Lessons from Bodhisattva

In Buddhism, bodhisattva refers to a person who is on the path to Buddhahood.  Or in other words, a bodhisattva is in journey towards Nirvana; the ultimate state of being described in Buddhism where there is liberation from sorrows and suffering, and from the cycle of birth and rebirth. In order to become a bodhisattva a person needs to imbibe several qualities or attributes, whose applications can be beneficial to corporate leadership in the post-modern times. 

In Mahāyāna Buddhism, bodhisattva is defined more specifically. According to it a bodhisattva is a person who has imbibed a spontaneous wish and compassionate mind to attain Buddhahood or Nirvana for the benefit of all sentient beings. They are expected to be endowed with several attributes which include loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy and equanimity, perfection of wisdom among others.

One of the important attributes for becoming a bodhisattva according to Mahayana Buddhism is empathy and compassion for others; both of which are integral part of modern-day corporate leadership where it is always more fruitful and beneficial to understand your teammates with compassion and empathy rather than cracking the whip.

Kindness should be another important trait among leaders in the boardroom. Without kindness towards one’s team members, it is very difficult for a leader in today’s times to make them perform at their best. Team members may perform their job routinely for a leader devoid of kindness, compassion and empathy but would not be encouraged to deliver their best or go out of their way to deliver the goods for her/him.

Staying Calm and Being Wise 

Similarly, equanimity or the ability to stay calm, especially in difficult situations is a desirable trait for today’s business leaders who have to often navigate through a volatile and fast changing business environment. The corporate leader who stays calm in difficult situations is much more likely to instill confidence among her/his team members about a better tomorrow than a leader who can’t maintain equanamity. No wonder a leader displaying equanimity through words and actions can encourage her/his team members to deliver their best, even in challenging circumstances.

Wisdom is an essential trait for a bodhisattva, which is also desired in today’s corporate leadership. Wisdom is much more than mere intelligence, and is hard to define. One can roughly describe wisdom as the amalgamation of intelligence, intuition, knowledge and experience. Wisdom helps to make judicious decisions through knowledge and experience, and it is a leadership trait for arriving at successful decisions while weighing through myriad conflicting complexities and taking account of different nuances. By imbibing the wisdom of bodhisattvas, a business leader can facilitate sailing her/his company to the shore of success by negotiating a turbulent sea of challenges.

Patience and Happiness 

Patience is another of the attributes of a bodhisattva, which is very much required by corporate leaders as she/he has to often wait long for the right opportunity to take a business decision. Any undue haste in taking the decision without taking into account market sentiments may lower the chance of getting the desired dividends for the said business leader/entrepreneur.

Bodhisattva leadership attempts to bring happiness to the team members and at the workplace, which today’s corporate leaders should pay great attention to by making each employee feel important and cherished and by helping maintaining proper work-life balance, etc.

Uplifting the Team Members

Moreover, while going through the tenets of Mahayana Buddhism we can glean that a bodhisattva is concerned with not only his own enlightenment but the enlightenment of others too. He, according to Mahayana Buddhism, is the one who has realised enlightenment but at the same time, due to altruism and compassion for sufferings of other people, opts to postpone entering the state of Nirvana in order to work towards making others attain enlightenment. Thus he is on the path for the sake of others though he can easily reach his destination.

This should be the inspiration for business leaders. Today’s business leader should not only be guided by her/his lofty professional goals towards taking oneself to pinnacle of glory but also needs to learn to walk along with her/his team members to uplift them professionally too. Unless she/he professionally uplifts her/his team members the chance for the entire organisation to rise or grow could become limited. If need be, visionary business leaders, like a true bodhisattva of Mahayana Buddhism, should postpone their personal successes, however tempting they may be, for the benefit of their team.

So, we can see that by imbibing the personality traits of a bodhisattva, the chances of success of a corporate leader in today’s world could be enhanced. We can also easily infer that true bodhisattvas with their inherent qualities, have high potential of becoming excellent leaders in today’s often challenging business environments as their attributes would help them to connect with and inspire their team members in a much better manner.

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