I have had several experiences over the last few days which have taught me a few lessons in effective leadership. This matters for Kadampas because we are training to be the spiritual guides, which above all, are leaders of living beings.
- If you have discretion, use it graciously. There are some things for which we have no discretion, there are rules, we cannot change them, the institution which makes them is deemed legitimate, there we have no choice. But there are other areas where we do have discretion in how we apply the rules. In these areas, our default should always be to use our discretion graciously, in the way that benefits others most. We should not be one of those who have their 3 square meters of sovereignity over the world, and we abuse everyone who comes within it just because we can.
- Don’t sacrifice what is right on the altar of outer peace. Some leaders are in fact “conflict avoiders” whose real objective is to avoid outer conflict with everyone. Such “leadership” is spineless and very often results in sub-optimal outcomes for others just because the leader is averse to conflict. Sometimes conflict is necessary. Yes, it is sometimes uncomfortable, but when appropriate we should gladly accept that discomfort as the price of doing what is right for others.
- Don’t “kiss up and kick down”, rather, if you have to, “kick up, and kiss down.” There are so many “leaders” who kiss up to their superiors, but then with those they supervise, they are abusive, controlling and dysfunctional. The superior often doesn’t know that the person is doing this, but rather thinks the employee is a model one. The subordinates know the person who is kissing up and kicking down has the favor of the big boss so they fear challenging their immediate supervisor. A good boss will be one who shelters his employees from the wrong decisions made by the big boss and will push back in order to protect those those that they supervise.
Your turn: what are some basic lessons of effective leadership your life experience has taught you?