[Video] The Dhamma (Dharma) Of Leadership

In this video, we’ll take a look at the basic ideas behind the Dhamma (Dharma) of leadership, and how Buddhist thought and philosophy can be applied to ontological leadership, or leadership as a way of being.


Included in this video are my thoughts on the most powerful and effective persuasive framework ever created in history.


In the next videos, we’ll take a deeper look at the body and being fully embodied as a leader.


Video Notes:

  1. The basic beliefs, values and assumptions that the Buddha taught are applicable to many leadership behaviors
  2. Anatta
    1. A different orientation towards time
    2. Longer term orientation
      1. Instead of a linear view of existence
    3. More collective orientation
      1. Strong focus on interpersonal relations
  • The Middle Way
    1. Leads to consistent and moderate behavior
      1. Extreme positions, including strategic choices are not viewed as positively
    2. 5 Precepts/8 Fold path
      1. Ethical Behavior
    3. Dhamma can manifest itself in different aspects of leadership including
      1. Behavior
      2. Personal development
      3. Team building
      4. The use of harmony instead of conflict
      5. A more gentle approach to dealing with people
    4. The leadership style of the Buddha
      1. Very passive
      2. Sought to benefit everyone through personal development
        1. In a passive and broad way
        2. Led with a reflective and introspective approach
      3. Maintaining your own values and integrity, developing your abilities and the abilities of others
        1. “As a solid rock is indifferent tot he wind and rain, so the wise are indifferent to criticism and praise” – The Buddha
          1. The leader doesn’t falter because of difficulty or social pressure
          2. Leadership styles may change, and usually should change to fit changing situations
            • The leaders values remain constant as a rock
          3. The “Alchemist” leader
            1. The highest level of leadership
            2. Leader has the ability to transform people and organizations by blending the material and the spiritual
            3. The alchemist leader has the ability to reinvent themselves and their group
              • Not fixed in their position and leadership style

Seek constant change, taking the characteristic of “no self” management

  1. Uses charisma, symbols and metaphors to reach people
  2. Have high moral standards and are guided by the truth
  3. Open to change (anicha)
    • They recognize they are in a constant state of change themselves

Effective leadership requires adapting to never-ending change while remaining steady in your principles

  • Personal Development
    1. The point of the Dhamma
      1. In order to escape the cycle of death and rebirth continual refinements and improvements have to be made
      2. “If a man should conquer in battle a thousand and a thousand more, and another should conquer himself, his would be the greater victory, because the greatest of all victories is the victory over ones self” – The Buddha
      3. The leader places the burden of development on himself
        1. Not only himself but others development a well
        2. Dependent origination / Complex interdependency
          • Nothing exists by itself but everything has a cause

Mindfulness and self discipline are important aspects of personal development

  1. Simultaneously promotes self-determination
    • “Only a man himself can be master of himself: Who else outside could be his master? When the master and servant are one, then there is true help and true self possession.” – The Buddha

The development of others should lead to the goal of producing individuals who don’t need any supervision

A person who has internalized the mission and goals of the group and is capable of self management and being their own master

A Dhammic led group is one in which less emphasis is placed on command and control and a greater emphasis is placed on developing the ability of individuals to manage themselves

  • Team Building
    1. Dhamma is consistent with a collectivist view
    2. The concept of anatta implies that we’re not individuals, in Western terms
      1. We are not autonomous and independent entities
      2. Our identity is linked to our associations with others
      3. “All the great rivers on reaching the great ocean lose their former names and identities and are reckoned simple as the great ocean.” – The Buddha
    3. Our ability to view ourselves as part of a larger social ecosystem and make necessary sacrifices for effective team functioning requires us to transcend the “I” part of our existence
    4. The importance of individual sacrifice for the benefit of the group promotes teamwork
      1. “Whoever offers sacrifice, or whoever gets others to do so – all these are following a course of merit benefiting many others
      2. Groups that promote individualism run contrary to the idea of teamwork
        1. For the benefits of collective action to become real, we have to start thinking differently about how we structure groups and rewards systems
      3. Working In Harmony
        1. Some cultures value individual competition and say it creates greater motivation and that conflict is necessary to maintain forward momentum
        2. “Many do not know that we are here in this world to live in harmony. Those who don’t know this fight against each other.” – The Buddha
        3. Early research into the value of cooperation over competition supports the dhammic view
          1. In cooperation vs. competition studies, Johnson, et al found that cooperation inside of organizations produced superior results in terms of achievement
        4. Harmony comes from members of the group sharing common values and working towards a common goal
          1. It begins with trust and a positive view of human nature
            1. “The wise one does not judge others, not their words o deeds or what they have or have not done. The wise only contemplate their own words and deeds.”
            2. To create successful orgs, leaders should first seek excellence in themselves
          2. The alchemist leader creates a shared purpose, models good behavior and encourages kindness within the group


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