Know thyself. This is the first maxim at the entrance of the Apollo Temple of Delphi. This is also the first maxim regarding leadership, because only those who can lead themselves can lead others. Leadership always begins with self-leadership.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.Buddha
Leadership is a matter of inner attitude. But what attitude is that and what does it mean to lead yourself well? A good, but unfortunately less known in the West, canon of values is found in Buddhism in the so-called Dasavidha-rājadhamma, the ten virtues of a ruler:
- Charity (Dāna). Leadership does not end at the walls of the organization, but rather assumes responsibility beyond that for society.
- Morality (Sīla). Genuine authority is not a question of position, but of exemplary moral conduct, because leadership is based more on imitation than on subordination.
- Altruism (Pariccāga). Leadership is about making others successful. While our actions today are often guided by the ego-centered question “What do I get out of the existence of others and the community,” the opposite question is more important: “What does the community get out of my existence?”
- Honesty (Ājjava). Trust is the foundation of leadership. Voluntarily and with all our heart we only follow who we trust. And trust is based not only on empathy and logic, but also on authenticity.
- Gentleness (Maddava). Good leadership means going about one’s work with hope and sparking hope in employees.
- Self Controlling (Tapa). Egomaniacs at the top are poison for cooperation. A culture of fear may lead to obedience, but in the long run it undermines self-discipline and creativity.
- Non-Anger (Akkodha). Leadership creates safety. Trust and cooperation thrive best in a climate of psychological safety.
- Non-Violence (Avihimsa). Leadership means less than ever to instruct and control, but “to serve life, to elicit life in people, to awaken life in employees.” (Anselm Grün)
- Forbearance (Khanti). Like a good gardener, leadership patiently creates a context in which life can unfold. “Persevering in effort, humble in the expectation of success.” (Götz W. Werner)
- Agreeability (Avirodhana). Leadership appreciates diversity and encourages self-organization and emergence. It does not impede the resulting progress.
Even after more than 2,000 years, these ten virtues are still ideally suited as a moral foundation for humane leadership.
Leadership is a service — and not a privilege. The service for the employee is to offer him or her the opportunity to grow.Bodo Janssen in Impulse 7. Oktober 2016