10 Qualities Of An Effective Leader

A good leader is truthful, equanimous, transparent, farsighted and has a pleasant personality. He or she has a mission, a vision, a spirit of sacrifice, compassion and commitment.

Leadership is a manifestation of strong love and compassion for people. It represents a commitment to principles. In that sense, a certain degree of leadership is dormant in every individual. The challenge comes when one has to nurture it. Here are ten leadership qualities the make leaders effective:

1. A true leader—whether political, religious or social—has many challenges to face. The capacity to express one’s commitment varies from individual to individual. It is often clogged by one’s likes and dislikes. Yet, a leader has to view everyone with the same outlook, appraise everyone with the same yardstick. He has to find discrimination as well as the much-needed wisdom to act at the right time.

2. The society we live in and the groups we represents are not homogeneous and one cannot satisfy everybody. Yet, a leader has to carry everyone along and do justice to everybody.

3. A leader has to withstand criticism and not react emotionally to situations. Often leaders are surrounded by sycophants who try to boost their egos for their own personal agenda. A leader does need hands and feet and has to depend on people around him. At the same time, he should not find himself in a position where he gets confined in a fortress of his close aides or becomes a captive of his admirers.

4. One of the most desired qualities of a true leader is the courage to stretch his hands toward his critics and have the patience to listen to them. A true leader takes failures with as much equanimity as he would successes that come to his doorstep. These days leaders are defensive all the time, explaining their shortcomings or justifying their wrong actions. A true leader will neither complain nor explain, and is open to learning all the time. Admitting a past mistake and creating space for others with completely diverse viewpoints can make a leader more acceptable, universal. A leader does not pass the buck.

5. A true leader balances ideology and practicality, long-term goals with short-term needs. Those who stick only to idealism cannot become leaders and those who think they are very practical and without any ideology also bite the dust.

6. A leader cannot be either generic or specific. He has to strike the balance between personal attention to people and the generic vision for the group, community or country he leads.

7. A leader should have the courage to accept his weak moments. He should understand that people are magnanimous. They would appreciate his straightforwardness and accept his shortcomings rather than him trying to hide them.

8. Some leaders are too diplomatic while others are too straightforward in their approach. While people do not trust those, who are very diplomatic, they do not want anything to do with those who are very blunt and justify their rudeness in the garb of straightforwardness. People who are very straightforward and blunt in their approach often don’t find followers. It is like tuning a guitar. If the strings are stretched too tight you cannot play it, and if the strings are too lose you cannot create music either. A leader has to strike the balance between diplomacy and straightforwardness.

9. While self-righteous people create distaste in others, those who take credit for every good action are equally distanced. A leader should acknowledge others’ contributions and at the same time see that these contributions don’t get to their heads.

10. A leader can create a mob but he should know that a mob is short lived. A shortsighted leader creates a mob; a leader with wisdom creates a movement. Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr. are examples of inspirational leaders who created movements.

All this may sound utopian, but in reality, if you look keenly into the lives of the most successful leaders, you will find all these qualities naturally manifest at some time or the other. You don’t have to do much to inculcate these leadership qualities; just their awareness is good enough to make a good leader.

Who is an Youth?

