From the Buddhist perspective, real wisdom is always transcendental to the mind. It includes empathy (‘metta’) and love (‘sneha’), both. Without empathy or the ability to appreciate and understand others, and without love (love for work, love for people, love for one's own being) wisdom does not dawn. Now this is very important from the leadership perspective. Because eventually a leader is to lead through wisdom. That is the most important thing.
A leader without such wisdom is likely to lead people into hellish situations. So genuine wisdom is a very essential part of one's leadership role. It does not mean the wisdom of a Buddha. But it means the wisdom of that which is transcendental to what ordinarily people think. Then only do you have value as a leader. If you're simply doing what others think, then you shouldn't be a leader. A leader has that extra X-factor, and that should be wisdom.
And the world faces more crises of every kind, wisdom is needed even more in leadership. This is very significant to understand. In the Buddhist perspective it is called mindfulness. It is not at all about becoming a meditator or becoming a renunciate, an ascetic or so on. It is about bringing the quality of mindfulness into your being, and through this quality of mindfulness, wisdom spontaneously dawns. Otherwise, we are simply dictated by our repetitive thoughts. You can look at a lot of world leaders: they themselves seem so confused, how will they lead vast numbers of people to well-being? And that has been the trend throughout history. Without wisdom, leaders have led nations only into conflict, into war, into bloodshed and so on. But this principle applies to any endeavour in human life. It could be business, it could be a commercial objective, or of any other sort.
There must be an intuitive part in every sort of leadership – business, political, organizational, scientific, technological, artistic, etc - which is transcendental to ordinary thinking. And what is this intuitive part? This intuitive part is only activated by a feeling of well-being and love in those who lead, and into the world. Bringing love into that which you do connects people to you. And eventually this has business dividends also, because it is based on something solid and true.
There are some values which are the innermost core of success. There is no substitute for them. And one of those values is working through wisdom, and leading through wisdom. Let the intelligence of the cosmos function through you. That is the ultimate aim. Leaders often think, “I am somebody!”, and through this very thinking they get trapped in ego. And through the ego, they have only a small window into the vastness of their potential.
There is no substitute for wisdom in the world: cunning or cleverness can never replace wisdom, because essentially cunning does not bring bliss. Cunning does not bring innovative breakthroughs. Cunning does not bring transformation. What brings transformation is the action of mindfulness! Through mindfulness comes wisdom. There are a lot of speakers or clevers talkers, leaders who are very convincing at the level of thought. But eventually what they do is they pull people downwards. Because instead of acting out of wisdom they act out of ego. It’s that simple.
Wisdom is about knowing inner truth of things. It is about knowing inner truth of people. It is about knowing the inner truth of how best to serve. That is what dynamic leadership truly means. And this is a secret of consciousness. You see, when a person has a consciousness of empathy, he creates a vibe of empathy around him. All that he does has a touch of this empathy. Hence all his actions create a cycle of empathy, and where there is empathy there is general well-being. Because the right things are done at the right time, with the right intention. The intentions are correct, and where the intentions are correct the results - whatever they may be - cannot be entirely wrong. Out of noble intention are born noble deeds. Noble deeds cannot be born out of egoistic interest. And the great leader is somebody who keeps doing noble deeds, whatever his capacity. He might not be in a very important position, he might not be leading very many people, but whatever is in his capacity he does with empathy. He does not misuse his leader’s space. Instead there is a deep longing within a leader to make people's potentiality sprout. And he does whatever is in his power to make that possible.
In Buddhist terminology the dawning of wisdom is called the blooming of the Lotus within one’s being. The Lotus is taken as a symbol of great purity and wisdom, both. Because it has the ability to live amidst murky water but at the same time it has the wisdom to survive, flourish, flower, be beautiful, be at its utmost grandeur and potential. And that is the way the leader should be. So the Buddhist symbol of the Lotus becomes very important: it is a reminder of the transcendental nature of wisdom. Transcend the circumstances you are in. transcend the limitations you are placed under. And bloom forth to your best! Then people will automatically notice you. You will automatically move upward. There is no need to be anything else but yourself. Let the Lotus in your heart blossom not only within yourself, but within your work. Yes, it does require willpower and resolve. It requires a great resolution of heart and mind. But it infact requires more than willpower: it requires enough courage in the heart to function out of that which is wise and which is beneficial.
The good leader is one who uses his own ability and his own potential to take a great leap beyond what people are ordinarily thinking. And the only way to surpass the ordinary is to become liberated from your own conditioning, your own confining ideas. Let the mind open up. Liberate yourselves from your past, your thoughts, from the trap of what you have known previously. That is the only way to move towards an innovative leadership space. It is also very mystically and spiritually liberating, but at a practical level what it does is it gives you a capacity for inventiveness. Because you don't feel occupied and full by the yesterday that you had. You once again are available to whatever circumstance is confronting you, and this is what true transcendence means: to move into newer spaces better spaces of consciousness. It requires a certain patience and silence within the heart, and that is also the hallmark of a good Buddhist monk.
Something which Buddha used to talk extensively about are silence and patience as the route to real wisdom. Both these virtues enable you to become rooted in wisdom, enable you to become transcendental to the mind. So utilize your private moments to be more silent, to be more mindful. And then you will find a great energy integrating within yourself, becoming freely available to you to utilize like a dynamo when you need it in your leadership role.