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Cooperative Leadership

Updated: Jun 13, 2022

One of the greatest qualities of Pramukh Swami Maharaj was that he always motivated and encouraged everyone. Whenever someone would come to him to share a new idea, new thought, or a new plan, he would listen to them carefully and respectfully. He would immediately set aside his own thoughts to encourage the other person’s thoughts.

When the Delhi Akshardham was being conceptualised, the BAPS organization acquired 100 acres of land on the banks of the Yamuna River. At that moment, there was no concrete plan ready for what was to be done. But, Swamiji was insistent that the Akshardham temple complex should be built there. A senior saint from the Akshardham team, P. Sreejiswaroop Swami, stepped forward with a drawing plan to share with Swamiji on how the Akshardham complex could be constructed. He looked at the plan intently and with great interest, and then he discussed with the Akshardham team about what all could be done. The entire team studied the design and started thinking of further improvisations. From time to time Swamiji was updated about everything.

“The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”

The discussions began to take place, and Swamiji appreciated everyone's presentations, thoughts, etc. Keeping these at the core, the inception of the magnificently divine new temple of Akshardham began. He said that since it was Yogibapa's wish, the Akshardham temple would be the most incredible. He always encouraged and supported everyone’s contributions to the construction of the temple, without taking any credit for himself. Resultantly, the magnanimous Akshardham stands tall today sprawled across a hundred acres of land and as one of the most unique structures. At first the sight itself people become enchanted with the divinity that permeates in the creation of the entire structure. Swamiji’s interest, encouragement, and trust in the idea of the intuitive plan are the roots of this.

Convener of the BAPS organization and senior saint Sadguru P. Ishwarcharan Swami said that one of the characteristics of Swamiji's administrative skills was that he put a lot of faith in a person. If someone had a good idea, he would let them express it, give them the freedom to act on it, and even provide the necessary resources to execute it.

At first, the committee decided that a small, delicate concrete temple would be built in one place to meet the needs of the area and the satsang. However, a devotee residing there appealed to Swamiji that having lived there for years the devotees of the area have always wished for a big stone temple to be built there. So, Swamiji let go of the previous idea and immediately accepted this request. He assured them that a big stone temple would be built as per their wishes. Swamiji then constructed a beautiful, artistic stone temple adhering to the feelings of the local devotees. All the devotees of that region were moved and were elated with his devoted leadership. Thus, Swamiji's leadership has won the hearts of many. He would subordinate his own will and gave precedence to the will of others. He would prioritise others and keep everyone happy and simultaneously developed the organization.

The book ‘The Leadership Challenge’ states that, “Leadership is not an affair of the head. Leadership is an affair of the heart.” Swamiji empathized with the feelings of everyone's heart and followed this always.

As part of the master plan of a temple, some trees had to be transported. A meeting was held in the presence of Swamiji. One devotee mentioned the trees and said that they should be planned in a proper way, as it would become difficult to re-grow the same trees in new soil. Then Swamiji advised him to see the larger context and made him understand that he himself had kept aside his own views and the devotee should also do the same. The organizers were surprised to hear this as Swamiji had never discussed this with them in any meeting. It was Swamiji’s wish that an old part of the existing structure should have been there, but it was eliminated in the master plan.

In this way, Swamiji often got involved in the planning with others and cooperated with them. Whenever he felt that there could be a conflict of ideas, he would let go of his thoughts and give priority to what the other person had in mind and that too without letting the other person know. This was the characteristic of Swamiji's devoted leadership.

Being a devoted leader was instinctive for him. He would never even harbour thoughts of getting work done from others. He only thought about what would be the best for everyone.

Well-known author James Stock in his book ‘Serve to Lead’ states that, “21st century leadership relationship dynamics are from the bottom up rather than the top down; from the outside in, rather than inside out.” Swamiji’s devoted leadership personified this. He would comply with the wishes of others instead of commanding others.

Sadhu Amrutvadandas

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Thanks Giving

This article is written and submitted to The E Today by Sadhu Amrutvadandas.

We thank swamiji for his research and analysis and hope to see the awareness about life and peace being spread ahead to larger mass of our citizens.

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