Leadership Theories: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

The application of leadership skills in businesslife on a great leader of our time

Seminar Paper, 2010

11 Pages, Grade: 2,0




Chapter 1 Description of Gandhi

Chapter 2 Gandhi as a leader
2.1 Ethical leadership
2.2 Servant leadership
2.3 Spiritual leadership

Chapter 3 Gandhi in business life




What makes a great leader great? What kind of skills does he use? By writing about one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, I was able to answer parts of these questions. I wondered why people still recognize him for his behavioral skills and whether it is possible to replicate those e.g. in business life. I found that it were not only techniques that he used to lead, but just as much will power and true belief.

Chapter 1 Description of Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi has been a political, spiritual and ideological leader of India. He was born in 1869 in Porbandar, India, but was assassinated in 1948 by a Hindu extremist.

Primarily Gandhi was not only a political but ethical leader. His main principles were Satyagraha, the belief in truth, Ahimsa, non-violence and Swaraj, which means individual as well as political self-policing.

Gandhi is very well known for his role as the leader of the Indian Independence Movement and became Mahatma, the Great Soul of India. Gandhi encouraged the people of India to free their own state and defeat the British with their own weapons. What made him famous is his non-violence, non-cooperative approach he believed in. (cf. McMahon, 2004, p.18)

Gandhi studied law in London and returned to India to practice his studies afterwards. Two years later he went to South Africa to do legal work and stayed there for 21 years. At that time South Africa was still controlled and owned by the British and an Indian minority was living there.

While Gandhi was in South Africa he faced direct discrimination against the Indians. He was thrown out of the train when he refused to move to 3rd class even though he bought a 1st class ticket. (cf. Nojeim, 2004, p.73)

These happenings were the turning point in Gandhi’s life. While he protested against the British government he developed a new way of resistance. The basic principle of this form of resistance was non-violence and civil disobedience. Gandhi believed that behavior is more important than achievement. Therefore he also demanded peaceful coexistence of the religions.

The biggest achievement in his career during the Independence Movement was the Salt March which finally led to the British government to release India. In India it was forbidden to sell or harvest salt, by marching more than 300km to the sea and just doing that, Gandhi set a symbolic sign and ridiculed the British.

After the Independence of India Gandhi continued his work. He spoke up a for a united India where everyone would be recognized.

Critics claim the limitation of his support to Indian people only. Some people even found Gandhi a racist because he refused black people.

He was nominated for the Peace Nobel Price five times and got killed the year he was supposed to receive it.

Chapter 2 Gandhi as a leader

In the following Gandhi’s leadership skills will be analyzed by the means of “Leadership in Organizations” by Gary A. Yukl.

When analysing Gandhi’s leadership skills, the focus will be on ethical, servant and spiritual leadership. Both are normative theories of an ideal to be accomplished. They focus on the relationship among people, thus on the leader and its followers. The values catered by both theories include “honesty, altruism, kindness compassion, empathy, fairness, gratitude, humidity, courage, optimism and resilience” (Yukl, 2009, p.348). These leadership theories are mainly based on humanitarian ideas included in most religions.

A good leader is not regarded as a person who “will use power, but whether they will use it wisely and well” (Yukl, 2009, p.329). This determines their power.

Gandhi never saw himself as a powerful leader. He was convinced people would follow his beliefs if they had a reason to do so. He considered himself an eye-opener and thus would never force his opinion upon people, but waited until they were ready to see it themselves.

2.1 Ethical leadership

As Gandhi is seen as one of the greatest ethical leaders of our time, the question arises: Why is that?

If one looks at ethical leadership Yukl points out that values, traits and behaviour need to be evaluated (cf. Yukl, 2009, p.330). Moreover an individual leader like Gandhi should be judged by his own values, his stage of moral development, his conscious intentions, the freedom of choice, his use of ethical and unethical behaviour or other types of influences used (cf. Yukl, 2009, p.330). Of course this is very subjective and Gandhi maybe seen as a great leader nowadays, but has been seen as a trouble stirrer by the British colonial power.


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Leadership Theories: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
The application of leadership skills in businesslife on a great leader of our time
Växjö University
Leadership Theories
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
490 KB
Gandhi, Gahndi, Ganhdi, Leadership, Leader, Servant Leadership, Ethical, ethic, ethics, ethical leadership, spiritual leadership, moral, business ethics, Gary a. yukl, The Three Faces of Leadership, Mary Jo, Hatch, Monika Kostera, Andrzej K. Koźmiński, Leadership in Organizations, Ethik, Führung, Unternehmensführung
Quote paper
Anna Lena Bischoff (Author), 2010, Leadership Theories: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/162383


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