Leadership is one of the most essential facets of human life. Each one of us has an enormous potential within oneself to become a great leader. The only difference between an ordinary leader and a great leader is that latter is always morally conscious. Both Gandhi and Hitler were leaders but the only difference between them was that Gandhi was a moral leader whereas Hitler was an oppressive dictator. The point of departure for an individual, from being a leader to a great leader, emerges only when we appreciate the moral aspect of our inherent leadership quality. In times of moral dilemma only the truest of leaders stand firm and make a morally correct decision. Leadership devoid of morality is similar to sun without sunshine. Even Andrew Carnegie believed that the poor produce greater moral leaders than the rich as they are taught better work ethics. The world has always remembered leaders but it has embraced and cherished only its moral leaders. Moral leadership, according to me, is making the morally correct decisions at all times irrespective of the consequences and thereby setting an example for humanity as a whole. To understand the idea of moral leadership we have to appreciate the fact that different ages have proposed different models of moral leadership. Earlier, these questions pertaining to moral leadership were people-centric whereas today such questions have become business-centric. Being a student of Corporate Law myself, I have observed that the questions regarding moral leadership are discussed mostly in the classes of managerial science and not in social sciences. This shift in discussion and understanding of moral leadership from ‘people’ to ‘managers’ has been one of the prominent reasons lack of clarity in the ideas pertaining to moral leadership. Therefore, the subjective experiences of people have recurrently shaped the idea of moral leadership in our fast changing society. Each one of us faces a different moral dilemma at different times making the idea of moral leadership even more unsolidified.
The Sports Committee of my University is a student run body with a faculty advisor acting as an overseeing authority. During my term as the finance officer in the committee there had been allegations of misappropriation of funds against the faculty advisor of the Sports committee by a group of students. They claimed that the faculty advisor had siphoned off the funds allotted for purchase of sports equipment and student welfare. Such allegations were made prior to the organization of a major Inter-University Sports Festival. These allegations shocked the University administration threatening cancellation of the fest. All the members of the Sports Committee, apart from me, decided not to interfere in the affair as any action favoring the teacher could have angered the student community. However, I knew that such allegations were frivolous and were made with an intention to malign the teacher. I fought for the rights of the said teacher against the authorities by producing all the detailed financial statements as evidence during the departmental proceeding. On account of ample documentary evidence I was able to defend the faculty advisor successfully. In this situation I assumed the role of a moral leader by fighting for the right cause irrespective of the repercussions it could have had on my University life. This incident induced in me a spirit to fight for what is just, fair and equitable for the betterment of our society. I realized that mere leadership is not important for affecting a change in this society and what we desperately needed were more moral leaders. I also joined an organization called ‘Kranti’, which is Hindi for the word Revolution, and screened documentaries in my University which discerned the acts of violence by the government against its own people. This platform exposed the students of my university to realize the importance of moral leadership and youth activism in a strife ridden society. It also provided impetus to students of my University to strive for achieving moral leadership. These experiences have shaped my leadership qualities in a morally conscious pattern and also promoted moral leadership in my University.
It is true that people are effected by people itself. The citizens of my country have recently been affected morally with the rise of a new political party. Towards the end of 2013 a revolution stirred in the capital of India i.e., Delhi. This revolution was initiated by a political party called the Aam Aadmi Party, which is Hindi for “Common Man’s Party”. The party was able to secure substantial number of seats in the legislative assembly of Delhi within one year of the party’s establishment. It has overthrown major bigwigs such as Indian National Congress which were embroiled in corruption charges and had been the ruling party in Delhi for many years. The party leader, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, is a Ramon Magasaysay 2006 awardee for Emergent Leadership and is one of the significant moral leaders in India. Mr. Arvind Kejriwal was himself a high ranking civil servant in the Tax department of India but upon experiencing the lack of work ethics coupled with ubiquitous corruption within his department he decided to quit his job. In 2013, he led a Satyagrah (non-violent protest) against the established corrupt government in Delhi by pressing for Anti-Graft legislations and reforms in criminal law. Subsequently, he fought the elections with meagre funds which were donated by common people of Delhi and secured considerable number of seats in the Delhi Assembly. He is set to become the Chief Minister of Delhi in December 2013. Moral leaders like Mr. Kejriwal might not be known to the whole world like Mandela or Gandhi but for the world’s largest democracy he is an angel in disguise and my icon of a true moral leader.
Acts of moral leadership like those of Mr. Kejriwal need not be made known to everyone by the beat of the drum. Such acts propagate itself. All we need to do is to take decisions in the morally correct perspective irrespective of the gains or losses which would be incurred by undertaking such decisions. In the present neo-classical economic system the leaders of the business world are concluding deals which are negatively influencing our environment, society and consequently our sustainability on earth. Moral leadership is an imperative on part of such industry leaders as they are prominent figures who have the ability to steer the way of human life. The idea of a free market economy has resulted in the occupation of all the major resources in the world by few individuals which is actually an outcome of immoral, and sometimes amoral, leadership by the leaders of different countries, corporate entities and politicians.
The bigger question is therefore to seek a solution as to how we can infuse moral leadership in our society? The answer lies in doing away with the concept of “Beg, Borrow or Steal” to achieve our goals. In this present competitive world, moral leadership is absent because we fail to contemplate over the common good of humankind and are overly occupied by our personal expansions. We have allowed, the ‘Selfish Gene’ inside us to take a toll over our consciousness resulting in a lackadaisical approach towards incorporating moral leadership in us. The motto for the moral leader inside us should not be profit over people but common good over profit. Community programs and government schools should lead a combined effort in conducting programs and exercises which will motivate students to be morally sentient even in adverse times. Instead of teaching Professional ethics at college level we should first introduce leadership courses named “Student Ethics” in the curriculum of high school students to infuse moral leadership in the younger generation. Students should also interact with the moral leaders in their community. This will inspire the younger generation to imbibe qualities which will rescue the future of humanity from fading into oblivion.