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Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita
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Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita

  • Ace Simpson - Brunel Business School, Brunel University London


November 2019 | 344 pages | SAGE Publications Pvt. Ltd

For professionals navigating negative corporate karmas, Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita offers a way forward for overcoming self-defeating habits and managing the mind’s negative chatter that is often the main obstacle to effective leadership. By promoting a leadership approach of caring for followers, stakeholders and future generations, the book offers hope for harmonious workplace relations and a protected environment. Based on leadership by inspiration as opposed to leadership by control, Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita provides an alternative to conventional leadership. Particularly, in the times we live, where there is a crisis of faith in leadership, the insights from this book presents a vision of linked-leadership—leaders who are linked through loving-connection or bhakti-yoga with themselves (through self-knowledge), with other beings, with nature and with the supreme source. As exemplified by Krishna taking over the reins of Arjuna’s chariot, the crux of this book is leadership, not as a title or position, but as a commitment to service, excellence and virtuous character that motivates and inspires others to pursue the same. The unique insights from this book will help you make sense of different personality types to motivate others according to their natures and inclinations, which will support you in forming effective teams and creating a harmonious and prosperous organizational culture. In short, this book challenges and equips leaders to step up and cultivate unity and diversity, and achieve sustainable wellbeing and happiness in their organizations.


 
Preface
 
Acknowledgements
 
Introduction
 
SELF-LEADERSHIP AND SERVANT-LEADERSHIP
 
Leadership Values in Conflict
 
Self-Awareness in Leadership
 
Work as Yoga
 
Timeless Leadership
 
Leadership Towards Freedom
 
Meditation and Leadership
 
HIGHER PURPOSE
 
Leadership as the Yoga of Love
 
Leadership and the Supreme Position
 
Confidential Knowledge
 
Leadership and Infinite Divinity
 
Seeing the Integrated Whole
 
Devotional Leadership
 
HOLISTIC SYSTEMS
 
The Leader as the Knower of the Field
 
Transcendent Leadership
 
Leadership as Higher Consciousness
 
Divine and Demoniac Dispositions
 
Three Leadership Styles
 
Concluding Leadership Lessons
 
Afterword: The Linked-Leadership Model
 
Bibliography

With the modern day technologies and education, many have access to vast and varied content on leadership to learn from and build their skills. As a lifelong student of technology and leadership, I see

a very unique way in which Dr Simpson has translated the timeless teachings of the Bhagavad Gita into the linked-leadership model connecting four core and essential elements—higher purpose, selfawareness, servant leadership and holistic systems. These are in turn linked to the foundational teachings of the 700 verses forming the fabric that connects everything together in a logical manner. The work offers leaders invaluable perspectives on human psychology, motivation, strategy, culture, sustainability and a service orientation that are derived from the work’s deep spiritual foundation. Even

those who are unconvinced by the work’s philosophical rather than empirical basis will at the very least have a basis for reflecting on how leadership might be done differently—with greater humility, respect

and compassion. I highly recommend this book to build, enrich and refine one’s leadership skills to achieve the best performance from themselves and their organizations.

Upendra M. Kulkarni,
Vice President, Firmware and Software Engineering, Intel Corporation

Those of us familiar with India’s ancient book of wisdom, the Bhagavad Gita, tend to roll our eyes when we see yet another translation of it published or yet another commentary, especially one about ‘the Gita on Leadership’. But with Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita, I am not just happily surprised, but frankly amazed to see how deftly Ace Simpson has brought forth the Gita’s wisdom to illuminate the very depths of what it means to be and to act as a leader in all spheres of one’s life, bringing real benefit

for both the leader and those who would follow. The translation of the original text is both faithful to the text and finely done, the reflections are richly illuminating for deep understanding of what is true leadership, and insights are backed up with references for empirical support. If today’s leaders-to-be read this book and imbibe its teachings, there is great hope for our world.

Kenneth Valpey
Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, Oxford, UK

Dr Simpson’s mastery in the field of leadership through his PhD and academic career, and his deep understanding of the great spiritual text the Bhagavad Gita, which has been his guiding light since childhood, render him uniquely qualified to make this marvellous contribution: Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita. He provides apt translations of all verses from the Bhagavad Gita, which he elegantly arranges in a thematic fashion and shares his sagacious reflections, which are deeply profound. The significant leadership lessons that Dr Simpson draws should be relevant across a wide spectrum of situations—personal, interpersonal and organizational. A must read for all leaders in today’s turbulent environment—be that turbulence internal or external.

