To begin with, it is important to understand what spirituality is. We will also look briefly at leadership and then see how the two get linked.
Spirituality is about finding the answer to the question – who am I? It is not about our official designations or roles. It also isn’t merely about our personal relationships. It is much deeper than that. Let us try asking this question to ourselves, and see what answers we get. Chances are, we won’t; unless we are enlightened beings.
1. Accepting that we do not know the answer to the question – who am I?
2. Continuously seeking to find the answer.
Without the first point above, the second cannot exist. It is therefore important to approach spirituality with an open mind – neither believe nor disbelieve in the opinions we already hold, or what others say. One must understand that the spiritual journey (of finding the answer to – who am I?) is an un-chartered territory for each individual (and hence, it is important to have a Guru, who has been through it all). We do not know how long and treacherous the journey will be, and what would the answer be, if at all we get it. But a spiritual journey opens up the possibility of finding the answer.
Starting a spiritual journey doesn’t mean we have to leave our family and go to the jungle, as is normally feared. It only means preparing our body for the larger possibilities; certain dimensions that have so far been beyond our realm. This doesn’t take more than an hour a day. If we do this with commitment, we can find the answer. Many have!
The concept of leadership has been extensively written about. I will therefore not spend much time explaining it in detail afresh. To me, leadership is about having a vision of the future, being able to communicate the same effectively to the stakeholders and motivating and empowering the team to chase the vision with utmost focus and follow-through.
This brings us to the moot question – why is spirituality important for leadership? Read on..
Setting ourselves on a spiritual course entails the following. I have covered only three of the major aspects to keep the blog post short.
1. Responsibility : What all in this world are we responsible for? Ourselves? Family? Society? Country? Earth? Universe? Can answer to any of these questions be ‘no’?
Implication : Answer to this question helps define the vision of a leader. One difference between a mediocre and a meritorious leader is the ability to intertwine organisational vision with the larger good of humanity, thereby enhancing the support base for the organisation significantly. For more details, do read my blog Having A Personal Vision to find about some people who could do it.
2. Humility : We are just a speck in this existence. Consider this. There are over 7 billion inhabitants on earth, and I am just one of them. Earth is just one of the innumerable heavenly bodies in the universe. The universe in itself is billions of years old. The 70 odd years that I will spend on earth is minuscule in this scheme of things. So, how significant is my existence?
Implication : We, as leaders, carry big egos, and want to feel all important. We tend to demand, and not command respect. Have we realised if we, after all, are that important? Will our arrogance or our humility make us a better leader?
3. Happiness : Human race has progressed on the back of innovation. The level of comfort enjoyed by the current generation is probably the highest ever. But can we say that we are the happiest generation that ever lived on the planet? There has been a conscious and mammoth effort to set right the outside world. But how much time have we given for our inner well being?
Implication : A long and healthy work life is important for a leader. Ill-health can either halt a leader’s progress or, even if one succeeds, result in the ‘gifts’ of a heart disease, blood pressure or diabetes. A happy leader also builds a happy team – so critical for achievement of the vision!
Spiritual Quotient therefore is the ability of a leader to see his vision and the ensuing endeavour to achieve the same through the prism of the larger good to the society, bringing good health and happiness to himself and the stakeholders involved. So, what is your spiritual quotient?
The question that might come to mind after reading the above is – why do we need to be spiritual to realise these fairly straightforward implications for leadership? The answer is simple too – unless we set apart time in our daily (busy) schedule to make steady progress in our spiritual journey, we will not get time to even think about these issues. Spirituality brings depth to a leader’s approach and understanding.
My spiritual journey started in February 2013, after I visited the Isha Yoga Ashram. I have blogged about my experiences and progress. Read about it here and here. Significant portions of what I have written above are influenced by what I learnt at the Centre.