Servant Leadership and Bhagvad Geeta

Inspiration from Bhagavad Gita and correlation with Servant Leadership Principles


Rising India

2/16/20213 min read

𝐁𝐡𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐯𝐚𝐝𝐆𝐢𝐭𝐚 <> 𝐒𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐋𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩
Greenleaf's philosophy had its roots from reading a work of fiction in 1958: "The idea of the servant as leader came out of reading Hermann Hesse’s Journey to the East. Story published in the beginning of 20th century about a band of men on a mythical journey to India, Srilanka, Burma, Indonesia, Sumatra, Borneo and inspired by Vedas, Upanishads and culture

Servant leaders are a revolutionary bunch–they take the traditional power leadership model, a philosophy in which an individual interacts with others with the aim of achieving authority rather than power which resonates from Bhagavad Gita

The first principle of servant leadership (out of ten) is ‘ 
Listening ’ which is very reflection of traditional leadership model
(Dec 2020)
In the eighteen chapters, one full chapter Shri Krishna just listens. Not only he allows Arjuna to speak, he knows once he expresses the problem, he himself will automatically be able to find the solution. Even in the second chapter, in so many shlokas he allows Arjun to speak

Even today most of the problem solving is resolute by understanding its critical components

Do you also find resonance of more management theories with traditional one's?

2. 𝑬𝒎𝒑𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒚
𝘊𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘶𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘺𝘦𝘢𝘳’𝘴 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘰𝘯 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘪𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 ‘𝘚𝘦𝘳𝘷𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘓𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘱’ 𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘱𝘪𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘉𝘩𝘢𝘨𝘢𝘷𝘢𝘥-𝘎𝘪𝘵𝘢
Lord 𝐊𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐧𝐚 explained 𝐀𝐫𝐣𝐮𝐧𝐚 to understand both the happiness and the distress of others. An empathetic leader with their own experience understands that people endure because they forget to align their actions with the purpose and are happy when united with the vision
आत्मौपम्येन सर्वत्र समं or 𝐚𝐭𝐦𝐚𝐯𝐚𝐧 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐣𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐭 reflects that we tend to see others as we are.
Finding reprehensible in another is a negative quality lurking within ourselves. So it is prudent to reflect on this when we form opinions of others and intend to build way for them without leading it only finding faults Forming opinions of people and their situations, should be done with the desire to help and not with a mentality of exploit or putting them down-to exercise the authority as tendency to judge others without concern of their progress/learning or growth is against empathetic leadership
Therefore, emotional & social intelligence are critical for organizational effectiveness. At the end it is people who built organizations and not vice-versa. That now is also being treated as an important pillar by High performance organization as per result-based leadership in a VUCA world.
𝘋𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘱𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘦 𝘦𝘮𝘱𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘺 ?

An ex-team member come to you who faced a toxic culture at work, would you heal or ignore?

𝑺𝒆𝒓𝒗𝒂𝒏𝒕 𝑳𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒉𝒊𝒑 𝑷𝒓𝒊𝒏𝒄𝒊𝒑𝒍𝒆𝒔 <> 𝑩𝒉𝒂𝒈𝒘𝒂𝒅 𝑮𝒆𝒆𝒕𝒂 3. 𝑯𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈

Learning to heal is a greatest strength and powerful force for transformation and integration.
In "The Servant as Leader", Greenleaf writes, "There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served and led if, implicit in the compact between the servant‐leader and led is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something that they have."
Healing is about creating a healthy work atmosphere in today’s era work-life balance enabling the team for goal and value them The relationship of body and mind explains the horrendous epidemic of lifestyle diseases, stress induced, psychosomatic and psychiatric disorders which in modern science identified to be allergies, immune complex disorders and some cancers; the vulnerability to bacteria and viruses depends on your reduced immunity due to stress.
Shrimad Bhagvad Gita stated that once spiritual health is restored by wisdom it reflects in positive mental and physical health, again if anything happens to physical health the correction must start from above to have a healing. Chemical intervention to normalise the blood levels desired by modern medicine is not enough. Diabetes persist despite normal blood sugar, hypertension despite normal Blood Pressure, Fat & obesity despite water is lost from body, cholesterol is not produced by liver by switching off reaction but the patches in blood vessels remain, brain is knocked off by sedatives, but insomnia and its cause remains. The neurochemical changes brought about by antidepressants are not permanent but only till you take medicines so for minor mental disorders they should be avoided as far as possible and all psychiatrists agree to this
This top to down approach of Gita is a radical approach to holistic healing. The time has come for the entire medical world and health care industry to seriously consider this integrated spiritual to physical health approach of the great Bhagavad Gita in healing.