Ravi Kathuria,
Professor, and James and Lynne Doti Chair in Operations Management, The George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University, Orange, CA, USA

The Bhagavad Gita, which is a small part of the Mahabharata, is predominately considered to be a spiritual, religious and philosophical text for many followers of Sanatana Dharma. But an in-depth research of the Bhagavad Gita reveals that its message is universal and also applicable in organizational management and leadership. The great effort made by Dr Ace Simpson in presenting Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita will not only be useful for Indian business leaders, but will provide the psychological and philosophical insights for Western business leaders too.

Balakrishnan Muniapan,
Associate Professor in Human Resource Management, Wawasan Open University, Malaysia

Dr Ace Simpson’s well-structured thesis on sustainable, empowered leadership from the perspective of the Bhagavad Gita achieves the impressive task of combining the Gita’s penetrating life wisdom with an experienced voice on organizational behaviour. The result is a timeless and yet timely blueprint for evolved human conduct. Simpson’s translation of the Gita is complemented by a collection of reflections that balance deep philosophical insights with a pragmatic and achievable model for a new era of higher-minded leadership. At once spiritual and academic, and personal and directive, this book is an essential reading for those who wish to understand and deepen their own potential while positively impacting the lives of the people they teach, care for and lead.

Simon Haas,
Teacher of yoga philosophy; Author of The Book of Dharma and Yoga and the Dark Night of the Soul

Good leadership is essential in all aspects of life. Drawing from the ancient wisdom of India’s pre-eminent scriptural text, the 5,000-yearold Bhagavad Gita, Ace Simpson shares with us knowledge that can inspire today’s leaders to fulfil their responsibilities in working with those under their command. Along with practical advice that made successful leaders through the ages, Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita stresses leadership combined with empathy and compassion. After all, a leader’s greatest asset is the men and women under his or her command. This is not just another modern-day book on leadership. It is unique in that it draws from the sagacity of the divine.

Indradyumna Swami,
Monk, author and spiritual teacher

Leadership requires a clear moral compass and a compelling vision which others can follow. This dazzling book might offer a way to remedy the sad lack of both today. It lucidly spells out practical lessons for today’s leaders by mining the profound wisdom of the Baghavad Gita in a new way. The ‘linked-leadership model’ prescribes ways to build effective relationships by wise leaders who have learned a level of self-awareness in order to succeed. If anyone is equipped to bridge the worlds of how yoga scripture can build modern management success with surprising insights, Dr Simpson is the man.

Mark O’Brien
Founder of Qi Health & Yoga and yoga teacher, Sydney, Australia

Approaches to organizational sustainability are often biased towards the environmental component, while the human social one is neglected. What we need is a balanced perspective that puts both human beings and (the other elements of) nature at the core of organizational (and societal) sustainability. Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita is a highly valuable contribution to understand how virtuous leaders may be crucial agents in pursuing such an endeavour. Ace Simpson helps us to understand how leaders may manage themselves and others in the pursuit of a more meaningful life. He shows how the 700-verse Sanskrit scripture represents a noble repository of wisdom for leaders who aim to discover paths to be wiser, more humble, better human beings and virtuous builders of organizational and societal sustainability.

Arménio Rego
Professor, Católica Porto Business School, Porto, Portugal

The most comprehensive and thoughtful analysis of the Bhagavad Gita. The book provides its readers with a unique and effective approach to the important issues facing leaders today. Every leader or future leader should read this book.

Charles A. Rarick, PhD
Professor of International Business, Purdue University, Northwest Hammond, IN, USA

Dr Ace Simpson’s book Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita takes ancient wisdom from a sacred text and interprets it for contemporary life and society. It challenges any notions of leadership we may have as a position of authority to instead consider it as an invitation to commit ourselves to service, excellence and virtuous character. What is unique in his approach is the herculean effort of translating and interpreting all 700 verses and 18 chapters of the Bhagavad Gita.

Gopi Kallayil,
Chief Evangelist, Digital Marketing, Google; Author of The Internet to the Inner-net and The Happy Human

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ISBN: 9789353286866
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