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8 Management Lessons from India’s Freedom Struggle
by Manu Mayank on September 6th, 2010 Guest Post by: Sonia Jaspal

In the present corporate world we respect the leaders who are able to walk the talk. however do not support it regarding its practices against Indian people. Managements today are advocating out of the box thinking and competing strategically. He created a brand of a simple moral man living life on the principle of Ahimsa (non-violence). Think out of the box The strategy and tactics adopted during the Indian independence struggle were unlike any other country’s revolution. 3. vegetarian meals and home at the .We recently celebrated Indian Independence Day on 15 August. Brand building Mahatma Gandhi’s personal brand has lasted 60 years after his death without any investment. • Non-cooperation. • Civil disobedience. He came up with various austere living standards and requested his followers to adopt them. Walk the talk Mahatma Gandhi preached the concept of simple living and high thinking. Some of the concepts were: • Non-violence – A war fought on the basis of principles without any bloodshed. His kept his life open to public scrutiny.Court arrest if the British officials are threatening imprisonment for demanding your rights. although he came from an affluent Indian family. His home spun cotton clothes. Going back in history. People may debate regarding his personal choices but no one would raise questions on his ethics and integrity. 1. wooden shaft.The message given was maintain your jobs with the British Empire. Irrespective of the difficulty involved. I think there are lot of management lessons which corporate world is implementing presently which were prevalent in the freedom struggle. 2. I cherish the freedom and celebrate India’s growth towards global recognition. India is one of the unique countries which gained freedom without much bloodshed. leather slippers. he always was able to take the high moral ground and never compromised on his personal values. The organization which implements a unique strategy generally wins the market. demonstrate ethical and principled behavior and lead by example. Indian freedom struggle lasted nearly a century. In this post I am exploring Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership and management style. and linking it to the current management practices. The last 25 years of the struggle was lead by Mahatma Gandhi on the concept of non-violence.

their orders should be obeyed by the people. They built a strategy on the following: • Non-violence which required no weapons. Also.ashram all embodied his personal brand. 5. We hear Tom Peters and other management gurus talking about building the “Brand You”. • Asked masses to contribute for the independence and live frugally. alternate leaders. Where there are no leaders and only a handful of men have faith in the programme. Senior leaders acted as mentors for the younger generation. Namely. and people were encouraged to develop leadership traits. chief mentors and succession planning. The corporate world is spending huge sums on advertising to build the corporate brand. however worked for a common cause. We must acknowledge that fact that very few leaders in history have as strong a brand image as Gandhi. The Indian leadership team acknowledged the strengths of the British Empire and devised a strategy which minimized those strengths. His character and communication depicted his core values to the masses. Vallabhbhai Patel. These leaders all had different personalities and ideologies. funds. 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. 6. Using a similar strategy Barrack Obama won the American president elections when he had no funds and support. Gandhi and Nehru complimented each other tremendously and mostly operated as two in a box.g. weapons and management capability. Business world is focusing on building dream teams with leadership at all levels. if they have enough self-confidence”. hence survived on minimal resources. Jawaharlal Nehru. Build dream teams Indian Congress Party besides Gandhi had a number of other accomplished leaders. 4. He encouraged common man to show leadership and commitment under the . The party had leaders at grass root level. Engage and empower people Mahatma Gandhi in his speech on the eve of Dandi March said -“Wherever there are local leaders. hotmail) which developed into big names just by pioneering a unique product and leveraging the market properly. C. Rajagopalachari. The Human resource Departments are focused on concepts of two in a box. Subhash Chandra Bose and others. They envisaged taking on the might of British Empire who had the resources. • Developed local leadership across all regions under Congress banner. one notices small IT companies (e. they may do what they can.

he continuously advocated decent and humane behavior even towards ones enemy. In nut shell. The people make no distinction between British imperialism and the British people”. brought Hindus and Muslims on the same platform and removed caste barriers for joining the freedom moment. History is the best teacher. had friendly relationships with Britishers and never made a personal attack in his speeches. Mahatma Gandhi stated. He however.address the issue at hand and keep a positive attitude towards a person from the competing camp. the mantra today is to bring more women on board. if we are willing to learn from other people’s successes and failures. 8. The people say they are disgusted with their behavior. this is the corporate mandate today. With less than 10% women in senior management positions in the corporate world. Mahatma Gandhi in his struggle for independence attempted to unify the country. His thought process was. His wife. Accept and encourage diversity The British are generally blamed for implementing “divide and rule policy” in India. On the contrary. there is the question of your attitude towards the British. Deal with the issue and not the person.overall umbrella of Congress. 7. Mahatma Gandhi pioneered this thought process. He encouraged the princely states to join hands. Kasturba Gandhi played a pivotal role in getting women’s participation. He united the people by specifying the mission. I have noticed that there is hatred towards the British among the people.“Then. With globalization the concept of accepting and encouraging diversity has taken hold. The masses were committed to the cause and in all his symbolic protests he involved people participation. religions and castes before the British rule. The corporate world’s biggest challenge is of disengaged employees due to actual or perceived lack of empowerment. Don’t make it personal In the Quit India speech in 1942. Sonia can be reached at: soniajaspal[at]sify[dot]com From → Advice . India already was already divided into various regions. there is a lot to learn from the Indian freedom struggle for the corporate world. vision and code of conduct of Congress. It had unique dimensions which are gaining hold now as corporate best practices. In all his communication and dealings he stood up against British Imperialism. On the other hand. It is becoming apparent that success or failure of the organization is increasingly dependent on a healthy organization culture which encourages employee participation. He supported gender equality and encouraged women to actively participate in the movement.

