999Response to "A Buddhist Perspective of Leadership & Management"
- Jul 28, 2006
Response to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheDailyEnlightenment/message/538
Response to "A Buddhist Perspective of Leadership & Management"- A TDE Reader + Shen Shi'anHS: Hi Shian, I agree too that Buddhas are perfect leaders, since they not only know all the mental world things, they also know all the physical world things. However Buddhists before they become Buddhas, definitely are not guaranteed good leaders.
SS: Yes, no unenlightened beings are guaranteed good leaders, though one can be more and more enlightened, and thus an increasingly better leader.
HS: The leader not only takes care of the welfare of its group, it needs to fulfill the mission of the group. For example commercially, the company needs to increase sales and expand overseas. Now this requires a lot of physical world knowledge, such as how to seek financing, what is capital budgetting, how to deal with exchange rates, what is a good trade contract, etc. That's why we have MBA programs. Thus the most enlightened person is not necessarily the best choice for being the leader in a commercial group.
SS: Yes, actually in the article, I was using "enlightened" in every sense of the word. Eg. one can manage in an "enlightened manner", which would also include having "Right Understanding" not just of the Dharma, but also of business skills, and "Skilful Means" as to how to use them ethically.
HS: Now even in a non-commercial group, the leader needs good physical world knowledge to meet the group's objectives. For example consider a school. The principal needs to know about what is education, how to best deliver education, what are the education tools out there, what is the latest findings on pedagogy, etc. Of course taking care of the group's welfare needs is important, but it is not the entire thing. Hence again the most enlightened person is not necessarily the best choice for being the leader even in a non-commercial group.
SS: Yes, in the scriptures, a good Bodhisattva is to be equipped with the necessary worldly skills too, which include the appropriate "arts and sciences".
HS: Now we talk about Buddhist group. Even for the Buddhist group, the most enlightened person is not necessarily the best choice. The leader needs to know about financing, marketing, logistics and current affairs. Even if the person is very good in one-to-one counseling, the enormous organizational structure disallows him to deal with every case one-to-one. He needs to implement an appropriate management structure, work flow process, and reporting and auditing process, that could run without him directly dealing with every single employee.
SS: If we are speaking of "most enlightened person", we are speaking of the person by default with the most compassion and wisdom in the group. With enough wisdom, one ideally will automatically know what skills (or knowledge, know-how) are needed and pick them up. If even the "most enlightened person" in the group is not wise enough, this person surely needs to become even more wise. Thus are there these words in the article - "He or she should be as compassionate and wise as possible, while constantly bettering oneself in these aspects."
HS: So although being more enlightened does help to become a leader, in terms of charisma, inspiration and welfare. But the leader is not spared of all the necessary physical world knowledge which he may or may not have aptitude in. If His Holiness Dalai Lama does become a national leader once more, he will have to deal with GDP growth, employment issues, foreign direct investments, and national security etc. He would have to deal with the politics of UN, IMF and WTO. He could seek the help from good advisors, but his vision for his country cannot be void of such technical dimensions.
SS: Yes. Leaders need not work alone. In fact, the best leaders know how to coordinate and delegate work to increase wanted effects.
HS: Having said that, an enlightened person does serve well in the HR. If every group has a most enlightened person serving as advisor or in the HR, then all the benefits of loving kindness and compassion, as well as company ethics, can be uphold in the group. What do you think, Shian?
SS: Er... a good HR staff should also have HR skills, which are best picked up through proper training (eg. courses). Coming up with good HR policies is almost an art or science in itself :-]
HS: P.S. Every year in the election of some Buddhist society committees, I see a dilemma of choosing base on leadership qualities or on "enlighten-ness". In some years, the "enlighten-ness" criteria wins, and activities then run in quite a mess. In some years, the leadership criteria wins, then the dharma level in the activities may get a little compromised. What is the best way to find the best leaders?
SS: Yes, this is a common problem. The best solution is for both these potential leaders to synergise and work together with as little pride as possible, such that they do not fight over the top position, but to do their best for the well-being of the society, balancing both Dharma substance, activities and fellowship. There is thus no need to compromise but synergise in a balanced Middle Path way instead. If the most enlightened in the group fails to see that, then, as mentioned, this person is not enlightened enough. Thus again are the words in brown relevant - "He or she should be as compassionate and wise as possible, while constantly bettering oneself in these aspects."HS: Thanks for your reply. :) I see your point now.