Developing a Minded Leadership
Ajay Mehta | Professor & HOD-HR | JK Business School, Gurugram
Ajay Mehta | Professor & HOD-HR | JK Business School, Gurugram

Leadership is the most spoken word in any conversation and least understood by many. The debate of its taxonomy whether it is a science, or an art is ad-nauseum and remains a moot issue for prognostics and discussion. The emphasis has always been how Leaders should lead.

The matter of fact is that Leadership over the centuries have been evolving, moving deftly between the maze of theories, be it the Trait theory, Transformational, Situational, Contingency et al, all only emphasizing one aspect of how to lead.

Cataclysmic changes have taken place in this last century, with pronounced technological developments being given a disproportionate edge with the sinister efforts of marginalizing the role of a leader, who remains a person in flesh and bones, with a thinking mind and an emotional heart. Machines and technology are mere tools, severely limited to their designed functions operating in finite parameters, while the human mind has infinite capacity to postulate, appreciate various human angles before a decision is taken, a unique quality which a machine seriously lacks. Machines at best collate a plethora of information, but the decision to act on an option still remains with the mortal human.

Decisions are taken with heads and hearts working in close synthesis. Machines fail to empathize, a quintessential facet in decision making. While the emphasis has largely been on leadership, which is a process, the man undertaking the process has not been given the due focus. Who is heading the herd is important? Is it a lion heading the herd of sheep or the vice versa? History is replete with hair-raising examples of superb bravery and sterling leadership, where a handful of brave men led by a fearless motivated leader warded off repeated assaults by outnumbered hordes of pillagers. On a deeper study it was not the brawn alone, but an exceptionally strong mind, calm and unruffled.

This brings us to ruminate the importance of working on the Leader more than his styles. An evolved leader, in this context is one who is mentally at peace, emotionally stable and composed. For too long we have rolled out reams gloating over the (IQ) Intelligence Quotient, and (PQ) Physical Quotient, of a leader. Santa Clara University and the Tom Peters group have outlined the following Leadership qualities, some of which are, Honesty, Competency, Inspiring, Intelligence, Fair and Broad minded etc. EQ (Emotional Quotient) and SQ (Spiritual /Social Quotient), have obviously been considered less essential or assumed to be incorporated in the qualities above. Educational institutes are busy deliberating on the young minds how to manage wealth, businesses, funds etc. The important link of how to manage your mind is seriously missing. Confucius said, “Wars are won or lost in the minds of the warring factions; weapons only kill the mentally dead.” It very clearly highlights the importance of making our business leaders mentally tenacious. A Leader who is strong at heart and head can exhort his team to do wonders. Elton Mayo, in his Hawthorne studies amply highlighted the importance of strong and willing minds as the great motivating factor over the hygiene factors. This is only possible if a leader has a balanced and composed mind. It will not only improve self-awareness but will also result in better understanding and managing social relationships with the followers and colleagues.

Mind, Ego and Intellect are important facets of the human body. Interestingly, as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says that “it is not the mind, which is inside the body, but the other way round. The body is like the wick of the candle and the mind is the glow”. This revelation supports the fact that the mind which is a traffic of thoughts has to be controlled well for good decision making. As Nityapragya ji from Art of Living in his book Celebrating Life, says “In a ruffled, restless scattered mind, cluttered with emotions and impressions, deeper realizations cannot happen.” A meditative mind experiences freedom from negative emotions, experiences instantaneous energy, profound peace at mental and emotional levels. As sleep is essential for resting the tired limbs, meditation (Dhyan) is the elixir for a fatigued mind. It helps in balancing the various energies flowing inside the body. Pranayam (skilful breathing), brings instant relief to the stirred-up emotions, placates a restive mind, besides energizing (raising the sattva) inside the body.

Hence, while professional skills in handling business affairs are essential, a tacit handling of mind in unison with breath, will enhance the decision-making ability, without being too influenced by situations and emotions. Such leaders will maintain an enviable posture of unnerving calm, essential in crisis, which has become a rule rather than an exception. The age-old adage of the Army rings loud and clear “it’s the man behind the gun that matters, and not the gun per-se.” Training young leaders to handle the mind with the same professional ease, as well, will result in a win-win situation for all.

About the Author

Brig. (Dr) Ajay Mehta, MMS (Osmania), PhD

Professor and HOD-HR, JK Business School, Gurugram

A senior professional with 36+ years of unblemished service as an officer with India Army, he has a rich experience in academics and HR management. He teaches HR related subjects at JK Business School, Gurugram.

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