Sunday, January 1, 2017

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Shakti Leadership by Nilima Bhat and Raj Sisodia ; Published by Collins Business  ; Pages 179  ; Price Rs. 350/-


Raj Sisodia is the F. W. Olin Distinguished Professor of Global Business and Whole Foods Market Research Scholar in Conscious Capitalism at Babson College. He is also co-founder and co-chairman of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. The author of eight books, Sisodia is best known as the co-author (with  John Mackey) of Conscious Capitalism, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. Nilima Bhat is a trainer on organizational culture, conscious business, women in leadership, and self-awareness for work-life balance, as well as Indian wisdom and wellness traditions .She was for  10 years heading Corporate Communications and PR for major corporations such as ITC-Welcomgroup, Philips India, and ESPN STAR Sports. She graduated  in Life Sciences and Biochemistry, followed by a diploma in Social Communications Media.  She learnt  yoga at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre. A trained dancer and choreographer, she has co-founded a professional dance company (Sri Shakti) whose mission is to de-mystify Indian dance and spiritual sciences for international audiences.

 Leadership is believed to be  “masculine”,  hierarchical, militaristic, win-at-all-costs. This has resulted in corruption, environmental degradation, social breakdown, stress, depression, and a host of other serious problems. The method to restore balance to this lopsided way of leading lies in our  ancient spiritual and mythical teachings. The two authors  revive a feminine archetype of leadership: generative, cooperative, creative, empathetic. While these qualities are often thought of as “feminine,” we all have them; however, for people in leadership positions, they tend to be undervalued and underdeveloped. In the Indian yogic tradition, this feminine principle is recognized as supremely intelligent and responsive. It is personified as the Great Mother or Goddess Shakti and is the source that powers the cycle of life.

Using exercises and inspirational examples, we are guided in our  heroic journey to discover and responsibly access this source of infinite energy and begin to lead with our whole selves. Leaders who understand and practice Shakti Leadership act from a consciousness of life-giving caring, creativity, and sustainability to achieve self-mastery internally and be of selfless service to the world. When leaders across genders learn to embrace this mindset, we can restore sanity, elevate humanity, and heal the planet by evolving joyously and consciously together. 

Nilima has helped build  institutions and change-agents, especially women, who can lead the planet to sustainable solutions and positive impact. She also writes a column titled “Shakti Speaks” initiated by a leading Indian media house, aimed at restoring gender relations and based on dialogues within Women’s Circles. She is an active supporter of the Conscious Capitalism movement and Women’s International Networking. 

Approaching 50 and having “heroically journeyed” many times, through her mother’s cancer, father’s near-fatal car accident and brain injury, husband’s cancer, and her own search for meaning from a sudden sense of failure in a thriving corporate career,  Nilima has  found great meaning in leading or joining Peace Pilgrimages to the world’s sacred spots, from Kailash and Mansarovar in the Himalayas, to Machu Picchu and Titicaca in the Andes.
   According to Nilima Bhat  “The message of the book is one that can help balance the lopsided way of leadership. Reaching into ancient spiritual and mythical teachings, the book revives a feminine archetype of leadership: generative, cooperative, creative and empathetic”.

The  book showcases how men and women alike have been conditioned to value leadership qualities that emphasize ‘masculine’ behaviors and ‘win-at-all-cost’ attitudes. These hierarchical, individualistic and militaristic traits support corruption, environmental degradation, social breakdown, and a host of other serious problems. When leaders across sexes learn to embrace this mindset, we can restore sanity, elevate humanity, and heal the planet by evolving consciously together.”

Transformative as it is simple, in doing business the ‘right way,’ nothing has to be given up to become a market leader.  In fact, you can always be the good guy if you harness Shakti. The book advocates embracing Feminine and Masculine Power in Business and attempts to  pave a way to a new era of leadership in business, and strives to eradicate the inadequacy and dysfunction of the current leadership models across the world.

 Their new philosophy is Conscious Capitalism—that  is  changing the traditional narrative of business owners and businesses. Business should be led by leaders who care about people not just profits. Those companies which care about their customers, people, their communities and the environment are doing something meaningful. They are based on love and care and not just out there to exploit people. You have to create value. If you create value, profits will follow.

 The need of the hour is to address the crisis in consciousness and leadership the world faces today as the present-day leadership and business models are deficient .The current Indian generation is caught up in the old capitalism ideas whereas the US itself is looking at new consciousness ideas like conscious capitalism. Ask the authors “Why do we have to follow the same curve, why can’t we leapfrog and arrive into a more resolved state instead of going through all those mistakes.”

 “We may have a lot to learn from the West in terms of efficiency and organisation but our ancient wisdom has a lot to offer, giving a more holistic view.”Nilima, through her polarity map highlighted quintessential traits of men and women, and explained, “If you want to unlock your full shakti – you have to access both your polarities. Only when you access both, you come into your fullness, realising your true power. Both men and women have been habituated to regard leadership qualities that accentuate ‘masculine’ behaviour and winning at any cost. “These hierarchical and belligerent traits support corruption, environmental degradation, social breakdown and a multitude of other problems.”
They   reinforce the message that a restoration of balance is needed to rectify this skewed way of leading. For this they delve deep into the ancient and the spiritual.

 According to them, concepts such as Ardhanarishvara, representing the synthesis of the masculine and feminine energies of the Universe, is a profound one. The Ardhanarishvara symbol is such a powerful and beautiful way to put it. It’s not about being neutral or re-emphasising gender. It is about all the full spectrum of colours, having access to all the beautiful feminine and masculine qualities. In Western traditions there is complete absence of divine feminism. In our traditions it is so prominent. Most men here worship Goddesses. There is something that this tradition elevates the feminine and imbues it with all the positive human aspirational qualities like wisdom and prosperity.”

This book looks beyond the limited aims of enlarging profits and helping people lead more meaningful  lives.  

11 /  12  / 2016 

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