According to Buddhist tradition there are three styles of compassionate leadership: the trailblazer who leads from the front, takes risks, and sets an example for others; the ferryman, who accompanies those in his care and navigates the ups and downs of the crossing; and the shepherd who sees everyone of his flock to safety before looking after his own. In Rotary, I have found all three styles of compassionate leadership but what all these have in common is a great desire to work for a conflict-free and happy world. I have completed 23 months of my 24-month tenure as Director, and this is my final over, to use a cricketing analogy. As Director I was fortunate enough to work with leaders in Rotary who practised each of these three styles of leadership quite successfully.
In my interaction with Rotarians in different parts of the world, I have often noticed that trust is a prime indicator of whether others evaluate them positively or negatively. By understanding the actions that emphasise trust, leaders are able to elevate the level of trust that others feel towards them. When we serve with integrity, our thoughts, feelings, words and actions are aligned.
Once, a few students met a seer and he asked them about their results and their marks in each of the subjects. The seer suddenly asked: “I have a question for you all. If you get 90 per cent in Physics, 60 per cent in Chemistry and 20 per cent in Maths, would you have passed the exam?” The answer was a resounding ‘No’. The seer asked ‘Why?’ The students started explaining the exam rules that one needs to pass all the three subjects to clear the exams. The seer smiled and asked, “Is that so? Suppose you are very good in action and get 90 per cent. In your speech too, you are good and hence get 60 per cent. But you are weak in thoughts and get only 20 per cent. Can you be considered to have passed in God’s exam?” There was pin-drop silence. The seer continued, “Just as you cannot pass your academic exams without passing in all the subjects, you cannot pass in God’s exam without doing well in thoughts, words and deeds. This is essentially Trikarana Shuddi (integrity) — the stepping stone on the journey to reach the Supreme Being.”
These 23 months have enhanced my vision to accomplish Rotary’s mission. It has been a great opportunity to learn and value the nuances of leadership from every Rotarian I met. Leadership is not just about leading, but more about stewardship, developing successors and creating value for Rotary through good work. Mala and I wholeheartedly thank all the RI senior leaders, my colleagues on the Board, TRF Trustees, magnanimous hearts, staff of Rotary International and RISAO, Rotary News Editor and staff, regional leaders, all past, present and incoming RI officers and every single Rotarian for their worthy contributions, wholehearted cooperation, and above all, for the love and affection showered on us at every place and event we visited, all of which helped me discharge my responsibilities as the Director of Zones 4, 5 and 6 to my entire satisfaction.
Thank you once again.
I wish all of you good health, prosperity and happiness!
Director, Rotary International