Leadership Management: The Case of Mahatma Gandhi

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Biography of Mahatma Gandhi

After his birth in 1869, Mahatma Gandhi was named Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He was born in India, in a place known as Porbandar. He was among the most revered and honored leaders in political and spiritual matters in the 1900s. He assisted the people of India to attain freedom through peaceful resistance. He was therefore regarded as the father and founder of India. The people of India gave him the name Mahatma which according to them meant great soul. When he was thirteen years old, he got married to Kasturba who was his age mate, a marriage that was organized by their parents. He went to London where he pursued law and later flew back to India and started practicing in 1891. He was involved in a contract to carry out legal duties in South Africa for one year. This was the time when the country was still under the control of the British(Rosenberg, 2012).

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Background in which Gandhi Operated

When Gandhi clamored for his rights on the basis that he was British, he suffered humiliation and abuse. He discovered that all Indians went through the same treatment. He remained in South Africa for a period of twenty-one years as he tried to ensure that the people of India got their rights. He came up with an action mechanism referred to as Satyagraha that worked on the basis of truth, courage and non-violence. He held a belief that the behavior of people was more crucial than their achievements. Satyagraha encouraged civil disobedience and non-violence since these were considered effective ways through which social and political goals were achieved. Gandhi returned to the country in 1915 and after a period of fifteen years, he assumed leadership of the nationalist movement of India.

Through the application of Satyagraha principles, Gandhi was at the forefront in campaigning for Indians to gain independence. His activities led to his arrest several times in India and South Africa. According to him, it was honorable to serve jail terms for a worthy reason. In total, the political activities he was engaged in earned him seven years of imprisonment (Biography of Mahatma Gandhi, n.d).

Leadership Skills of Mahatma Gandhi

In his leadership, Mahatma Gandhi exhibited many leadership skills that were emulated by other leaders. The first leadership skill that caused him to succeed was his spirituality. He successfully incorporated spirituality into his leadership because during the times when other leaders called for violence, he embraced peace and love. He loved all people including his enemies since he believed they were his friends. The second leadership skill he used was discipline. His belief was that he became more committed to pursuing his goals when his self-discipline was challenged. He was committed to the extent that he was prepared to either free his people or die for them. He did extraordinary things in a bid to improve his discipline. The third skill was integrity. Gandhi could not accept any advice that was against his non-violence principle. He was prepared to serve jail terms rather than give in to pressure. He was also characterized by the definiteness of purpose in that he had a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve and how he was to achieve it(Dalton, 2011).

Leadership Type and Style of Mahatma Gandhi

Leadership is the process through which an individual influence other towards the achievement of a common goal. Some people think that it is a trait or characteristic that is inherent in an individual but this is not usually the case(Lussier & Achua, 2011). As the father of the Indian nation, Mahatma Gandhi had a unique leadership style that characterized him. He reinvented the existing rules in order to handle situations when the rest of the methods failed. He defied traditions since he knew that the British could not be fought by force. As a result, he decided to use a totally different approach in his fight against the British. He capitalized on the power of the common people and convinced men and women to fight in order to achieve a unified nation. He did not bother about the limited resources because his main motivation was to achieve a common agenda (Palestine, 2011).

He used a leadership style that could have been referred to as follower-centric. His leadership style considered the prevailing conditions before making a decision on a particular strategy. His emphasis was on the adoption of a leadership style that depended on the existing circumstances. During his stay in South Africa, he wore suits and ties during the launch of his protests. When he returned to India, he changed to Khadi and nonviolent protests. In a nutshell, he practiced the situational type of leadership (Baghel, 2012).

Achievements of Mahatma Gandhi

In his lifetime, Gandhi had many achievements both for himself and for his country. When he returned to India, his focus was to empower people and encourage them to fight for their freedom. The Satyagraha movement continued to gain strength until the British felt that they could not tolerate it any longer, so they decided to let Indians rule themselves. While the struggle for freedom was on course, Gandhi continually developed ideas that were included in a new social order after the British left. He argued that it did not make sense to drive away the British and retain the governance system that was centralized, violence-based and exploitative. In order to achieve his envisaged new social order that was devoid of violence, he designed a trinity. This trinity constituted most of the achievements that defined his reign (Chakrabarty, 2011).

