Buddhist Perspective on Leadership

9 January 2019

Each of us has his or her own definition of leadership. There is one famous saying, “A good leader means the right person places at the right place”.

U Thet Win Tun, working as a senior technical advisor for GIZ private sector development said that there are two perspectives from the foundation of Buddhist aspect. One is called Thila, which is about what we think, what we talk and how we act. Another one is called Ahgadi, which is basically a biased-conduct. Both of them are the two foundation of leadership from Buddhist perspective.

There are basically five precepts of Thila by Buddha, which are no murdering, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no false speech and no taking of intoxicants. Basically, we humankinds  have to keep those five precepts as a Thila, so that he or she will be regarded as a good leader, explained his experience by U Thet Win Tun.

Thila is actually meaning an internal aware and intentional ethical behavior. As a leader, he or she will have to ethical. Not only the person who is taking the leading role has to be ethical but it applies to every human-being.

From the stand of verbal, a person must not say a harm word or insulting word to other people. From the point of action, every human-being should not kill all living things. If a person violates it, that person would be considered as an unethical person. Moreover, we need to cultivate ourselves to have a good and right mindset. For instance, when we see our friends doing quite well in their businesses or doing well for their livings, we need to have the mindset that we are joyful by looking at their success. Importantly, for a great leader, the basic principal of leadership is we cannot lie. If we do that, the other consequences of mistakes can be followed and finally, can turn to the worst circumstance.

Here are some of essential quotes for the quality of being a good leader.

  1. “A good leader places the right person at the right place.”
  2. “A good leader accepts others’ good advice ”
  3. And “Live what you preach”.

During Myanmar Change Agent Network, MyCAN meeting with Aung Thuka Sayartaw, Sayartaw expressed, “once the right-hand side chief disciple of Gautama Buddha, AhShin Sariputtra, taught a young novice how to wear the robes properly. But when he stood up, his own robes had gotten out of place. When the young novice saw that, he asked the senior monk “could we also wear it like that?”. AhShin Sariputtra looked at himself and realized that his robes were uneven. He adjusted them and asked the novice with a gesture of respect if the robes were worn correctly. What it means is whoever regardless of rank and age can give advice to each other. We should take the good advice if it has advantages and benefits. That is one of the themes of Buddha’s teaching.”