Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Leading From the Heart

On 12th September 2014, I attended a program on the above topic organized by the Brahmakumaris Vishwa vidyalaya, at their calm and serene retreat center called 'Happy village' in the outskirts of Chennai city.The participants were mainly senior bureaucrats of the government departments. I attended the program in view of the interesting topic and the persuasive warmth in the invitation extended by brother Eashwaran of the Sriperumbudur center. I am glad I did, because the half day prgram which the organizers described as " a dialogue with administrators" threw up a lot of food for thought and was overall an enlightening experience.

Before the program formally commenced, the volunteers (so very caring & warm) guided me to the breakfast venue and to the founder Baba's meditation room. I spend only around 10 minutes in meditation since the thought was at the back of my mind that I need to go back in time for the commencement of the program.However, the time in the meditation hall was so peaceful & fulfilling that one felt like just being there for hours.

The managerial session was chaired by Asha Behen, Director of the Delhi center of the Brahmakumaris. She set the tone for the proceedings, discussing the key words in the topic of the day viz 'leading' and 'heart'. Leading from the heart would mean not only that people agree to the decisions or rules made by you but that by your innovative ways you get them to lovingly accept the decision. While agreeing can happen from the place of the intellect, acceptance can happen only if the heart is also touched.

Ashabehen said that the session should answer the questions "How to lead from the heart?" and "What does it mean to lead from the heart?".It was expected that the answers would come not from a lecture but from a dialogue amongst the participants. Here the key note speaker sought to make a distinction between 'dialoguing' and a mere 'discussion'. While the latter could result in arguements, dialoguing involves the process of developing on each other's thoughts to come to a holistic understanding of the subject.

For the dialoguing exercise, we were split in to small groups (1) to share our own experiences of leading from the heart & arrive at the qualities exhibited during the process of a leadership decision (2) to deliberate on 3 scenarios given to us in the form of case studies for making a decsion while leading from the heart.

But before the commencement of the dialoguing session which was facilitated by sister Ranjana, Asha behen engaged in a question-answer interaction with the participants to elicit their views as to what "leading from the heart" means. she added her own thoughts to the views expressed & it was agreed that the following qualities would be visible while leading from the heart:-
  • Love, compassion,transparency, empathy
  • Recognizing/experiencing the feelings of others while deciding
  • Talking from the inner consciousness of self
  • Interacting with others guided by one's core values
  • Having a conviction about the decision as you are holding on to the truth
  • Being beyond any attachment
  • Having an open mind to ideas, accepting the experiences of others
  • Listening to the voice of the heart
  • Going beyond your built up assumptions
  • Being in the now while taking decision-not influenced by past or future
  • Being fearless since you are coming from a place of truth
In the dialoguing exercise in small groups (later all experiences shared consolidated & shared with the large group), participants related about situations when they had to take a difficult decision affecting other humanbeings as employees and how they chose to rely on their heart more than the head .As for example there were occasions when an employee was to be conveyed a decision of dismissal. The activity was done with empathy appreciating his situation, imparting to the person confidence to face the future & giving suggestions on the avenues & possibilities of alternative employment.

The discussions reminded me of another incident related in the book " 50 Soul stories-The sagas of management monks"written by the distinguished management Guru and author Moid Siddiqui. The real life story listed under the title "Holy disciplinary proceedings" tells about a theft that had taken place in the BHEL company canteen when a few laddus (sweets) were allegedly stolen by the cook.The General manager (Personnel) wanted strict action to be taken & appointed Mr Siddiqui to conduct a prima facie enquiry.

But his immediate boss, junior in designation to the GM, told him that he wanted him to set an example in the history of disciplinary cases & conduct a 'holy' disciplinary enquiry! " Find out what made the cook steal the laddus? Does he have too many children? Are they half fed? Perhaps his beloved young daughter demanded sweets from him- there could be many causes!" He advised Siddiqui not to embarras the cook by too much probing and handed him a 10 rupee note "Take some sweets with you for his children.I am sure they need it." Mr Siddiqui says that he was stunned by the humane approach of his boss and the incident served as a guideline throughout his career.

As I bid farewell and drove away from the serene "Happy Village", there was the satisfied feeling of a half day well spent.Not only did the organisers lovingly serve us food in the form of lunch but food for thought as well by giving  the participants in senior level positions, a glimpse of the great possibilities in leading from the heart.

The world would be a much better place if all of us in leadership positions, led from the heart...