Genuine Leadership

This is the third in a series of articles based on the Six Ways of Ruling, a teaching that was first presented by the founder of Shambhala, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1978 and further expounded upon by his son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, in his book Ruling Your World (Chapters 22-23). The “Six Ways” are qualities of a leader who wishes to join heaven and earth; that is, to execute power inspired by wisdom. The six qualities are: benevolent, true, genuine, fearless, artful, and rejoicing. This article is based on a talk given on December 20, 2012 at the Washington, DC Shambhala Center.

Genuineness follows naturally from being benevolent and true

In my last two posts, I discussed how wisdom leaders are both benevolent (that is, they want the good for people and society) and true (or faithful to the belief in the basic goodness inherent in individuals, society, and situations).  The third quality of such a leader is that he or she be genuine—the “real deal”, so to speak.  This follows naturally from being benevolent and true.  If you are looking out for the best for those for whom you are responsible and you believe in their inherent worth and potential, how could you act duplicitously?  However, I could imagine that a leader could talk a good game and use the argument that he is only looking out for the best interest of the staff, the company, your family, etc. as a mask for forwarding his own selfish agenda. This would be presenting the face of benevolence and the perception of being true, or sincere, but it would lack genuineness because underneath, one’s true intentions would not be pure. So being “genuine” really means putting your money where your mouth is, “walking the walk”, or “walking the talk,” as is sometimes said.

Like a star in the sky

star-in-the-sky_200x200When a leader is genuine, it is said to be like a star the sky which everyone can see. You may not like or agree with the leader’s words or policies, but at least you know what you’re hearing is what you’re going to get.  You know the leader’s vision and the actions are going to be consistent with that vision.  As Shambhala President  Richard Reoch has said, “it’s like a global positioning system for the group.”  People look at the leader’s vision and listen to his words and say “Ah, THAT’S why we’re doing this!” So there’s a certain logic to it, you could say. That is also an aspect of being genuine.

The perpetually arising open heart is good enough

There can be a tendency when leading to try to manipulate events or messages so that people will follow you. This is not genuine leadership, though.  As Sir Martin Janowitz, a long-time student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, points out in The Six Ways of Ruling, genuine leaders trust that the “perpetually arising open heart” is good enough. There’s no need to sell that. We just need to be natural and those who can see and who trust basic goodness will follow naturally.  So genuine leadership is leadership in a direction that feels natural in that it moves us forward logically from what we want deep in our hearts.

Visit the Shambhala Center in February for a talk on the fourth Way of Ruling—Fearlessness.

by Chris Montone