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“You have to do the right thing… You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result” and “Be the change that you want to see in the world” – Mohandas Gandhi. Mohandas K. Gandhi was a Visionary and Ethical Leader. He was the driving force behind India’s independence from United Kingdom and developed innovative ideas to lead the independence movements. Gandhi faced so many challenges during resistance movements and the times were turbulent with British government’s crackdown on protests and economic uncertainty; however, he did not compromise his ethics. In this paper I will discuss how Gandhi used his visionary and ethical leadership traits to further India’s freedom movements and protect his people. Moreover, I will discuss my relevance Gandhi’s with leadership traits and how they shaped my leadership in my Air Force career.
Visionary Leader Gandhi demonstrated the characteristics of a true Visionary Leader by having vision for an independent India and through application of Team Dynamics “Creator” trait and Full Range Leadership “Idealized Influence” trait he was able to accomplish his vision. Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education [BCEE] (2016a) Team Dynamics lesson states that “Creator” often generates fresh, original concepts and new ideas in ways that defy generally accepted structures or rules. Gandhi demonstrated the creator trait by coming up with the ideas to boycott British made goods & services, organizing non-violence civil disobediences and urging others do the same (“Mahatma Gandhi,” 2018). He followed what he preached which motivated others to follow him, which is “Idealized Influence” from Full Range Leadership, “walk the talk” (BCEE, 2016b, p. 11). He used a spinning wheel to make his own clothes and he lead freedom resistance by being in the forefront of the demonstrations, which invigorated others to follow his lead. (“Mahatma Gandhi,” 2018).
In my view a visionary leader develops a vision and innovative ways to accomplish that vision. Therefore, Gandhi’s vision for an independent India and methods he developed to accomplish his vision is a true representation of a visionary leader. Now that I discussed Gandhi’s visionary leadership let’s examine his ethical leadership. Ethical Leader Gandhi was an ethical leader in his actions while leading resistance movement for an independent India through the use of ethical leadership and critical thinking. Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education [BCEE] (2016c) states that an “Ethical Dilemma,” can stem from “Potential Harm,” which are caused by decisions leaders’ make. Or in other words, the intentional and unintended (good or bad) consequences caused by the leaders’ actions. Leaders should always attempt to anticipate and consider the second and third order consequences when making decisions.
In 1922 sporadic violence broke out during the freedom movements between people of India and the British government and if the movements continued there would be mass casualties from the demonstrations (“Mohandas Gandhi,” 2010). Gandhi was faced with ethical dilemma either to continue the resistance where his followers would encounter potential harm and achieve advancement toward the independence or suspend the campaigns which would hinder freedom movement. He decided to suspend the demonstrate to protect his people from potential harm (“Mohandas Gandhi,” 2010). Moreover, Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education [BCEE] (2016c) defines “Drive for Success,” as an “Ethical Trap,” and in this instance, it seems Gandhi was able to avoid falling into ethical trap “Drive for Success” by not following ‘win at all cost” (BCEE, 2016c, p. 8) attitude and suspending the denominations. In my view his decisions were the acts of an ethical leader. Gandhi also used “Intellectual Courage” to bring about change for his entire nation, even though he knew the “penalties for nonconformity can be severe” (BCEE, 2016d, p. 15).
Gandhi displayed intellectual courage by openly criticizing and challenging British governance of India. He used courageous thoughts when he decided to boycott British made goods, called for mass boycott of goods and services manufactured by Great Britain and organized and led demonstration to gain India’s independence (“Mahatma Gandhi,” 2018). Although, he was imprisoned for six years and would face with consequences he did not stop continuing challenge the British government and led resistance for India’s independence (“Mohandas Gandhi,” 2010).
