4 December 2016 – As we have seen from the recent US elections, the power of leadership is all-pervasive. Leadership is a natural phenomenon: people want and need leaders. The fundamental question we still have not addressed is what type of leadership does the world need at present? And this leads to confusion.
Evidently, when people feel scared and overwhelmed by the complexities of life, we see the emergence of leaders who claim to have all the answers. They promise to restore order and give us a simple sense of justice and hope, “making us feel great again”. But what happens when these answers turn out to be false and ineffective in addressing what we need?
What if the complexities of life cannot be lifted by the promises of a strong heroic leader? At the very least, the result will be that people feel even less empowered than before – they will have been “misled” by handing over their power to the wrong leader.
We don’t know yet what the future will bring, but we can benefit from exploring alternative leadership models than the strong “know it all” leadership model that is reflected in the US president-elect. I have studied and worked with the Dalai Lama for many years, and l can testify that he has become a leader by “not knowing”. He has never pretended that life is less complex than it seems. The Dalai Lama is one of the most respected leaders of his time. He has no formal leadership role but people respect him and trust him.
How did this come about? What is the secret? The key lies in understanding the potential that each human being had: we don’t need to be “led”, but instead we can learn how to “lead ourselves”. The Dalai Lama’s focus has been on teaching us how we can help ourselves, how we can become leaders of our own life and find the resources to meet our own needs. This corresponds with many alternative leadership models that may prove to be much more reliable in the current time and age. This type of leadership cannot “mislead” people. It can only enhance their capacity to serve the needs that need to be served, recognizing the innate positive potential of people.
I invite you to read more about this and the dialogues I have had with the Dalai Lama over the past 20 years in my new book; Business as an Instrument for Societal Change.