Buddhist Management of Leadership
Buddhism serves the solutions to the problem-ridden leadership to which the modern management does not have any access. At the time when the Western scholars are pondering over the organizational crises for their remedies, Buddhism asserts it peaceful solutions empirically developed some millennium ago. If described comparatively, the management leadership just instigates people (the followers) to multiply their desires adding fuel to their aspirations of worldly pleasures while Buddhism has the postulates that sensual and mundane desires only prevent them from attaining happiness and spiritual pleasure.
Any leadership devoid of the merits of the noble eightfold path and the Dasa Raja Dharma ( ten royal virtues) is incomplete and is beleaguered by hatred, greed and passion. Only the leadership with wholesome action, effort and thought can drive the followers towards right livelihood and happiness. Buddhist leadership management is directed towards the maximum freedom of the followers. Unlike management theory, power in Buddhism is transformed into empowerment of the followers and control into the compassion. Buddhism urges every followers to be the bodhisattva and the Buddha while followers in the contemporary world are obliviously ignored and tenaciously subordinated. Hence, Buddhist leadership has the solutions to the crises and it further assumes that even the doctrinal leadership can lead the people and society towards happiness. That is, Buddhism is surviving and flourishing at every corner of the globe even after the the Great Nirvana of the Buddha.
Key words: Deliverance, disrepute, unwholesome, explication, disillusion, compassion, suffering, happiness, detachment, wellbeing, saviour etc.
Leadership has been so far a system approach to management. Organizational management has expectations of increasing productivity and efficiency of interdependent divisional sections or units. Undoubtedly, human resource is the most active and intelligent means of production, yet its excessive dependency over the authoritative directives has also been proved to be counter-productive resulting in low level of productivity and production in organizations. To the extent that even sometimes the organizational collapses are entirely held responsible to the slackness of workforce and below the standard of working environment being obscurely indifferent towards the faulty downward moving policies and programmes of organization. Leadership theories in management literature suggest more or less the common views of motivating personnel towards their better performance and productivity, which is itself conditional in terms of organizational behaviour and the character.
Likewise, management leadership very often emphasizes on traits-bearing personality as the leadership character adding some other eligible qualifications as its requirements. It is understood as a process whereby an individual influences a group of individual to achieve a common goal. Whatsoever the management till date has observed leadership from the elevation of lofty materialistic goals is not proven as flawless. That is all because the human factor gains little preference as against the interest-guided goals of organization.
Interestingly, some critics have become exception to declare the end of leadership on the ground that the leader-follower relation has changed. The explosive growth of leadership industry has formed a view that leading is a path to power, prestige and money, a medium for achievement and a mechanism for creating change. But conversely, the parallel truth exists that the leadership has made the followers disappointed, disillusioned. The consequential effect results in disrepute over the leadership. As a result of cultural evolution and technological revolution, the balance of power has shifted with leaders becoming weaker and the followers stronger.
Leadership, now, has become administrative-oriented than that of idea-oriented. The western scholars are not satisfied with modern leadership explication but are expressing their views in opposite. Due to waning implications of value based leadership, many of the leaders are allegedly engulfed in scandals and scores of criticisms including ethical ones are being raised. Hence, the academic and scholarly discourse has shifted to the understanding of good followership.
At the time when the management leadership is being heavily criticized, the Buddhist management of leadership is taking on the modern challenges that the corporate or community leadership could not solve them.
Surprisingly enough, what the managerial leadership provokes among the followers with the sham effect of motivation, the Buddhist leadership ignores the same and leads to the sublime happiness of them. That is, the leadership with divergent responsibility creates desires for the followers in what it is practiced today, while Buddhist management of leadership helps the followers surpassing the desires without suppressing them. For, the sensual (evil) desires are the causes of suffering and only the adaptation of the Noble Eightfold Path is the way to the cessation of suffering in Buddhism.
So far as the societal issues are concerned, ethical leadership is the addressing of the most sensitive issues the society faces- issues of access to the basic rights of all human beings: to freedom, to justice, and to equity, but equally important, to responsibility and to duty. This is the manifestation of the inevitability of virtuous leadership in action whether it is the societal problem to be solved or the corporate ones. Buddhist management practice of leadership is closely associated with the Noble Eightfold Path accompanied by the essence of five precepts viz. abstaining from killing, abstaining from stealing, abstaining from adultery, abstaining from lying and loose speech and abstaining from intoxicants and drugs. Abstaining from unwholesome deeds is to guide oneself and others to the path of ultimate goals, the goals of happiness of all households in society. Worthiness of leadership is bestowed upon the adherence to the righteousness. That is, a righteous leader only provides lawful protection, shelter and safety for all if he rules by righteousness (Dhamma) only. Likewise, a righteous leader who relies on the law of the righteousness will be capable enough to protect sovereignty of the state and freedom of the people wherein hostility turns into friendliness and sufferings into blissfulness. The most promising reasons for better governance and rulings emerge from the quality and dynamism of leadership that the Buddhism ensures. In this sense, Buddhism offers the prima facie solutions to the leadership management.
