By M.S. Rao
This article explores “soft leadership” to achieve global peace, prosperity, and stability. It explains the causes, effects, and remedies for global conflicts and wars, outlines a blueprint to achieve global peace and prosperity. It illustrates with inspiring examples of great global leaders including Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela.
“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Presently people across the globe are getting impatient, intolerant, and agitated on others for petty issues. It appears that there is a lack of respect for others’ religions, regions, races, languages, ethnicities, cultures, and communities. Additionally, the aspirations and expectations of all stakeholders are rising rapidly. For instance, children demand more from their parents; students demand more from educators; subordinates demand more from superiors; employees demand more from employers; followers demand more from leaders, and people demand more from nations. In fact, people are becoming more rights-oriented rather than duty-oriented.
There must be a shift in the mindset of the people. There must be a need for tolerance and respect toward others. People must be duty-oriented rather than rights-oriented. Empathy is the answer to several pressing global challenges. Empathy is the ability to step into the shoes of others and look at the issues from others’ perspectives. However, presently people rarely empathize with others. When we empathize with others most of the global challenges and conflicts can be resolved easily. Through empathy, we can put an end to intolerance, impatience, and instability. Through empathy, we can resolve several global challenges amicably. Empathy is essential for global peace, prosperity, stability, and security.
Some people resort to violence to settle their scores. Some countries wage wars to settle their long-pending issues. Violence is not the solution to several global issues. Ralph Waldo Emerson rightly remarked, “Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.” Hence, people must shed their violent attitude and respect others through empathy
People often use force to settle their scores resulting in conflicts and nations use their military force resulting in wars. They hardly understand the fact that there is always room for dialogue and discussion to resolve their vexing issues. Some nations go for a war on pride and some leaders declare war to show their strength and supremacy. Some religions declare war on others to show their supremacy. Some nations go for war to divert attention from their internal challenges. Likewise, there are many reasons for alarming conflicts and wars globally.
Need for Soft Leadership
The present global scenario calls for a new leadership perspective emphasizing respect to all regions, religions, communities, creeds, and ethnicities. It calls for a new leadership perspective involving negotiation and persuasion with an emphasis on empathy. It calls for partnership, not followership. Hence, emphasize “soft leadership” to resolve various conflicts globally through discussion, dialogue, persuasion, and negotiation. This innovative leadership perspective can also be used to lead people assertively; to turnaround ailing global organizations; and to achieve organizational excellence and effectiveness.
What is Soft Leadership?
Leadership depends on three aspects – how you communicate with others; how you make decisions; and how you take action. When you can execute these three activities effectively you become a successful leader. However, to evolve as a soft leader, you must communicate with an emphasis on soft skills; make decisions by blending your head, heart, and gut; and take action keeping the ground realities and goals in your view without compromising people-orientation. There are 11 Cs that constitute soft leadership. They are character, charisma, conscience, conviction, courage, communication, compassion, commitment, consistency, consideration and contribution. It is highly challenging for people to cultivate these 11 characteristics. However, if people possess more than six traits they get into the fold of soft leadership.
How to Excel as a Soft Leader?
When you want to excel as a soft leader there must not be ‘character gap’, ‘communication gap’, ‘commitment gap’ and ‘courage gap’. When you stick to these four principles you can excel as a soft leader. ‘Treat the people the way you want to be treated’ is the old adage. But as a soft leader, you must treat all people with respect especially the people who are lower to you. The soft leaders possess humility and a servant attitude. They help their people grow beyond what people dream of growing. That is the hallmark of soft leadership.
Growing Intolerance Globally
There are several reasons for the current growing intolerance and conflicts globally. Here are some of them. People are very impatient. They want immediate results. They lack patience and perseverance. They fail to empathize with others. They try to prove their point right rather than looking at the points from others’ perspectives. They want to resort to short cuts, not smart cuts. They want to win their case through win-lose, not through win-win.
Causes for Global Conflicts
There are several causes of growing intolerance and global violence. The basic ones include scarcity of resources, a threat to one’s position or authority, ego, miscommunication, use of gut rather than head and heart, irrational thinking, superstitions, and supremacy. When some sections of people are oppressed for a long time, it leads to conflicts. Hence, understanding the root cause of the conflicts helps resolve issues amicably. At times, the fundamental forces create violence in the name of their religions. Remember, no religion preaches violence. All religions emphasize tolerance and brotherhood.
We must create a space to accommodate others. Let us be tolerant as intolerance has no place in the history of any religion and any part of the world. If you want to change society, you need citizens who are highly committed and dedicated. Hence, let us build a global society of citizens with universal brotherhood and fraternity to achieve our ultimate objective of global peace, prosperity, and stability.
Resolve Global Conflicts Amicably
Some leaders opine that militarization is the symbol of masculinity. It is, in fact, a myth indeed! The greatness lies in the person who is bearing the pain than the one who is inflicting the pain. It is the truth and non-violence wins, not violence. Mahatma Gandhi achieved India’s independence through truth and non-violence when the entire world believed in violence. Hence, there is a need to look at resolving global issues with peaceful means emphasizing what is just and right. Additionally, look at what is right or wrong, not who is right or wrong to achieve the desired outcomes.
