Bringing Buddha to Work

Leaders and those who are charged with leadership development can consider this informative comparison.  Harvard Business contributor and coach, Marshall Goldsmith posted a compelling article titled, Management Advice from Buddha.  The premise of his article is that the fundamental principles of good leadership are largely parallel to the Buddhist principle of non-attachment. 

Non-attachment, at its heart, is the practice of letting go.  People who have a permanent hunger for personal learning are people who welcome change; in fact, they embrace change.  And those who look forward to seeing a new practice or idea have an easier time letting go. 

Leaders must be comfortable with the idea of change.  Those who are threatened by it cannot successfully manage.

According to Goldsmith:marshall goldsmith

Buddha suggested that his followers only do what he taught if it worked in the context of their own lives. He encouraged people to listen to his ideas, think about his suggestions, try out what made sense – keep doing what worked – and to just “let go” of what did not work.

Similarly, I teach my clients to ask their key stakeholders for suggestions on they can become more effective leaders then listen to these ideas, think about the suggestions, try out what makes sense – keep doing what works – and let go of what does not.

When our stakeholders give us suggestions on how we can become more effective, we can look at these suggestions as gifts – and treat our stakeholders as gift-givers. When someone gives you a gift you wouldn’t say, “Stinky gift!” “Bad gift!” or “I already have this stupid gift!” You would say, “Thank you.”

If you can use the gift – use it. If you don’t want to use the gift, put it in the closet and “let it go.”

You would not insult the person who is trying to be nice by giving you a gift. In the same way, when our stakeholders give us ideas, we don’t want to insult them or their ideas. We can just learn to say, “Thank you.”

We cannot promise to do everything that people suggest we should do. We can promise to listen to our key stakeholders, think about their ideas, and do what we can. This is all that we can promise – and this is all that they expect.

Dr.Goldsmith is the author of the New York Times best seller, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. He has worked with more than 80 CEOs and their management teams and been recognized as one of the world’s leading executive educators and coaches in Forbes, Business Week, and The Economist, among others.

Dr. Goldsmith has a fabulous website, which he calls a “Library” filled with videos, lots of free resources, and other articles.

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