The Role of Wisdom Vs Emotional Intelligence in Leadership of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Virtues of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
  • Proactive Leader
    Strategic Leader
    Prudent Leader
    Role Model
  • Conclusion


Great leaders have been shaping the social, technological, economic and political environ of the Tamil Nadu. All these leaders have been nurtured with the values and virtues of the ancient rich Tamil literatures, especially Thirukkural.

Mighty in word, of unforgetful mind, of fearless speech,

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'Tis hard for hostile power such man to overreach. (vs. 647)

It is impossible for anyone to conquer him by intrique who possesses power of speech, and is neither

faulty nor timid

The above kural express the virtues required for a ruler- true to the couplet the great Chola, Pandiya and Pallava kings had been exemplary rulers. With their leadership skills they had been successful administrators and great conquerors.

A tongue that rightly speaks the right is greatest gain,

It stands alone midst goodly things that men obtain. (vs. 641)

The possession of that goodness which is called the goodness of speech is (even to others) better than any other goodness

Bharathiar, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai and Veerapandi Kattabomai were skillful leader. With their oratorical skill along with skills in writing, entrepreneurship and warfare these leaders challenged the British administrators and fought bravely for the Independence of India.

Expenditure, return, and profit of the deed

In time to come; weigh these- than to the act proceed. (vs. 461)

Let a man reflect on what will be lost, what will be acquired and (from these) what will be his ultimate gain, and (then, let him) act. Kamarajar, Annadurai, Karunanidhi and M. G. Ramachandran were great strategic leaders. With their foresight these leaders implemented policies toward socio economic development and long term sustainable growth of Tamil Nadu

Virtues of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is the iconic leader of the 21st century. His strong emotional intelligence and an intellectual career shaped him to be contemporary leader. His leadership qualities were highly appreciated globally. He captured the heart of the kids and the elderly, peasant and policy makers, rich and the poor. His speeches were very simple and easily understood by all. Enumerated below are four leadership virtues practices by Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. These virtues are case analysed based on some of the couplets of the world famous Thirukkural.

Proactive Leader

When hardest gain of opportunity at last is won,

With promptitude let hardest deed be done. (vs. 489)

If a rare opportunity occurs, while it lasts, let a man do that which is rarely to be accomplished (but for such an opportunity).

Dr. Abdul Kalam maximized all the opportunities he received in his life, for the betterment of himself, his family and the society at large. He learnt the art of interpersonal relationship when he befriended a Brahmin (an act of caste discrimination). He learnt the adaptability skill when he boldly moved out of his fishermen’s clove to cities for his higher education. Even in his career a failed attempt to join the Indian Air force did not stop Dr. APJ to resilience and succeed in his second best opportunity at ISRO. His success at ISRO gave him the opportunity to elected as the President of India. As the first citizen of the nation, he used this golden opportunity to inspire the youth to make India a fully developed nation.

Strategic Leader

Who know what can be wrought, with knowledge of the means, on this,

Their mind firm set, go forth, nought goes with them amiss. (vs. 472)

There is nothing which may not be accomplished by those who, before they attack (an enemy), make themselves acquainted with their own ability, and with whatever else is (needful) to be known, and apply themselves wholly to their object. A great leader is on who is determined to accomplish his mission by seeing the big picture of issues, overviewing the situations, analyzing and taking action with the consent of the stakeholders. Such was the leadership quality of Dr. Abdul Kalam. As a young boy he determined to conquer the sky, he rose to conquer the space, and put India in the elite map of space researcher. As the President he determined to use his position to transform India into a developed nation, thus was born his vision 2020.

Prudent Leader

The wise is rich, with ev'ry blessing blest; The fool is poor, of everything possessed. (vs. 430) Those who possess wisdom, possess everything; those who have not wisdom, whatever they may possess, have nothing. Dr. APJ was a prudent leader, as he possessed great wisdom in varied fields. His speeches and writing were simple but with great values for happy living. His motivational quotes are a living proof of his prudent leadership quality. Dr. Kalam’s wisdom made him a global leader. He was invited to great forums. With great passion he delivered the speeches. Many a times quoting from ancient tamil literatures. His eloquent speeches focused on peaceful coexistence, sensible use of natural resources and energy and righteous and integrity life style among citizens of the world.

Role Model

Like staff in hand of him in slippery ground who strays. Are words from mouth of those who walk in righteous ways. The words of the good are like a staff in a slippery place. Dr. A. P. J.Abdul Kalam was a god sent gift to our nation in the early 21st century. He became the President of India at the time when India had a large educated human capital with no proper leaders to shape these young adults’ skill, knowledge and attitude. Dr. APJ’s quote on virtuous living, his straight forward speeches- usually listed with 5-8 points, interactive seminars and open discussions has inspired and shaped many a young managers and entrepreneurs.


The greatness of Dr. APJ and that of other great leaders of Tamil origin can be attributed to their imbedded virtues of Thirukkural. The short and sweet couplets of Thiruvalluvar has been the guiding force for the great leaders to perceive, think and act with integrity, loyalty, honesty, respect, concern and fairness. It’s time we the present generation too, starts to inculcate and practice the virtues of the rich treasures of Thirukkural. Let us not learn Thirukkural for academic scores or to win sweet hearts. Let us live the virtues found in the rich Tamil literatures, so as to recreate a bold and a glorious Tamil Nadu.

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