दु:खेष्वनुद्विग्नमना: सुखेषु विगतस्पृह: | वीतरागभयक्रोध: स्थितधीर्मुनिरुच्यते || 2 | 56||

तानि सर्वाणि संयम्य युक्त आसीत मत्पर: | वशे हि यस्येन्द्रियाणि तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता || 2 | 61||

Servant Leadership Principles <> Bhagwat Geeta 4. Awareness
We all come across situation which challenges our emotional intelligence, we get emotional about a subject, object or person. That’s how Greenleaf’s servant leadership’s 4th principle emerged as awareness. Arjun’s emotional dilemma lead him to be in emotional state of mind as he was supposed to fight against own people but the negative emption was to go away from the battlefield and therefore he surrendered seeking help from Lord Krishna.
Awareness is not just a management principle but a life lesson. This one in any theory is undisputed adoption as it has been mentioned at many occasions during the preaching.
The relevant adoption from Bhagwad Geeta is enumerated herein below:
1. Advised to be balanced and contended in all events and happenings of melancholy or happiness
2. Focusing on quality of work without thinking about the results
3. That knowledge by which one undivided spiritual nature is seen in all existences, undivided in the divided, is knowledge in the mode of goodness
4. Being aware that we need to control our own mind
5. Conquer the mind, it becomes the best of friends; else it might be the greatest enemy, if we do not control our mind it will start controlling us – Practice LazyYoga in 11 minutes
6. Becoming aware about ego construct and helps in self-awareness through Yog
7. Attainment: Soul >> Brain >> senses
8. Knowing all our doings are act of soul within us is divine state of mind which superior than ourselves
References: (Ch 6, 6) (CH 6, 19) (Ch 18, 20) (Ch2 v 47) (Ch 2 v 56) (Ch 18, 14/15/16) (Ch 3, 42)

5. Persuasion
The fifth principle of servant leadership, persuasion, is a key component of effective leadership. This principle involves using reasoning and influence to inspire and guide others towards a shared vision or goal. The concept of persuasion as a servant leadership principle can very well be traced back to the Bhagwad Geeta, which emphasizes the importance of using wisdom and logic to guide others towards the right path, rather than relying on force or coercion.
In the Bhagwad Geeta, the Arjuna is faced with the difficult decision of whether to go to war or not. Shree Krishna pursued Arjuna (who was looking for his guidance and wisdom) to use persuasion and reasoning to persuade his opponents to see the error of their ways The principle of persuasion is a powerful tool for servant leaders, as it allows them to inspire and guide others without relying on force or coercion.
It is a principle that is rooted in the Bhagwad Geeta and has been embraced by servant leaders around the world as a key component of effective leadership. This message of servant leadership has been embraced by many modern leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi, who used the principles of the Bhagwad Geeta to guide his leadership style and his non-violent resistance movement.
The principle of servant leadership has also been adopted by many business leaders and organizations. Companies that embrace this principle often report increased employee engagement, higher levels of customer satisfaction, and improved financial performance.
In conclusion, the principle of servant leadership, as outlined in the Bhagwad Geeta, has had a lasting impact on leadership theory and practice. By focusing on serving and empowering others, leaders can create more positive and effective organizations.