Where there is victory, the joyous cry or sound one makes for victory is called Jayakara. In the same way, Chitkara means the place where one’s spirit awakens and is uplifted. Chitta also means spirit in Hindi. There are diverse meanings of the word Chitta.
Once I was conducting an event in a large stadium in Pune. The event went on for one whole week. Initially my plan was to return after visiting Solan in Himachal Pradesh. But then quite suddenly my travel plans changed and it got decided that we would also be visiting Chandigarh before returning back. In the same way, the Pune event too was decided in a very short span of time – the plan was made in roughly 10 days.
After the program ended, one of the youth volunteers from the event told me, “Gurudev, the entire event happened so smoothly. There were no troubles or obstacles of any kind”. Hearing this I thought, is it a youth or an old person who is driving the car? You know, a youth is one who is always ready to take on challenges as they come. If one expects or waits for everything to be smooth and hassle-free, then that person is not a youth. When the person heard what I said, he was quite astonished. I explained that it is in old age that one expects everything to be smooth and free from difficulty. If one has to go from here to Delhi, one can very easily catch a bus or a train to travel. But when someone makes the same trip an adventure, then that person is a Youth.
Signs of a youth:
1. Being ready to take on challenges
2. Undying enthusiasm!
When you light a candle and turn it upside down, the flame still burns upwards. That is how our life should also be – regardless of which direction life goes, the spirit should always move upwards. One who is able to maintain his sense of enthusiasm regardless of the situation in life is a youth in the true sense. Enthusiasm is a sign of youth.
What do you think are the challenges that come to you in life? One of them is when you think, “Oh, how will my life be in the future? Will I get a job? Will I be able to make it as an entrepreneur? Will my business thrive?”
There is some kind of insecurity in your mind about yourself. Or you worry by thinking, “Oh, will I pass my exams? What marks will I score? Will I get a seat while applying to colleges for higher studies?” These kinds of insecurities suppress your potential. This is where you need a firm foundation, or an anchor to which you can place all your faith in; which makes you believe that you can overcome and progress forward.
I want to share a story of Shivaji Maharaj with you. After a long battle, Shivaji Maharaj grew very tired, and felt that he could not continue fighting any further. He grew dejected and began to feel very insecure. You know, whenever one feels insecure, the Guru appears in life to take care. Samarth Ramdas Maharaj was Shivaji’s Guru. So, Samarth Ramdas Ji came to the Shivaji’s court to meet him. He said to Shivaji, “My dear, I have come to ask something from you”.
It is said that, if your Guru asks you for your head, know that even that is too little a price he is asking from you. 
Shivaji replied, “Gurudev, my entire life is yours. I am ready to lay my head at your feet. Please ask what you seek and it is yours.”
Samarth Ramdasji said, “I want your kingdom.”
Without thinking for even a second, Shivaji Maharaj took off his royal turban, and sword and surrendered them at the feet of his Guru. He said, “Gurudev, you have freed me so totally today from all my worries and concerns. You have taken away such a heavy burden, for which I am grateful. I bow to you again and again.”
Saying this, Shivaji rose and turned to walk away. At that moment, Samarth Ramdasji stopped him and said, “My dear, stop! Indeed from this day on I am the King of the Kingdom. Now, you shall fight for me as my trusted warrior to protect my kingdom. Now wear this crown again for namesake, take up your sword and fight your enemies bravely without any concerns.”
It is said, since that day, Shivaji Maharaj never experienced any sense of insecurity ever again. He never lost courage and kept on moving forward in his activities and conquests. He became invincible in battle.
So from this story, you should know that there is a Supreme power which is with you, and is taking care of you at all times. We may call that power as Waheguru, Lord Shiva, Lord Hanuman, or as the all-encompassing syllable Om. Just knowing this gives you great inner strength.
Even the tenth Guru of the Sikh tradition said, “Chant the name of the Divine; it brings you great strength of mind and equanimity in life”. A strong and steady mind can pull through even if the body is weak. But if the mind is weak and entangled in negativity, then it cannot move even a physically strong body forward. That is why it is so vital to have a strong and steady mind. Remember to keep insecurities from overwhelming the mind.
Now, you may have a good business which your parents would have set up over the years, and after your studies, you may plan to take up the family business forward. In such case you may not have any insecurity about your future. But even then, do you know what you may fear? You may succumb to fearing humiliation. Many of us have this feeling that no one should criticize or insult us. I tell you, this is the biggest stumbling block in your path to progress. Many great people are troubled with this fear of humiliation.
A person could be the Prime Minister of a country, or a Chief Minister, or a Mayor of a city. But when there is a constant fear of humiliation in the mind, then your spirit cannot blossom totally from within as long as you are stuck with this fear.
In life, we run away from every possible where we fear being humiliated. This fear prevents you from blossoming from within, from being so natural. I tell you, just stand tall with your head held high and have this firm belief, “I do not fear criticism and insult, regardless of who may do so”. That’s it. When you challenge humiliation itself and stand tall before it, then no one can diminish your self-confidence and your talents. No one can make you unhappy in the world then.
You should have this approach in life, “At most, what will the other person call me? That I am a fool? Let them do so freely, I will not fear that”. We need to strive to overcome this fear of humiliation. 
Alright, I want to ask one more thing from you all – Are you all naughty? (Many in the audience shout “Yes!” as Gurudev asks). Good, you better be naughty I tell you. Otherwise you will lose your qualification to be called as a Youth. If you are not being mischievous in life, I tell you, you have certainly grown old in life.
My dear, what is the use of getting so troubled with small trivial issues in life? Just relax and be happy. This is the time to be happy and playful. Laugh and make others laugh, neither get entangled nor entangle others in life. That’s it!