India is celebrating 60th Independence Day on 15th August, 2006 and I am thinking about Mahatma Gandhi – a man who played a pivotal role in India’s non-violent independence movement and is rightly called “Father of the nation”. A close watch on Gandhi’s life reveals that he was a master manager and a great motivator.
A lot of people across the globe have studied Gandhi’s life very closely and a by-product of this study has been some important management lessons that he imbibed in his life and his actions.
At times when we struggle to manage simple projects with a few team members, Gandhi undertook a massive project of freeing India from British rule and involved millions of Indians to stand by his principles of non-violence. At the time when getting 10 people agree on a point was difficult, Gandhi was able to get millions of people involved in a vision without compromising on his values. Mahatma Gandhi was one of the greatest managers India ever had. He struggled for years before he finally accomplished his goal of a free India on August 15th 1947.
The magnitude of work he did was immense. So, what management lessons have been derived from Mahatma Gandhi’s life? Here are some:
Create a vision for future
M. K. Gandhi, a simple man, created a vision of “Poorna Swaraj” (complete independence). Not only he created a vision, he worked with people (a lot of people) to share his vision. Virtually entire India shared his vision. Leaders create a vision for future and share it.
Define the values to achieve vision
Values are core to achieve a vision. Gandhi followed his convictions. He established a value system of honesty and non-violence. Not only that, he spread his values across the country. Leaders have to have a set of values and these values have to be transparently percolated to each and every layer of the organization.
Involve People and get them to collaborate
Gandhi was a people person. He never sat in one corner creating vision and values. He worked with people, reached masses and involved the country. He timed his programmes to get maximum people attention and traveled across the country. He was a person who was able to unite the whole country for a cause. Leaders involve, motivate and drive people to achieve a cause because people are essentially engines of change.
Walk the talk – Lead by example
Gandhi walked the talk – he preached and then he followed it himself. Leaders live the values they set. The walk the talk and do what they preach.
Gandhi worked for India’s independence for years together. In spite of major setbacks, he continued his efforts; he continued to bring people together till he succeeded. Leaders persistently work towards a goal.
Courage to Challenge the tradition
Gandhi challenged the traditional ways to seeking independence. He thought different and practiced non-violence. Leaders have to get out of traditional thinking and have courage to challenge the obvious. Gandhi stood for truth.
I even read that Gandhiji’s quote “You must become the change you wish to see” is widely used by Six Sigma practitioners. Mahatma Gandhi’s life and actions will continue inspiring the world for a long time to come. Long live Gandhi.