The Daivi Leadership model is based on the daivi sampad discussed in the sixteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. It is also based on the life of Krishna as a leader and on his teachings. Besides these, in developing the Daivi model of leadership, I have used insights from the wisdom of the Vedas and the Upanishads as well as from Indian leadership philosophy as discussed in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the Arthashastra, Tirukkural and other ancient Indian literary works. The Daivi model of leadership is a contrast to the Asuri model of leadership, which I have developed from the asuri sampad as discussed by the Bhagavad Gita and leadership thoughts in the texts mentioned above. These two twin leadership models form the extreme ends of a continuum, the Daivi Leadership being the best and the Asuri Leadership being the worst. In the ultimate analysis, Daivi Leadership focuses on light that ennobles the life of all people involved, whereas Asuri Leadership focuses on power for its practitioners, utilized for dominating others and creating wealth through exploitation. Eventually however, Asuri Leadership leads to all-round misery.
I have been teaching both the Daivi Leadership model and the Asuri Leadership model for the last couple of years at XLRI School of Business and Human Resources, Jamshedpur. These models are taught in detail as part of my course in Indian Philosophy for Leadership Excellence. What follows is a brief summary of the Daivi Leadership model.
The Bhagavad Gita lists daivi sampad as fearlessness, purity of heart, generosity, sacrifice, compassion, absence of covetousness, vigour, fortitude, etc. Asuri Sampad is described as hypocrisy, arrogance, self-conceit, anger, harshness, ignorance, etc.
As other types of leaders have, the Daivi Leader too has a powerful vision and mission, which in the case of the daivi leader is a noble one. He is passionate about his mission and his commitment to his mission is total. The Daivi Leader shows the willingness to sacrifice his name and his life itself at the altar of his cause.
While the Daivi Leader is highly moral, his morality is often different from that of the society to which he belongs because he functions from a higher moral plane. He also raises his followers too to a higher moral plane, as the transformational leader does.
The Daivi Leader shows the same deep commitment to his followers as he shows to his mission and never abandons them. He treats their needs as their needs and their problems as his problems. He sees his happiness in their happiness, his success in their success. He considers as good not what pleases him but what is good for his followers and sees their welfare as his welfare. His care for his people is that of a pregnant woman to the child in her womb. Just as she constantly thinks about that child and lives for it and does nothing that will harm it even if she loves to do it for herself, he too lives for his followers and does nothing that will harm them.
The Daivi Leader has all the qualities that the Bhagavad Gita lists as daivi sampad and suffers from none of the evil qualities the Gita speaks of as asuri sampad. He is highly autonomous and has both great strength and vulnerability. He does not believe in hiding behind masks or playing helpless but accepts himself as he is.
In spite of problems facing him, the Daivi Leader retains his self-mastery. This helps him in retaining his serenity, which is a basic requirement for clear perceptions, unerring intuitions and right decision making. He has the energy and freshness of youth, has the quality of flowing, is childlike and is highly creative. Because of his originality and creativity, he is an expert in thinking outside the box.
For the Daivi Leader, his mission comes before his ego. For this reason, he is willing to accept injuries to his ego in the process of achieving his mission. He is also willing to serve, without occupying positions of authority, as the servant leader does. He can let go of things, which makes him very flexible where required. Because of his flexibility, he knows when to be firm and when to yield. He knows when to assert himself and when to gracefully surrender in the interest of his mission. Though he is generally gentle with people because of his sensitivity, he can also be tough if the situation requires it.
While being passionately in love with the world and life, the Daivi Leader also knows how to withdraw into himself and remain contented in the solitude of his inner sanctuary.
He is interested in what the Upanishads call preyas – immediate satisfaction, short term goals – but never loses sight of shreyas – long term good, which is his real interest. In the same way he is interested in both abhyudaya and nisshreyasa – prosperity in the material sense and prosperity in the spiritual sense. He sees life as a sacred yajna, a holy sacrifice, and looks upon his leadership too as such. He has both the passion of a devotee and his humility. In work he is a karma yogi.
The Daivi Leader trusts people and in their essential goodness. Because of his trust for people, he creates an atmosphere of trust in his organization. The Daivi Leader’s presence is that of a sattvic person – unlike the tamasic person who sucks up your energy and leaves you drained, and unlike the rajasic person who both energises you and makes you restless, the Daivi Leader energises you and at the same time help you reach your inner serenity. Like Krishna in the Mahabharata, at his highest level, he is gunatita, beyond all the three gunas.
Nyasa – the sense of detachment and renunciation – is part of the Daivi Leader’s attitude towards people and life. While he passionately cares for his people and is intensely concerned about them, he is not carried away by his care and concern. He is able to detach himself from them and is able to look at them objectively and make clear assessment of them and their situations.
The Daivi Leader is motivated more by the need to give than by the need to get. He is not driven by deficiency motivation. At the organizational and at the personal level, he has the three purusharthas of dharma, artha and kama – virtue, wealth and pleasures – balanced.
Speaking of the effectiveness of Daivi Leadership, ancient India had achieved great economic, cultural, educational, ethical, philosophical and spiritual heights and high standards of living for its people. This was possible because of the Daivi Leadership it practiced.