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Sāttvika Leadership: An Indian Model of Positive Leadership

Abstract

I propose a leadership theory with moral concerns at its core. Sāttvika leadership (SL) is defined as a set of purposive leader actions comprising knowledge-driven cooperation that are initiated on the basis of positive and reasonably accurate assumptions and executed through morally responsible and sustainably fruitful means to secure the flourishing of followers and the collective. SL enhances psychological capital, psychological empowerment, and work engagement of followers while developing them into morally better persons. It enhances their trust on the leader and fellow followers. Further, it develops ethical climate of the organization.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. It was pointed out during review that actions may also modify the character of the actor and whether such effects come under the purview of daiva. This issue needs an appreciation of the Sāṁkhya view of action. At the ādhyātmika level of analysis, an action is defined in terms of the functioning of mental and sensory-motor organs (Āraṇya 1983). Such functioning becomes conserved as saṃskāra or mental impressions that remain latent and manifest on occasions. Thus, an action is the material cause of saṃskāra. The primary saṃskāra is called karmāśaya that manifests as effects for the actor such as pleasurable or painful experiences. For example, the killer may have to suffer painful experiences due to maturation of the impressions conserved during the act of killing. Experiences of the effects of karmāśaya create secondary saṃskāra called vāsanā that manifest as memories and tendencies to act in certain manners. It is vāsanā that is concerned with modifications of the character of the actor. Daiva, at the ādhyātmika level of analysis, is concerned with karmāśaya. Saṃskāra-related effects are not factored for the present purpose given the focus on the ādhibhautika level of analysis.

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Acknowledgments

I offer sincere gratitude to my guide and mentor Prof. E. Srinivas of XLRI for inspiring me to write this article. I thank Somnath Dutta, my former colleague, for his thought-provoking discussions that helped me better conceptualize this article. I sincerely thank the reviewers for deeply and compassionately engaging with my work. This work is an off-shoot of the main doctoral work that was supported by the Most Promising Doctoral Dissertation Award given by the Management, Spirituality, and Religion interest group of the Academy of Management, USA.

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Alok, K. Sāttvika Leadership: An Indian Model of Positive Leadership. J Bus Ethics 142, 117–138 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-015-2790-2

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Keywords

  • Action
  • Ethical
  • Indian philosophy
  • Sāttvika
  • Moral
  • Positive leadership
  • Spiritual