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A Higher Standard of Leadership

Though Gandhi is one of the most written-about figures of the twentieth century, this is the first book to apply lessons from his life to the practical tasks faced by contemporary leaders-from corporate managers and executives to government administrators, nonprofit professionals, educators, and others. In times shaped by colonialism, dictatorships, and two World Wars, Gandhi demonstrated that an idealist could also be a practical and effective leader. In our times of increasing cynicism about the quality of leadership we can expect and aspire to, Keshavan Nair reminds us that, "We are all engaged in leadership, in practicing it and selecting those who will lead." In A Higher Standard of Leadership, he offers a pragmatic guide based on the concepts Gandhi exemplified- o leadership is service, not a path to power and privilege; o effective goals, decisions, and strategies can be guided by moral principles; o a single standard of conduct, based on absolute values, should be maintained in both public and private life. A lifelong student of Gandhi's teachings and a businessman with more than 25 years of experience in corporate and governmental leadership development, Nair is uniquely positioned to bridge the two worlds. Using illustrative examples from Gandhi's life and writings, he identifies commitments-to conscience, openness, service, values, and reduced attachments-and describes the courage and determination necessary to work and lead by them. In simple and direct language, he explores the process of making decisions, setting goals, and implementing actions guided by the spirit of service and commitment to values that is essential to the realization of a higher standard of leadership in our workplaces and communities.
Product Details

Table of Contents

A single standard of conduct; the spirit of service; leadership is service; focus on responsibilities not rights; decisions and actions bounded by moral principles.

About the Author

Keshavan Nair was born in Patalia, India, and as a young man began his study of Gandhi. Educated in the British and American systems, Nair had a background in Eastern philosophy and religion, engineering, and decision and risk analysis. He was a corporate executive and served on the faculties of Ohio State University and the Indian Institute of Technology in Kampur, India. Nair passed away in 2002.


Consultant Nair has mined the writings and biographies of Gandhi for revealing insights into his philosophy of leadership. The result is a slim volume that is long on exhortation but short on practical business applications. For example, in his section entitled "Reconciling Power with Service," Nair writes that Gandhi used his power and influence only for the benefit of humanity, and although managers need not be totally committed to the service of others, Gandhi does say that "power is given to you by be used for the benefit of those whose trustee you are." While these are noble sentiments, they provide scant direction for a manager trying to figure out how to keep the competition from eating his or her lunch. Despite the lack of practical advice, organizational managers seeking a moral compass will find encouragement in this work. Also, public libraries will find this a useful addition to their existing collections about Gandhi.-Andrea C. Dragon, Coll. of Saint Elizabeth, Convent Station, N.J.

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