In my opinion Gandhi’s actions, decisions, behaviors were the acts of an ethical leader. He was a true practitioner of intellectual courage to challenge the status regardless of the consequences. In my view his ability to avoid ethical dilemma, ethical traps, apply critical thinking, lead by example, and develop new ways to move India toward an independence state is the embodiment of not just an ethical leader but a forward-thinking visionary leader. His well thought out visionary and ethical leader decisions were eye opening for me and my leadership. Personal Relevance Gandhi’s visionary and ethical leadership actions, decisions, behaviors have made me to reflect and realize about my leadership effectiveness throughout my Air Force career. I realized that like Gandhi I also have used “Idealized Influence” trait of full range leadership and avoided ethical trap “Drive for Success” in my career to lead my team for effective mission accomplishments.
In 2012 when my work center had to implement 7 days and 12-hour shifts for a month to prep for a Unit Compliance Inspection, I was the first one to put my name on the schedule. Because of my action my peers and subordinates were influenced to follow my lead and decided to sign up for remaining of the shifts. The inspection prep went smoothly, and my unit was ready to execute cyber effects to put bomb on target. I also leverage idealized influence by “walking the talk” I am the first one to arrive at work and last one to leave. I also participate in non-glamorous tasks that I ask of my subordinates to do i.e. taking the trash out, stock the snack bar and cleanup the office area, which inspires my team to follow my lead and enhances Air Force’s mission to provide security to our nation.
I discussed how Gandhi did not fall into ethical trap “drive for success” by not following ‘win at all cost” attitude. I also avoided ethical trap “drive for success” in my career. One of the examples is, in 2011 when I was deployed to Al Udied AB, my supervisor communicated to me that if I can resolve all the communication outages within 24 hours of reporting, he was going to ensure that I get nominated for quarterly award and a decoration from that tour. I decline his offer instantly because my subordinates were already putting in 14 hours on most days and working 6 days, and I could not and did not want to ask them to work any longer than they already were. By avoid to this ethical trap I was able to take care of my team and enhance my leadership effectiveness. Moreover, enhance my team’s morale, motivation and strengthen team cohesiveness to accomplish the mission to carry out theater-wide air combat missions.
Mohandas K. Gandhi was a Visionary and Ethical Leader Gandhi was visionary leader. Gandhi demonstrated the characteristics of a true Visionary Leader by having vision for an independent India and through application of Team Dynamics “Creator” trait and Full Range Leadership “Idealized Influence” trait he was able to accomplish his vision. Moreover, he applied innovative ideas to generate movements for India’s independent and he led that by example. Gandhi was an ethical leader in his actions while leading resistance movement for an independent India through the use of ethical leadership and critical thinking. He was able to make the right decision when he faced an ethical dilemma and avoided potential harm to his people, ethical trap ‘drive for success’ and used intellectual courage to challenge British government’s status quo and ruling of India. Through research and reflection, I was able to realize that I also applied idealized influence to accomplish missions in my Air Force career. Additionally, like Gandhi I was also able to avoid ethical trap “drive for success” and lead my team effectively to put bomb on target. “You have to do the right thing… You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result” and “Be the change that you want to see in the world” – Mohandas Gandhi. As a leader will you do the right thing and be the change you want to see in the world.
1. Mohandas Gandhi. (2010). Retrieved July 22, 2018, from https://www.history.com/topics/mahatma-gandhi Pal, Amitabh. Gandhi’s Ethics, Tactics, Example Still Serve Well. (1998, Jan 30).
2. Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved July 22, 2018, from http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1998-01-30/news/9801290461_1_gandhi-s-ethics-mahatma-gandhi-nonviolence
3. Mahatma Gandhi. (2018). Retrieved July 22, 2018, from https://www.biography.com/people/mahatma-gandhi-9305898
4. Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education. (2016a). SA03, Team Dynamics. Maxwell- Gunter Annex, AL: Author.
5. Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education. (2016b). DL03, Full Range Leadership. Maxwell- Gunter Annex, AL: Author. Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education. (2016c). EL05, Ethical leadership.
6. Maxwell- Gunter Annex, AL: Author. Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education. (2016d). SA02, Critical thinking. Maxwell- Gunter Annex, AL: Author.