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10 Leadership Lessons from Lord Ganesha

By | Sunil Malik | Implementation Head – North India at MoveInSync

Lord Ganesha is a very special deity in the Hindu tradition. We worship Lord Ganesha to attain success in our endeavors. Also, in order to appease any God, we first offer prayers to Lord Ganesha and then proceed with the other deity’s worship.

With an objective of highlighting key leadership traits, I have taken the symbolic meaning of Lord Ganesha’s body image and come up with few lessons that help us become successful leaders.

Lord Ganesha is bestowed with a special body with the head of an elephant and remaining parts of human body, symbolizing certain qualities that a strategic leader must possess to achieve success. Every part of the body of Lord Ganesha has its own significance. Here’s the complete list:

Head: The brain of an elephant is heavier than a man’s and it has more complex folds than all animals except whales. They show grief, humor, compassion, cooperation, self-awareness, tool-use, playfulness, and excellent learning abilities. So, elephant’s head represents emotional intelligence. Elephants have a delicate head (their brain is protected by 2 cranium humps over their foreheads), so unlike other animals they avoid head butts. This is an indication that a leader must not indulge in conflicts when provoked by others, so this is the first lesson:

  • Stay focused and avoid unnecessary confrontations

Ear: Ears symbolize listening skills, so elephant’s ear makes an ideal combination for a strategic leader, as he needs to listen to everything with a calm mind. The positioning of tongue is far behind w.r.t the trunk and the tongue is almost invisible in an elephant’s body, meaning that a strategic leader should keep his tongue in check. An elephant listens more and listens better with its large and sensitive ears, indicating that a true leader pays detailed attention to everything from small to large.

  • Speak less and listen more

Vision: Elephants see more sideways, due to their eyes’ position, and they see better in dim light. The eyes of an elephant are located on the sides of the head and therefore provide better peripheral vision (angle of vision extending from the sides to the rear). A strategic leader must have more clarity during the crisis or uncertain times, meaning that he should provide direction and vision to his team during uncertain times.

  • Provide vision and clarity during uncertain times

Trunk: Nose is considered a symbol of prestige and ego in many traditions. A long nose indicates that a strategic leader must not forget his long term brand image instead should ignore all those acts that could tarnish that long term prestige and image of the business.

  • Keep an eye on your brand reputation

Elephants are very tactile in nature. They use their trunks to stroke, touch, caress, explore, slap, or block in defense or dominance situations. The trunk is so sensitive to touch that it is capable of perceiving pressure differences as light 0.25 mm in depth, which is equivalent to a light brush against the skin. A successful leader is the one who is sensitive towards the surroundings and possess contextual intelligence to response to key changes.

  • Possess contextual intelligence and sensitivity towards environmental changes

Teeth: Elephant’s teeth indicates keeping up appearances. Even when a strategic leader understands the reality, he still avoids unnecessary objections and keeps up his appearances as if he’s in agreement with the other persons. But such a behavior has a limit as too much of appearances give you a false identity and brings unnecessary presences. Hence, lord Ganesha has been given only the right side teeth, indicating that such behavior should have a balance and a certain limit. The left teeth is missing, meaning that for people who are critics and who don’t agree with you, you don’t need to pretend agreement with them, you can simply ignore them and focus on your work.

  • Strike a balance between an extrovert and an introvert personality

Human Throat: Among all animals, human beings are the best when it comes to verbal communication. Hence, a human throat indicates that strategic leader should have a clear communication practice and he should present facts as they are.

  • Possess strong communication skills

Four Human hands: It symbolizes that strategic leaders should focus on all aspects of the business, ‘Dharma’, ‘Artha’, ‘Kama’, ‘Moksha’, in other words, rightfulness, profitability, happiness, and in sync with the vision. All four aspects should be targeted to achieve long term success for a strategic leader.

  • Set Holistic vision and objectives for a sustainable growth

Big Stomach: Stomach indicates eating capacity and digestion capability. A strategic leader should have a very fat stomach so that he can digest all confidential information and secrets shared with him by other persons. He should have the capacity to maintain trust and confidentiality with his peers and team.

  • Maintain Trust with Your Partners

Mouse a Ganesha’s vehicle: Mouse symbolizes logic and doubt. In ‘Shrimadbhagvatgita’, it is said “sansyatma vinasyati” meaning too much of doubt destroys a person. Hence, Ganesha is depicted sitting over a mouse, indicating that he has control over his logic and doubt. A strategic leader must not let logic have a free rein. It should be practices with caution and within limits.

  • Keep restrain over your logic

A person embodying such qualities becomes the near and dear of the Supreme God — Shiva and Parvathi — the parents of our dear deity Ganesha. In other words, such qualities as possessed by Lord Ganesha are must have for a leader who aims to be successful.


Originally published by Sunil Malik  in LinkedIn

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