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Leadership Lessons from Gandhi

By James Court

We have a winner! After matchups against Dwight Eisenhower, Bill Gates, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, and Abraham Lincoln, your votes crowned Mahatma Gandhi as the champion of our first annual Leadership Bracket.

It was a grueling tournament across three weeks, a trust test of strength and endurance. No one would argue that “Bapu” is underserving of the honor.

Leader BracketIn examining what made Gandhi such a great leader, we looked back at what the man actually said. Here are a few of our favorite Gandhi quotes and our take on how you can apply them to your leadership today.

“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.”

Leadership Lesson: A workplace of employees who always share the same opinion is a good indicator that new ideas are needed. It takes time to develop a culture of innovation, but having employees who are comfortable sharing differing opinions without fear of repercussions will be worth your effort.

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”

Leadership Lesson: These words were true when Gandhi spoke them over 60 years ago, but they ring even truer today. Just as strength is not automatically an indicator of leadership, the most gifted individual contributors are not always the best leaders. Bringing out the best in others, even when they feel they have nothing else they can do, requires a different skill set.

 “Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”

Leadership Lesson: Today is not the same as yesterday, and tomorrow is not the same as today. Circumstances are always changing and if you don’t evolve as a leader to adjust to those circumstances, you could soon find yourself left behind.  Try new things; learn from your failures but don’t forget to learn from your successes as well. 

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Leadership Lesson: If you want your staff to make a change, you better be willing to make the change yourself! Leading by example builds camaraderie, and leading without example will end with resentment. 

“A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.”

Leadership Lesson: Culture, whether it’s for a nation or an organization, resides in its people.As a leader, remember this quote if your business is going through trying times. In the end, it will be your team that carries you through to the other side, and it’s your job to hold the team together when they feel they can’t make it.

James Court is a marketing associate and social media specialist at DDI.

Posted: 10 Apr, 2014,
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