Guru Nanak Dev Ji is the founder of Sikhism. A wise and calm person he lead a simple life. His way of life inspired many. He is thus highly revered not just by the Sikhs but many others around the world.
Today on the occasion of Guru Purab I want to help you recall the teachings of the great guru and make an attempt to explain how adopting these will help you become a superlative leader.
#1 Love your life
When you do so, you are true to yourself. You don’t indulge in malpractices, corruption or unfair means. By being true to yourself, you will find greatest joy in life.
This is an absolute must for an outstanding leader too. When you are true to yourself, you will do all that you do with utmost dedication and sincerity. When you are true to yourself, you are true to others too. People love to follow a leader true to them. They will go the extra mile for such a leader.
So if you aspire to be an outstanding leader, begin by loving your life and yourself. Embrace the life you have. Enjoy everything that you do!
#2 Serve the poor
There is an interesting incident about Guru Nanak Dev Ji. His father once offered him Rs. 20 for business. And he used this money to feed the poor. He strongly believed there is no business better than serving the poor. His ideology is still being followed in the form of langar – where people feed the poor – irrespective of what they are capable of.
Serving the poor teaches you humility. And while it is being overlooked by many, it is an important trait of a superlative leader.
While at work you are bound to make mistakes. No one’s perfect. But as a leader, if you don’t respond with an effective action for course correction, your team will eventually do to the same. They will hide their mistakes and that would be disastrous when you find out. Humility helps you give up the ego and take responsibility for your actions. When you take responsibility for your actions, people follow the suit. That takes work, business and you as a leader to a whole new level.
To be a great leader thus serve the poor. Work on your humility muscle. Practice being humble every single day.
Everyone is equal. Guru Nanak Dev Ji considered everyone equal. It didn’t matter which caste, creed, or sex the person belonged to – he treated everybody the same. Even today, the Gurudwaras are open for everyone. There is no preferential treatment based on social or financial status.
It is human to favor the person with who you form a bond. That’s how we all behave socially. But when you favor someone at work, others see you as being partial. With that lens on, every good thing you would do will be perceived negatively.
Superlative leaders aren’t partial. They treat everyone equally. And while it may sound tough, it is imperative you treat everyone in your team equally.
#4 Respect for women
He had an immense respect for women. He said, “Why disrespect the one who gives birth to the majestic kings of the world?”
The women’s place is in the kitchen – while leaders may not say this directly, sadly I have come across leaders who believe this in one way or the other. Thus when women at work take a break, it isn’t looked at positively.
As a leader, it is imperative to understand that people make an organisation. You become a superlative leader by respecting women and making them feel belonged.
#5 Selfless service
Guru Nanak Dev Ji believed that sewa (selfless service) is the way to mental peace and brings you true spiritual satisfaction.
A superlative leader also strongly believes in the philosophy of selfless service. Only when you serve your team, will you be able to grow.
So to be an outstanding leader, you must help your subordinates level up. Guide, coach and mentor them and help them grow in their career. Plan your progression. Make them capable of taking your position. And when they do, you automatically will move up the ladder.
An outstanding leader always creates more leaders!
#6 Overcome the inner evil
Guru Nanak Dev Ji always preached – if you want to achieve the greater good, you must let go of the five qualities – ego, anger, greed, attachment and lust. These are evils that trap us in Maya (the illusion) and don’t allow us to achieve our higher self.
A superlative leader, too, doesn’t exhibit any of these five evil qualities. They are then looked upon as expert decision-makers.
#7 No superstitions and caste divides
At an early age, Guru Nanak Dev Ji refused to wear janeu – the sacred thread as it divided the people in upper and lower caste. He questioned the underlying ideologies behind every religious ceremony and/or superstitions rather than blindly following them.
A superlative leader too doesn’t take things on the face value and questions everything before he acts on it.
If there are processes that have been followed over a long time at work, question to find out if they are the best. If not, can you make it better with your experience? These questions will help you perform better as a leader. You would also set an example for your team to question everything before doing it. That way they would have clarity and the outcome would be far better than normal.
#8 Have faith
Once when Guru Nanak Dev Ji visited a temple, he saw that people from the lower caste were not being allowed inside. So he decided not to visit a temple and also preached that one needs to have the faith that God is omnipresent. One doesn’t need to go to a temple to seek His blessings. One must have faith in God rather than worshipping the idol.
A superlative leader likewise has faith – in himself and his team. He believes in the capabilities of his team and protects their interest. He doesn’t believe in the facade that others create.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji believed with kindness we can solve all life problems.
Once, on his journey, he encountered a cannibal – a person who eats the flesh of other human beings. People were afraid of him. But when Guru Nanak Dev Ji showed his love and kindness on him, he gave up cannibalism and lived a noble life.
Superlative leaders are an epitome of kindness. Even in the worst of the scenarios, they act calmly and kindly. They have compassion for others. They understand the needs of the others and give them what they want.
#10 Music heals
Two musicians accompanied Guru Nanak Dev Ji wherever he traveled. The musicians sang melodious Kirtans (songs of the Gods). Guru Nanak Dev Ji believed music is the language of the soul and has the power to heal.
A superlative leader helps uncover the hidden talents of his team and gives them the due exposure.
#11 Live a life of purpose
Guru Nanak Dev Ji believed everyone incarnates with a purpose. One should discover that purpose and fulfill it.
A superlative leader helps his team to discover their purpose and guides them to lead a purposeful life.
#12 Be courageous
Guru Nanak Dev Ji said, “The Lord guides the sparrow that fights the eagle.” When someone opposes you, you must gather the courage to fight back and not give in.
A superlative leader encourages his team to speak up and not be just a mute spectator.
These teachings made Guru Nanak Dev Ji a revered Guru. These are timeless principles of being a superlative leader.
So as we celebrate Guru Purab, let’s also embrace Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings and set ourselves on the path of being a superlative leader!