Prestige Magazine, one of Singapore’s leading monthlies, interviews yogi, mystic and visionary, Sadhguru, on the essential qualities of a good leader in today’s world of rapid change and shifting fortunes. Sadhguru explores the 3 I’s which ensure great leadership, and looks at the greater global role that economic leaders will play in the coming years. 

Q: What would you say are the essential qualities of a good leader?

Sadhguru: A leader is someone who has insight into the situation in which he exists; he sees what others are not able to see. If one is able to pay enough attention, there is nothing in the universe that is not open to you. But not everybody has the same level of attention to details. He must be a symbol of integrity and must be able to inspire the best in those around him. Being an inspiration need not necessarily mean that a leader has to be very charismatic or flamboyant. Many inspire others simply out of their absolute commitment to what they do, for example, Mahatma Gandhi, who managed to move millions of people simply because of an extraordinary sense of commitment. So it’s the three Is: Insight, Integrity and Inspiration. Maybe that means he needs a third eye!

Leadership & Economic Sustainability

Q: Specifically, it is business leadership that forms a large part of your work. Why is this area so important at this time?

Sadhguru: A few hundred years ago, religious leadership was the most dominant leadership on the planet. As machinery came, it was military leadership. In the last hundred years, democratically elected leadership became the dominant force. In 15 to 20 years, it will be economic leadership. But till now, business leaders have only thought of profit. Their roles are becoming so big that it’s no more about running businesses; they are actually making nations and creating a world. So my work has been to constantly remind them that it’s time they move from personal ambitions to a larger vision. More inclusive economics needs to happen.

When I was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, I kept hearing people refer to Asia as an “emerging market” and I said it’s time to stop referring to Asia as that because the continent is made up of people. If you see them as a market place, you will see how to exploit it. But if you see and experience them as people, you will see how to develop their entire situation and a market will develop out of that.

Q: A lot of big businesses are putting more into their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts these days. Can this be enough or is this just step one?

Sadhguru: I’m infamous for continuously talking against CSR, because in my mind the business itself should be socially responsible and not just that two percent of earnings that gets channeled to CSR. If you run businesses in a more inclusive manner, you don’t need this CSR fund that you keep aside. Your quarterly balance sheet may be a little lower, but at the rate you will be able to grow, that can be increased. Business is about expansion, not only accumulating profits. And that is what will make the business very strong and on a stronger base.

Good Leaders & Great Leaders: The Difference

Q: Say I’m a corporate leader who wants to do good, what advice would you give me?

Sadhguru: The first time I was at the World Economic Forum, some people were almost resentful that I, a mystic, was at a business meeting. One of them was a CEO of a major computer hardware company. I asked him what he does. He said: “We produce computers.” So I told him, whether you produce a computer, safety pin, spacecraft or a car, essentially the basic business you are in is human wellbeing and that is my business too. What a corporate leader needs to understand is that regardless of the nature of his business, essentially it is useful to the people on the planet. With that consciousness, that business is all he needs to do and it can be done in a way that is beneficial to a huge number of people. It’s like that African saying: “When a lion feeds, every creature gets to eat.” A businessperson need not start a school or orphanage. I’m not saying they should not. What I’m saying is that, that is not the important thing. So my question to you is this: Are you doing something for your satisfaction or are you seeking a solution to the problems of the world? CSR seems more for personal satisfaction.

Managing Yourself

Q: How does one know when they have reached that point in their lives when they have attained and achieved enough?

Sadhguru: They’ll clearly know it because when they reach it, they’ll be dead! In human life, there is no such thing as attaining enough or achieving enough. Maybe with possessions, you can say: “Okay, I have a nice home and this is enough for me.” But life is an endless possibility. The only question is, are you being driven by something or are you driving your life?

Desires drive people: desire to possess, desire to achieve, desire to be recognised. If today you desire a new smartphone, tomorrow you’ll want something else. If I give you the whole planet and make you the queen, will you be fulfilled? No, you’ll want the moon and the stars. That is why turning inwards is very important. You’ll do things more consciously. Right now the world is functioning compulsively and that’s our problem.

Editor’s Note: ‘INSIGHT: The DNA of Success’ is a four-day business leadership intensive program will be held from November 23-26, 2017, featuring key resource leaders like Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Dr. Shailendra Mehta and B.S. Nagesh in the presence of Sadhguru. Visit IshaInsight.org for more details.

Download the ebook “Inner Management” by Sadhguru, which takes a deeper look at the qualities of a good leader, and elaborates on the need for inner stability in an individual to ensure holistic management. The book is available on a “name your price” basis. Pay what you want and download it.