Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Many in body, one in mind

We all live and work in a fiercely competitive world that is driven at the core by economics. International schools, these days, too are run on a corporate model, following core corporate values. In many ways it contradicts the basic purpose of education: service vs profits, quality vs quantity, community vs individual, students vs parent clients and so on. Amidst such pressures, it is not easy to lead a team in a truly collaborative spirit like the PYP requires. This post is dedicated to one such leader, thus, celebrating the Buddhist value of compassion and exemplifying the principle of Many in Body, One in Mind.

We are all different... many in body
A true leader needs to recognise the beauty of unique and different personalities, look for their strengths and tap into them. Leadership should not be about standardising the work force through strict rules and norms, but letting each individual blossom to their true potential. When one works in a diverse team, be it multicultural or multi-ethnic, this understanding is crucial in building and developing the team. As each of us have a different mission in life, it is important to first recognise, acknowledge and appreciate that. Then the rest can follow.

We are all the same... one in mind
A team always works towards a common goal. As common mortals, we too all strive towards the common goal of happiness, peace and security. Unless, each individual in a team, community or society at large realise the commonality of our mission and hence, our lives, harmony can never be attained. Our government with its cabinet full of selfish ministers looking after their own interests, is a perfect example of this principle not applied. A leader is expected to make each of its team mates realise this vision of a common goal, however big or small their contribution in achieving it. Empathy is a useful quality in helping bridge the gaps and making each individual feel important and wanted. A team with this high value of self worth often delivers the best of their abilities, as they share the vision of the leader/mentor/teacher. This unites them in mind, thought and thus, action... making it a simplistic but a very practical approach.

Many in body, (yet) one in mind
The real challenge of a leader is however, to acknowledge the above two concepts and marry them together. Most leaders would have the ability to use one or the other of these two ideas in their management. But what sets apart good leaders from the rest is this understanding that though a team needs to be focused on a common goal, it cannot be achieved at the cost of sacrificing individual personalities, talents and abilities. This is where Rima's compassion and practicality found a perfect match in the way she dealt with all of us! Rima has the innate ability to sense and see through each individual's inner landscape, respecting it deeply on one hand, and utilising their strengths not only to help the individual, but also, to help the team grow. Any organisation with such balanced leaders will do well, with high levels of employee satisfaction, as colleagues are not pressurised to deliver through fear psychosis, strong rules, harsh behaviour or bullying. Such leaders can osmotically bring out the best in every one, stir in the soup the larger picture and serve high quality performance, hot and tasty!

L to R: Malini, Monica, Rima and I
If we want to see change in organisations, communities and society at large, it is imperative that we all celebrate our uniqueness and yet guide people towards a common vision of good. This definition of good can change over time, but the spirit of many in body and one in mind, will remain the key to human management success!

This post, like my other ones, tries to exemplify a Buddhist concept or principle. More can be read on this concept here. This post is also dedicated to an exceptional person, Rima Singh, who has not only been a great friend, but also a great mentor, and the most humane boss I could ever dream of! The opinions expressed in the blog are mine only and in no way should be associated with any organisation or community. 


Ms. Supriyaa Narula said...

So true Abhi!!
you have beautifully summed up how Rima has been a fantastic leader for all of us!!
She will be terribly missed :(

Sabeena Menon said...

I agree with you both. Rima has been a great friend, mentor and a bulous soul for all of us.