Manage Your Business The Mahatma Gandhi Way

Manage Your Business The Mahatma Gandhi Way

Leadership & Management

GlobalLinker Staff

GlobalLinker Staff

2 Oct 2015, 10:11 — 5 min read

Some management principles are timeless and ageless. Many are derived from management books; others make their way into management books. Mahatma Gandhi, the man who led India to freedom without violence against the British colonialists, also gave us, via his actions, several insights into management practices that can be used by businesses.

 

These include:

 

Having A Clear Vision – Gandhi had a vision for the country and he clearly stated this in his actions and words. He was seeking a free India. He did everything in this drive for a free India. Business owners should also have a vision and work towards that aim.

 

Management & Leadership By Example – A good leader walks the talk. Gandhi practised what he preached. His life was an open book and he was open to criticism. Businesses owners need to do just the same to inspire and win their stakeholders’ confidence.

 

Leading By Example – Gandhi not only preached non-violence but also practised it. His simple living and diet were a classic case of leadership by example. Businesses need to send out a message too, through their actions and conduct.

 

Managing Within Resources – Gandhi was aware that while Indians did not have many resources to fight the British, the most important resource he had access to was human resources. He used this to great effect by mobilising people to end the British rule. Businesses too operate within constraints. Instead of being bogged down by these constraints, they can operate creatively to use their limited resources to their advantage.

 

Building A Team – Gandhi could not have achieved what he did all by himself. As a great leader, he knew he needed the support and services of a great team. And he mobilised a team whose members comprised diverse yet complementary skills: Sardar Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Lal Bahadur Shastri, to name a few. Remember: your team is your greatest asset and you must develop and build on this asset.

 

Communicate Gandhi-style

One of Mahatma Gandhi’s most moving speeches was made while he was in South Africa. He was protesting a new law made by General Jan Smuts, a prominent South African and British statesman, which would have Indians in South Africa fingerprinted.

In spite of the presence of the British, Gandhi’s speech against the law mobilised the people. Here are some management and communication lessons we can learn from this speech. (Watch and read the speech as depicted in Richard Attenborough’s film Gandhi.)

 

Have A Structured Flow – The speech had a structured flow and it was controlled. It had a clear objective/goal (which we can only see in hindsight). Gandhi starts with laying a clear background and getting people’s attention.

 

Use Assertiveness Skills – Gandhi’s speech is a classic display of assertiveness – controlled in choice of words and also tone and manner. It mobilised people into taking drastic action against oppression, but also contained an irate crowd that was likely to turn violent.

 

Be Transparent, With Open & Honest Communication – Surrounded by British soldiers who were there to police the meeting, Gandhi invited the soldiers to listen to what he had to say. He spoke as though he had no secrets.

 

Open With Context – In this speech, Gandhi opened with the statement “Let us begin with General Smut’s new law” and went on to describe the law and its implicationsin a manner that got people thinking: “All Indians must now be fingerprinted like criminals."

 

Be Clear & Crisp – The speech was crystal clear in terms of message and choice of words. Sentences were short and he emphasised the correct words.

 

Have Control Over Your Audience – When the crowd got restless, Gandhi quelled the mob by saying, “I praise such courage. I need such courage. Because in this cause, I too am prepared to die. (Pauses) But my friends, there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill. Whatever they do to us, we will attack no one. Kill no one. But we will not give our fingerprints, not one of us.” 

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