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With a graduate degree in Educational Leadership, I have always been interested in learning about the qualities of a good noble leader. Many years ago, I came across the Buddhist teaching known as Dasa Raja Dhamma, the ten duties of a king. I became fascinated by this teaching and attempted to analyze the various monarchs and presidents of the modern world as well as leaders of organization and institution to see which leader possess these ten royal qualities.
Recently, I have begun to contemplate more and more about this teaching as I came to realize that in my personal circle of network, I know more ordinary people possess these qualities than organization founders, presidents, CEO, and directors. To me, those who possess these qualities are the true noble leaders regardless of whether they hold a formal leadership career position or not. They are in fact the leader of their life, master of their own mind, and an inspiration to all of us.
Ten Royal qualities of a Leader:
1. Dana - Generosity, charity, and givingThe leader shouldn't have craving and attachment to wealth and property; the leader should use them for the welfare of the people. For example, material giving means the gift of necessary requisites for the sustenance of human life as well as all types of beings such as animals. The second type of giving is the giving of ones time and energy to perform wholesome deeds such as helping others in need. The third type of giving is the sharing of knowledge. Among all these types of gifts, the highest gift is the gift of truth where one assists others to realize the true nature of things.
2. Sila - Virtue
The leader must have a high moral character. At the minimum, one should never destroy life, steal, commit adultery, exploit others, tell lies, or take intoxicants. A high level of virtue means one should practice wholesome speech by abstaining from uttering harsh speech, idle chatter and malicious talk. High moral character also means abstinence from unwholesome livelihood such as trades in firearm, drugs, etc.
3. Pariccaga - Sacrifice
The leader must be prepared to give up his/her own personal comfort, name, fame, and even his/her life for the welfare of those he/she serves.
4. Ajjava - Honesty, integrity and uprightness
The leader must be free from fear or favor in carrying out his/her duties. One must be sincere in ones intentions, and must not deceive the public. This means that one must always identifies and upholds the truth under any circumstances and have the wisdom to understand that the truth will ultimately prevails. To practice this noble quality, one must also speak the truth which is part of the virtue quality (sila).
5. Maddava - Kindness and Gentleness
The leader must posses a genial temperament and treats others with loving-kindness. One must possess a mind that is soft, humble and calm as opposed to a mind that is strict, arrogant, and stormy.
6. Tapa - Austeriy in habits
The leader should lead a simple life, practice self control, and not indulge in excessive luxury. When one practices restraint of the senses and contentment with little, it leads to the development of the qualities of giving (dana) and sacrifice (pariccaga) as it becomes easier to give up ones comforts, wealth, and pleasures for the welfare of others.
7. Akkodha - Freedom from hatred, ill-will, and enmity
The leader should never hold a grudge against anyone.
8. Avihimsa - Non-violence
The leader should promote peace by preventing violence and war.
9. Khanti - Patience, forbearance, tolerance, and understanding
The leader must be able to bear hardships, difficulties and insults without losing his/her temper. One has to have patience to realize ones objectives and to uphold the truth. One has to have the capacity to forbear obstacles that come in ones way or harassment that is directed towards one in the process of safeguarding the truth.
10. Avirodha - Non-conflict, non-opposition and non-obstruction
The leader should never obstruct any measures that are conducive to the welfare of the people. One must have the wisdom and equanimity to avoid falling into situations of unnecessary conflict, argument and debate. When one is rich in wisdom and equanimity, ones mind is calm and serene, and is not shaken when one is provoked.
Now your turn. Which leader of the present or past do you think possess all these ten royal qualities? Perhaps you know someone personally that embodies all these nobles qualities?
Thus We Heard: Recollections of the Life of the Buddha by Bhante Walpola Piyananda & Stephen Long