Groom Global Citizens
Groom people as global citizens to enable them to become not only well-rounded personalities but also worthy citizens in the world. Here are some tools and techniques to achieve international peace: Be a humanist first. Have a positive, right and strong attitude. Cultivate the attitude of letting go and moving on with your life. Be magnanimous to forgive others. Accommodate others with a big heart. Demonstrate compassion. Look at the character in people, not color. Evolve as a global citizen with a global mindset rather than with a local mindset. Respect all people. Love your mother but don’t hate another person’s mother.
Mahatma Gandhi and Non-Violence
The person who puts up with an attack is stronger than the person who attacks. The person who has the stamina to bear pain is stronger than the person who inflicts pain. The person who pioneers non-violence is stronger than the person who practices violence as Mahatma Gandhi rightly remarked, “Nonviolence is a weapon of the strong.” Hence, it is essential to preach and practice non-violence than violence. Additionally, we must develop compassion toward others.
Mahatma Gandhi’s principles were not only confined to India’s freedom struggle but also relevant to the world. Martin Luther King Jr. once remarked, “If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought, acted and inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony.” Currently, the world is encountering several challenges including intolerance, impatience, and terrorism. Hence, it is essential to follow the ideas and ideals of Mahatma Gandhi especially truth and non-violence to achieve international peace
Replace Religion with Love
See good in others. Improve your attitude to make this world a better place to live. Grow as a global citizen with a universal mindset. Treat all religions as equal and respect them. Remember, no religion preaches violence. It is the misguided elements who spread wrong messages in the name of religion to create ill-will among the individuals. Above all, we must remember that given the choice between the sword and spirit, it is the spirit which is always stronger than the sword. Hence, develop the spirit and replace religion with love to promote world peace.
Soft Leadership is the Solution
It is essential to adopt soft leadership to achieve global peace, prosperity, stability, and security. I have coined this new leadership perspective which is gaining global recognition and attention. People are taking it seriously and applying it to achieve organizational excellence and effectiveness. It can be applied to individuals, organizations, and nations. Here is the description of this new leadership perspective in a nutshell:
Soft leadership is a blend of courageous leadership, thought leadership, servant leadership, and inspirational leadership. It characterizes 11C’s such as character, charisma, conscience, conviction, courage, communication, compassion, commitment, consistency, consideration and contribution. It suggests a soft approach rather than a hard approach. It believes in a transformational rather than transactional approach. It appreciates people-orientation rather than task-orientation. It underscores partnership rather than the so-called traditional command-and-control approach. It is the need of the hour for the new generation especially millennials who are eager to apply it to unlock their potential to contribute their best to organizations. It stresses on soft skills rather than hard skills. It emphasizes personality, attitude, and behavior rather than technical competency or domain knowledge which can be acquired when people possess the right attitude and behavior. Succinctly, soft leadership can be defined as the process of setting goals; influencing people through persuasion; building strong teams; negotiating them with a win-win attitude; respecting their failures; handholding them; motivating them constantly; aligning their energies and efforts; recognizing and appreciating their contribution in accomplishing the organizational objectives with an emphasis on soft skills. It is based on the right mindset, skillset, and toolset.
Love Your Mother but Don’t Hate another Person’s Mother
“I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.” – Mother Teresa
Love your mother but don’t hate another person’s mother. As your mother is precious to you, another person’s mother is equally precious to them. As your race, religion, region, language, ethnicity, culture, and community are precious to you; they are equally precious to others.
People must learn to empathize with others to make a difference in the lives of others. We need empathetic leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Dalai Lama; and religious leaders like Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad to achieve global peace, prosperity, stability, and security. Remember, what Mother Teresa said when asked what you can do to promote world peace: “Go home and love your family.” As charity begins at home, let us promote global peace by loving our families and empathizing with others first.
“War does not determine who is right – only who is left.” – Bertrand Russell
Starting a war is easy but nobody knows when it ends, where it ends, and how it ends. However, we can imagine the damage and suffering that causes to the humanity. Hence, war is not the solution to all problems. Many people die and there is a loss to nations. It brings agony to the people and takes the nations backward by many years. We have seen how many years it took for Germany and Japan to recover from the Second World War. To summarize, conflicts must be resolved amicably through discussion and dialogue. So, adopt soft leadership during the dialogue and discussion to achieve global stability, peace, and prosperity.
Note: This article is an adapted excerpt from the author’s bestselling book, “Soft Leadership: An Innovative Leadership Style to Resolve Conflicts Amicably through Soft Skills and Negotiation Skills to Achieve Global Stability, Peace and Prosperity” URL: https://www.amazon.com/Soft-Leadership-Innovative-Negotiation-Prosperity/dp/1628655909
About the Author
Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D. is the Father of “Soft Leadership” and Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India. He is an International Leadership Guru with 38 years of experience and the author of over 45 books including the award-winning ‘21 Success Sutras for CEOs’. He is a C-Suite advisor and a sought-after keynote speaker globally. He brings a strategic eye and long-range vision given his multifaceted professional experience including military, teaching, training, research, consultancy, and philosophy. He is passionate about serving and making a difference in the lives of others. He trains a new generation of leaders through leadership education and publications. His vision is to build one million students as global leaders by 2030. He advocates gender equality globally (#HeForShe).