Dialogue Classic – The Gandhi principle: Five myths about soft leadership

Professor MS Rao argues that his new leadership paradigm is an idea whose time has come

Myth #1: Soft leadership is being soft with people

The truth is that soft leadership banks on people skills to lead people effectively. It emphasizes emotional intelligence with people-orientation without losing sight of task-orientation. Soft leadership is a combination of people skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills, and emotional intelligence.

Myth #2: Soft leadership is servant leadership

The truth is that soft leadership is about handling people with soft skills, persuasive skills, and negotiation skills to get the tasks executed effectively. In contrast, servant leadership is about serving others with a servant heart.

“Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.” – Mahatma Gandhi”

Myth #3: Soft leadership is charismatic leadership

Soft leadership prefers character to charisma. There are many charismatic leaders who sought their own survival rather than their legacy. They did not build next generation of leaders for fear of losing their position to their successors during their lifetime. Soft leadership emphasizes on character and believes in building next generation of leaders and making a difference in the lives of others. Soft leaders respect the dignity of labour. They value people as people, not as employees. They respect everyone irrespective of their rank and position from janitors to CEOs. They make others special.

Myth #4: Soft leadership is about soft power

It is a myth. Soft leadership is about using soft skills to handle people. People are different with their unique egos, emotions and feelings. And managing them is a big challenge. Soft skills help in leading them effectively.

Myth #5: Soft leadership is a submissive leadership

The truth is that soft leadership is neither submissive leadership nor lame duck leadership. In contrast, it is assertive leadership that believes in win-win for all stakeholders. It neither believes in aggressive nor submissive leadership. It is the art of leading politely and pleasingly to communicate with others to get the tasks executed effectively. It is the art of leadership politely but firmly to accomplish organizational goals and objectives.