India is one of the unique countries which gained
freedom without much bloodshed. I think there are lot of management lessons
which corporate world is implementing presently which were prevalent in the
In this post I am exploring Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership
and management style, and linking it to the current management practices.
1. Walk the talk
Mahatma Gandhi preached the concept of simple living and
high thinking, although he came from an affluent Indian family. He came up with
various austere living standards and requested his followers to adopt them. His
kept his life open to public scrutiny. People may debate regarding his personal
choices but no one would raise questions on his ethics and integrity.
Irrespective of the difficulty involved, he always was able to take the high
moral ground and never compromised on his personal values. In the present
corporate world we respect the leaders who are able to walk the talk,
demonstrate ethical and principled behavior and lead by example.
2. Think out of the box
The strategy and tactics adopted during the Indian
independence struggle were unlike any other country’s revolution. Some of the
• Non-violence – A war fought on the basis of
principles without any bloodshed.
• Civil disobedience- Court arrest if the British
officials are threatening imprisonment for demanding your rights.
• Non-cooperation- The message given was maintain your
jobs with the British Empire, however do not support it regarding its practices
against Indian people. Managements today are advocating out of the box thinking
and competing strategically. The organization which implements a unique strategy
generally wins the market.
3. Brand building
Mahatma Gandhi’s personal brand has lasted 60 years
after his death without any investment. He created a brand of a simple moral man
living life on the principle of Ahimsa (non-violence). His home spun cotton
clothes, wooden shaft, leather slippers, vegetarian meals and home at the ashram
all embodied his personal brand. His character and communication depicted his
core values to the masses. We must acknowledge that fact that very few leaders
in history have as strong a brand image as Gandhi. The corporate world is
spending huge sums on advertising to build the corporate brand. We hear Tom
Peters and other management gurus talking about building the “Brand You”.
4. Competitor’s size doesn’t matter
The Indian freedom struggle gained ground by the idea of
a few committed individuals who wished to bring about a change. They envisaged
taking on the might of British Empire who had the resources, funds, weapons and
management capability. The Indian leadership team acknowledged the strengths of
the British Empire and devised a strategy which minimized those strengths. They
built a strategy on the following:
• Non-violence which required no weapons;
• Asked masses to contribute for the independence and
live frugally, hence survived on minimal resources;
• Developed local leadership across all regions under
Congress banner. Using a similar strategy Barrack Obama won the American