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Saryodaya, which meant uplifting all people, was the first component of the trinity. The type of governance that was practiced by the western countries was not preferred by Gandhi since it was characterized by majority rule. His intention was to serve both the minority and the majority without any divisions that segregated them. Democracy was also limited in that it did not fully cater to human interests. When combined with capitalism, it favored a few individuals who had capital while its combination with socialism favored the majority, but this did not eliminate its limitations. Saryodaya focused on care for the whole earth and its inhabitants, among them rivers, forests, animals and land. Gandhi considered life as sacred, hence he encouraged people to respect life (Hatt, 2002).

The second part of the trinity that was developed by Gandhi was Swaraj or self-government. This was characterized by a dual aspect. Its first aspect was that it worked to introduce government structures for social transformation that were participatory, decentralized and of a small-scale nature. On the other hand, there was an implication of self-restraint, transformation and self-discipline. Gandhi strived to establish ethical, ecological, moral and spiritual foundations because according to him, the world had the ability to satisfy the needs of everybody but not their greed.

The third component of the trinity which was an achievement for him was Swadesi or the local economy. He did not encourage mass production but instead valued production by the people. According to him, work was an important necessity for life hence people were supposed to work with their hands. He promoted competitive trading, transportation of goods for long distances and continuous economic growth. His other achievement was his efforts to champion the solidarity of Hindu-Muslims (Kumar, 2008).

Influence and Impact of Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi impacted and influenced many leaders and political movements. Individuals who led movements that agitated for civil rights in the US among them James Lawson and Martin Luther King relied on the materials he had written as they developed non-violence theories. He also impacted positively South Africans who were fighting against apartheid in their country. In particular, Nelson Mandela was inspired by the actions of Gandhi hence he did not relent in his efforts to fight for the freedom of South Africans.

The life and teachings of Gandhi were a great inspiration to many people who regarded him as their role model. Others committed their lives to spread the ideas that he believed in. Individuals like Romaine Rolland from Europe discussed him in their written works. Others like Maria Moura, a Brazilian feminist and anarchist also wrote about him. In 1931, a famous physicist from Europe known as Albert Einstein wrote letters to him and described him as a role model for generations that were to be born. Individuals who got an opportunity to spend some time with him returned to their countries and shared his ideas with other people. It was therefore evident that he influenced and impacted many people positively (How Mahatma Gandhi Influenced the Influencial Minds, 2010).

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Exercise of Power by Mahatma Gandhi

Rather than use his power to rule people and suppress them, Gandhi used it to inspire people and encourage them to look for justice and truth. He was a unique person who showed love to all including those who fought him in order to establish peace without using violence.

He believed that there were two types of power. The first type was secured through fear of being punished while the second one was as a result of deeds of love. Power that was based on love was the most effective one when compared with the one based on fear of punishment. Although there was a certain force associated with power, it could not surpass the power associated with love. Since it was a time of turmoil and unrest all over the world, Gandhi used his power to convince the people that the greatest force was within themselves. He described the force as that of tolerance and love for all people. In his life, he used his power to fight against the use of force by the British in his country. He changed the thoughts of many people to demand justice using peaceful means.

Gandhi believed that the use of his power in the fight for the rights of humanity and increased justice was supposed to incorporate even those who did not agree with him. He used his power to bring peace to the world by looking for truth that liberated mankind (Patel, 2008).

Reference List

Baghel, K 2012. A presentation on LeadershipStyle of Mahatma Gandhi. Web.

Biography of Mahatma Gandhi n.d., 2012, Web.

Chakrabarty, B 2011, Social and political thought of Mahatma Gandhi ,Taylor & Francis, New York.

Dalton, D 2011, Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action , Columbia University Press, New York.

Hatt, C 2002, Mahatma Gandhi, Evans Brothers, London.

How Mahatma Gandhi Influenced the Influencial Minds 2010, Web.

Kumar, S 2008, Mahatma Gandhi’s achievement. Web.

Lussier, R & Achua, C 2011, Leadership: Theory, Application and Skill Development, South-Western Cengage Learning, New York.

Palestine, R 2011, Going Back to the Future: A Leadership Journey for Educators, R&L Education, New York.

Patel, S 2008, Mahatma Gandhi’s 5 Teachings To Bring About World Peace. Web.

Rosenberg, J 2012, Gandhi – Biography of Mahatma Gandhi. Web.

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