The Buddha has often been described as one of the greatest leaders of all time. But just what characterizes a good leader? What are the duties and qualities of goodleadership? And what can we learn from the Buddha as a leader that we can apply to our chaotic world?
Lesson # 1 : The Leader as VisionaryLike the captain of a ship, a leader must have a definite goal; only then can he chart his courseand steer his ship in the right direction. Having given up his royal rights, wealth and family, PrinceSiddhartha had one goal - to find the cause of suffering and a way out of suffering. Despite muchhardship and setback, he never veered from his course but persevered till he gained Enlightenment.
He made it his mission to lead all sentient beings out of the samsaric cycle of suffering. It is this vision which defined his forty-five years of teaching and shaped his role as leader of an order (sangha) and a following that is still growing strong today.
Guided by this vision, the Buddhas mission was an all-embracing one. It is a missionfounded on compassion and love for all sentient beings, regardless of race, creed or status quo. Addressing his first group of disciples, the Buddha instructed them to go forth and spread the teachings for the good and happiness of the many.
Lesson # 2 : The Leader as Role ModelA leader must be an exemplary figure, someone we can respect and emulate. The Buddha,having purified himself through many lifetimes, embodied all the Perfections (paramita). Hewas extraordinary, virtuous and righteous in every thought, word and deed. He says as hedoes and does as he says. Such integrity and consistency won him the trust of his followers.
As a leader, the Buddha led by example. His simple and humble lifestyle is a reflection of his teachings. In his daily routine, the Buddha wasted no time on idleness and frivolity. For forty-five years, he devoted his time and effort for the good of others, starting his day before dawn and working till midnight.
Compare this with many world leaders who live in the laps of luxury while half of the worlds population sufferfrom poverty and hunger, andwe can understand why manypeople lament the lack of good leaders in our times. In his advice to the rulers of histime, the Buddha emphasized the importance of leadership according to the Dharma.
Lesson # 3 : The Leader as MediatorAs a leader, the Buddha demonstrated both skills in mediation and impartiality in judgment.In the Ummagga Jataka, as Prince Mahausadha, the Bodhisattva (the Buddha in a previousbirth) showed his ability to resolve problems and arguments. As advisor to the King, hedisplayed wit and intelligence in the protection of his people.
The Buddha displayed his skills at resolving conflicts between opposing parties on severaloccasions. Once a dispute broke out between the Sakyans and the Koliyas. Unable to arrive at an agreement over the distribution of the waters of the river Rohini, the two parties were on the verge of war. The Buddha settled the dispute by asking:"What do you consider as more valuable - water or human lives?"
Lesson # 4 : The Leader as ManagerThe Buddha was a great human resource manager. With an acute knowledge of human beings,he knew the strengths and weaknesses of those around him. He delegated duties to his followersin accordance with their abilities and temperament. In addition, he showed his appreciation byconferring upon them due respect and recognition.
Based on their dominant traits, the Buddha categorized people into six groups:1. those lustful and passionate2. those with hatred and anger3. those with delusion4. those with faith and confidence5. those with wisdom and intelligence6. those with hesitation and doubt
Lesson # 5 : The Leader as ProtectorAnother aspect in which the Buddha exercised his role as a protector is in teachingsof the Buddha was open to all, in the Buddhas four-fold party of monks, nuns, laymen and lay women followers, admission was not so liberal.
It is necessary not for Buddha’s personal interests but to protect the Buddhist community from corruptive and evil forces and to ensure its long-term survival. The Buddha also set out criteria and rules and regulations, especiallythe vinaya code, to protect the well- being and order of his community.
Lesson # 6 : The Leader Shows the WayDuring his 45 years of missionary work, many followers became enlightened after listening to histeachings. 2500 years later, the Buddha continues to inspire millions of people around the worldto follow his path. This, above all else, is the most important role of the Buddha as a leader – onewho is able to inspire others to develop their full potential and gain the ultimate goal of Nirvana.
“Behold, O monks, this is my last advice toyou All component things in the world are changeable They are not lasting Work hard to gain your own salvation ” Thank You Very Much Sompong Yusoontorn