5 workplace lessons to learn from Mahatma Gandhi
The frontrunner of India’s Independence movement, M.K. Gandhi is synonymous with nonviolent civil disobedience. But that’s not all he’s known for. Gandhi also stands for honesty, truth, compassion, service and sacrifice. He may have preached these ideals in another era, but his legacy remains relevant today and in every sphere of life.
Here are five lessons that you can learn from him to get ahead at the workplace:
Create a talent pool
One of the most important lessons any leader or manager can learn from Gandhi is that to take your plan to fruition, you need a talented team. Leading India’s freedom struggle wasn’t easy but Gandhi’s talent pool - Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Maulana Azad, Sarojini Naidu and C. Rajagopalachari – helped him every step of the way.
Tip: Being a boss is easy, but being a leader means you need to be capable enough to lead from the front and keep the team with you every step of the way.
Communication is critical
Gandhi knew the importance of communicating his vision of a free India to the common man. To further this, he chose to travel a lot - always in third class train compartments to get connected to more people. He started magazines and personally replied to most of the letters he received to get his point across to people.
Tip: Communicating and sharing plans with the team makes all the members feel connected; they feel the leader is talking to them, not at them - a factor that can lift their morale and productivity.
Manage conflicts calmly
Gandhi led a team of stalwarts, each of who had their own thoughts, ideas and plans. But Gandhi did not let the many differences in opinion affect the way ahead. He ensured that he resolved each and every conflict - big or small - so that his team did not deviate from their mission: winning India her independence.
Tip: Work to neutralize or minimize conflict at all times. If you allow it to grow and run rampant, you run the risk of creating silos and internal disruption.
Seek growth for all
Gandhi coined the term Sarvodaya, meaning “universal uplift” or “progress of all” in 1908. Back then, he meant it to be a social movement in post-Independence India to ensure that self-determination and equality reached all strata of India society. The thought behind it was universal growth and progress opportunities for all so as to develop everyone’s potential.
Tip: Growth doesn’t come from pulling each other down. If you help a colleague, be it a superior, co-worker or junior, get ahead, it will ensure new opportunities for you.
Stay the course
In Gandhi, India had a leader who could have commanded her millions to war with no protests. But he chose to be patient and take the path of non-violence. Fast after fast, rally after rally, others may have dithered but Gandhi never lost his patience. In his own words: “To lose patience is to lose the battle.”
Tip: Patience is a virtue that’s often under-rated at the workplace. Whether you are a newbie or the boss, being patient will see you through tough situations, sudden challenges and tricky issues.
Last but not the least, it’s important to remember to “be congruent, be authentic, be your true self”. Gandhi thought nothing of attending round table meets and meeting viceroys in his loin cloth. And ultimately it was this frail little man in the loin cloth who gave the British the biggest beating they ever had to take.
Inspired to take your work to another level? Search for something that gels with your ideology here.