A. Buddhist Pathway to Leadership Management
1. Management of Leadership By Virtues
Of the three divisions of the Noble Eightfold Path, virtue (Sila or morality) comprises of right speech, right action and right livelihood. In Pali, right speech is Samma Vacca. The word samma has a sense of being perfected or completed and vacca refers to words or speech. This is to ensure communication with the followers by gaining an insight into the inner as well as outer world. Right action refers to wholesome action freed from all malicious practices. All ideal actions represent the karmic effects. Avoiding selfish attachment, right action encourages the wholesome deeds for the utmost benefit to the followers. Right action is part of Buddhist doctrine of cause and consequences. Suffering is the consequence of karma. It is to refrain from taking the life of others beings, taking what is not given, lying, sexual misconduct etc. Right livelihood accounts for a moderate livelihood maintained through good deeds. Wrong livelihood causes suffering to others and right livelihood brings happiness for all. The leadership management encourages all to work for goodness of oneself and for others.
2. Leadership Management by Concentration
Buddhist management of leadership often prescribes the right efforts activated by the will of non-arising of evil and unskillful qualities. Though considered to be a process of inner transformation, it would have considerable effect on the followers. The leader itself bears the proven qualities of spirituality which the others follow suit. Right mindfulness brings mind and body together in a relaxed form so that the understanding of truth can be viewed solemnly. It is to be detached from sensual pleasure and develop right understanding. It makes someone the most conscious within oneself and outside. Leadership with mindfulness will be able to reach the in-depth understanding of the problems and potentiality of the followers. Similarly, Right Concentration is a kind of singleness of mind equipped with the other seven factors: right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort and right mindfulness.
3. Leadership Management by Wisdom
Right view is to develop an understanding of karma so that a leader can overturn unwholesome desires by the wholesome ones. It has a reflection on almsgiving, offering, generosity and sensual detachment. Knowledge and understanding are the pre-requisites for handling situation for the good of many. Right thought spearheads towards the commitment of action with good intention and emerges out of the thoughts of renunciation, non-harming and non-violence which are all concerned with the wellbeing of others.
Buddhist management of leadership primarily focuses on the development of virtuous leadership. Buddhist school of thought never dissociates leadership from other fellow beings, rather it has made leadership more flexible that its appropriateness can be best fitted in every situation.
B. Pre-requisites of Leadership
Dated back to two and a half thousand years at the time of its origin, Buddhism in the management of leadership had developed its fundamental characters canonically known as Dasa raja dharma (Ten Royal Virtues) . These ten principal characters viz., Dana, Sila (Morality), Pariccaga (Altruism), Ajjava (Honesty), Maddava (Gentleness), Tapa (Self-controlling), Akkodha (Non-anger), Avihimsa (Non-violence), Khanti (Forbearance) and Avirodha (Non-opposition) are the integrity of a system to leadership management.
Dana (generosity) with full of delightfulness destructs greed, hatred and delusion. It keeps the donor away from the interest of amassing wealth. Instead, it offers in charity the wealth additionally acquired to the needy without craving or attachment. Thus generosity enriched by wisdom is the highest type of giving. Of the three divisions of Noble Path, Sila comprises three rules viz., right speech, right action and right livelihood. They focus on the purification of mind, body and action. They reward freedom from remorse, rapture, tranquility, liberation from defilements, and vision and knowledge with regard to deliverance. Leadership containing human character is to be prepared to give up personal comfort, name and fame in the interest of people. Similarly, leadership deserves truthful honesty for the people. It is not to cheat its people and become disloyal to the nation. Leadership possesses good-natured disposition even at the harassed situation. Retaining yogic discipline, it destroys passion and gets freedom from any anger as it is fetter to realization. Non-violence is regarded to be divine spiritual energy. it assumes that hurting others is to hurt oneself. Patience refers to tolerate hardships, difficulties and insults without losing temper while non-opposition is a moral law of Dharma that requires such a leader/ruler to be benevolent (Adosa), moral (Sila) and not to at contrary to the will of the people (Avirodha).
Modern management theory moves around the leadership phenomena ignoring the fact that the subordinates too have key roles in its success. The scholars are not lagging behind suggesting 101 leadership qualities for instance, standards, confidence , courage, humor, passion, ethical etc, if borne all, the leader transcends the human characters without having any weaknesses while some others emphasize on adaptation of four qualities such as honesty and integrity, drive (achievement, motivation, ambition, energy, tenacity and initiative), self-confidence and vision, and cognitive ability. Though Buddhism explicates thirty-two physical marks of a great man , but it gives more assertions on three pathways and ten principles of leadership. This is to say that Buddhism never favours the absolutism but suggests to be examined in practice.
