools that will enable you “to be the change” non-violently yet forcibly in the same manner Ghandi did so effectively.

You may not see yourself as Ghandi, but do you see yourself as a leader, fully capable of leading your team through the challenge of these uncertain times? Great leadership drives great businesses. Are you ready to drive a great business? Reach out for a confidential conversation. We’re here to support you in creating the life you deserve for you and your family.

02 Oct

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