That means. and thanks for forwarding Manu. Only non-violent means would have survived against the regime. all Indian leaders survived. Kennedy Samuel permalink Sonia. education. In addition. even today India is suffering 1947… . administration. Gandhi minimized the conflict resulting in masses getting short sentenses and punishments. until British put it on the map with borders. Second. First. British brought law and order. which is a dream even today. let alone the British. under ruthless Portugese. Parliamentary rule. 2. all violent struggles failed since 1857. Mahatma Gandhi’s mission was an Independent India.. another point or too (though none have not learnt. Mahatma Gandhi.. Execute & oversee the mission till completion. and so much new thought to the nation that they were better than anything Indians had seen before. have had India partitioned. Gandhi would never. excellent & a perfect write-up. USA leader. In contrast. Mahatma was a real leader. socio-political & cultural reforms… see & learn from India.Win masses by example not by populist / via religion. being a lawyer. this aspect. 10. I repeat never. equality. and united as such. He may have taken some clues from the fact that former leaders such as Tilak spent more time in jail than the struggle itself. If I may add. not for killing anything.and not handed over the baton to just any rich or affluent personality. and are.e. May be there is some lesson here in management. Mandar Sunthankar permalink Excellent analysis by Sonia.5 Comments → 1. why. and the masses followed him and his teachings irrespective of caste. wonderful. because Mahatma Gandhi never needed to win the masses or minority via religion. supports a religions structure at ground zero…. I believe. Gandhi understood how to take advantage of British Law to maximum without staying in jail for a long time. sex & religion. French or Dutch rule. well) 9. It should be noted that only under the British democraic. i. would have made the best Prime-minister of an independent India that stretched across Islamabad to Arunachal Pradesh…had he continued to head the congress or handed over the baton to a fellow Gandhian. Gandhi understood the pulse of Indian masses. picking up guns was out of question for successful struggle. they would have been shot long before they could become leaders. Why are US leaders deviating from running a country via economic. by nature and culture most Indians were. India was not a country. I would like to add a couple of my thoughts. So there was a certain amount of admiration among the masses. That is the reason.

Sonia Jaspal permalink Thanks for the appreciation. why are you deviating from running a country via economic. Kind regards. 3. sex & religion. Scamsters’ smiling into TV camera… 2. I am proud of my India.India a wonderful country. BUT I can only love India. You can visit my blog and enjoy reading the same. and the masses followed him and his teachings irrespective of caste. but I am not proud of those Indian’s giving my country a bad name. 4. if I can do a little bit and be a good Indian and say no to corrupt leaders. I had a long list. Mahatma was a real leader.Win masses by example not by populist / via religion.. which is yet a dream even today. I repeat never. have had India partitioned. Scams (read theft) reported in 6 to 8 digits. So the next eight points comes on 2 October. Mahatma Gandhi. I am proud of India. Gandhi would never. wonderful. If I may add. USA leader supports a religions structure at ground zero…. excellent & perfect write-up. I would agree with you that there are a number of points which one can learn from Gandhi. Sonia Trackbacks & Pingbacks . 2010: major news headlines addresed corruption of scams valuing over 6 to 8 digits & a one big joke : inflation in “single” digit. because Mahatma Gandhi never needed to win the masses or minority via religion. Check news headlines through 2010: 1. but then thought people may not appreciate such a long post. I believe.. would have made the best Prime-minister of an independent India that stretched across Islamabad to Arunachal Pradesh…had he continued to head the congress or handed over the baton to a fellow Gandhian. 10. even today suffering 1947… India a wonderful country. another point or two (though we have not learnt this aspect well) 9. Mahatma Gandhi’s mission was an Independent India. but I am not proud of those Indian’s giving my country a bad name. socio-political & cultural reforms… see India. Just one Joke: Inflation reported in single digit….and not handed over the baton to just any rich or affluent personality. Execute & oversee the mission till completion. Kennedy Samuel permalink Sonia.

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