C. Followers-Centred Management of Leadership
The leadership that is practiced today is allegedly criticized that it is not follower-friendly. Noam Chomsky is pioneering the campaign against sham leadership whether it is in corporations or in community. The followers are given the subordinated status and are subjected to acts or the works. On contrary, Buddhism has set out rules for the disciples (the followers) so that what is preached can be easily understood and adapted. In Buddhism, the follower at first examines the leader skillfully, then follows him skillfully and finally emulates his realization and actions skillfully. Due to the conflict of interests, now the relation between leader and follower is being aggravated.
Buddhism has given options to the followers whether or not to accept leadership. No followers are advised coercively to follow the rulings if they think they do not deserve for adaption.
Come, Kālāmas. Do not go by oral tradition, by lineage of teaching, by hearsay, by a collection of scriptures, by logical reasoning, by inferential reasoning, by reflection on reasons, by the acceptance of a view after pondering it, by the seeming competence of a speaker, or because you think, “The ascetic is our teacher.’ But when you know for yourselves, “These things are wholesome, these things are blameless; these things are praised by the wise; these things, if undertaken and practised, lead to welfare and happiness,’ then you should engage in them.
Buddhism ensures sovereignty of the followers (disciples) to live with full of dignity. It further states that everyone can reach the state of Bodhisattva and the Buddha. Hence, Buddhism guarantees the six freedoms of its followers:
• The Assurance of Free Inquiry
• Salvation without a Saviour
• The Freedom of Expression
• The Autonomy of Moral Judgement
• The Right to Dissent
• Free will and Responsibility
As such, Buddhist management of leadership as regard the followers is compatible with the requirements of any organizations and social institutions.
D. Leadership Building in Buddhism
Buddhism stands on three jewels : the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha. Leadership too cannot exist alone. Therefore, it contains the intelligence (Wisdom), the principles (the Dharma) and the organization (the Sangha). In what it functions is the welfare of all sentient beings in general and the humanity in particular. The Mahayana texts reveal that there were eighty the foremost and the great disciples generally reputed as in the status of Buddhist leadership like that of the bodhisattva who attained the enlightenment and the Buddha who ultimately attained the Nirvana. Each of them had distinguished knowledge of mundane, supramundane and celestial events. Sariputta was the Marshall of the Dharma; Mahakaccana- the master of Doctrinal Exposition, Mahamoggalana- the master of psychic power; Mahakassapa- the father of the Sangha; Ananda- the guardian of the Dharma; Khema-the wisest nun etc.
Buddhist leadership building has two ways: experienced-based leadership and knowledge-based leadership. The seniority divisions of monks in the Order are made on the basis of the term-service offered by the monks. The canonical texts ranks monks/nuns on the basis of following preconditions:
samanera — a novice monk who has yet to receive higher knowledge
ordination navaka — a newly ordained monk
nissaya-muttaka — a monk who has spent five years in the monkhood
majjhima — a monk who has spent between five to ten years in the Order (middle rank)
thera — a monk who has spent ten years or more in the monkhood and is eligible to be a preceptor (upajjhaya, one who ordains other monks)
maha-thera — often used to refer to a monk who has spent twenty years or more in the Order
The second category of leadership falls under the knowledge acquired by the monks and the nuns. Once, the Buddha summoned all His disciples to His presence and conferred the titles of First and Second Chief Disciples of the Sangha respectively on the Venerables Sariputta and Maha Moggallana. At this, some monks were displeased and complained among themselves that the Buddha should have given the rank of Chief Disciples to those who ordained first such as the five Ascetics or to Yasa and his friends or the thirty Bhaddavaggiya (fortunate) monks or else to the three Kassapa brothers. Instead He had bypassed all those Great Elders and given the title to the ‘youngest monks’ i.e. those who ordained last. This instance makes clear how a well versed monk is chosen to the higher position as against the elderly monks who had served the Order for years.
Buddhism in short is an ever innovative management science. It provides solutions to the worsening condition of enterprises by developing a rational leadership on one hand and a welfare-driven leadership in community on the other. Besides this, Buddhism does not deem necessary to have human intelligence for leadership. Even the doctrine or the philosophy can lead the human beings to the path of deliverance as Buddhism is surviving and gaining greater importance in today’s crisis-ridden world. Anyway, Buddhist leadership management is a discipline that develops leadership bestowed upon the essence of virtue, wisdom and concentration.
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