This study uses leadership theory and particular examples to examine Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's (played by Dev Patel) leadership style and power and influence strategies in the film Gandhi. The primary foundations of the study are Gandhi's own sense of self and his actions in connection to other people and the world around him. In addition, the theory is bolstered by frequent references to the bond he and his followers enjoyed. Finally, this study briefly contrasts Gandhi's and Jinnah's approaches to leadership.
Gandhi is known as "Mahatma" Gandhi, which translates to "great soul," and "bapu" in India, which means "father." He is revered as the "father of the country" in India since it was thanks to his efforts that the independence movement in India was able to acquire traction and led to India's independence in 1947. To name a few of Gandhi's many accomplishments, he was a national leader, freedom warrior, visionary, humanist, socialist reformer, and more. Not only has he served as an example and inspiration to the average person, but also to prominent figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.
To Define Leadership
"Leadership" is defined as "the act of persuading others to understand and agree about what needs to be done and how to do it, and the process of assisting individual and group efforts to reach agreed objectives" (Yukl, 2010).
How Gandhi Led
The qualities of a leader were present in Gandhi, but he was not born to the position (Exhibit 1). He was a humble guy who lived by the principles he held dear: solidarity, equality, truth, nonviolence, justice, and honesty. His principles and charisma were crucial in the struggle against the British Empire. He didn't rush things, but he kept at it, knowing full well how difficult it was to win India's freedom. Despite his occasional defiance, resistance, daring, and controversial nature, he was consistently peaceful, compassionate, humble, and polite. The following analysis reveals how he displayed the hallmarks of a charismatic leader, a transformative leader, and a level 5 leader.
Gandhi's Inspirational Management
Weber (1947) argues that unstable situations provide the ideal conditions for charismatic leaders to rise to the top. The film accurately portrays the decades of misery that the British rule brought to India. People wanted nothing more than to put a stop to the pain, but they had no idea how to do it. Gandhi paved the way for "Independent India" and spearheaded several social movements. Gandhi was able to emerge from the ranks of the common people in India's population and eventually lead his country to independence because of the country's socioeconomic crises.
It's vital to note that he did some quite out-of-the-ordinary things. He battled the British without resorting to violence, instead emphasising truth, nonviolence, noncooperation, and nonviolent opposition. His fans, who considered him as unusual and captivating, were fascinated and motivated by his unconventional methods of protest.
According to Yukl (2010), followers are more inspired by leaders that are willing to sacrifice for the greater good, take risks, and pay a high price in order to see their vision come to fruition. Throughout the film, Gandhi makes several individual concessions and takes several individual risks. For instance, he gave up Western clothing in favour of the simpler 'dhoti' to better fit in with the locals, he spent extended periods of time in jail, he eschewed ostentatious displays of wealth, and he was occasionally beaten.
The fact that Gandhi did not want to free India for his own benefit inspired great faith in him on the part of his supporters. His good intentions, excellent moral principles, and ethical standards earned him widespread acclaim. The film's commentator accurately observed that "the object of this huge homage died as he had always lived" during the funeral procession. A reclusive individual with no material possessions and no public position. Neither did Mahatma Gandhi lead armies nor govern over extensive territories. There was no scientific breakthrough or creative talent that he could flaunt. A small brown man in a loincloth liberated his nation, and yet men, governments, and dignitaries from all over the world have come together today to pay tribute to him
Gandhi had a great deal of faith in his own abilities and in the eventual success of his movement to achieve independence for India. He thought it was more of a question of "when" and "in what shape." His unwavering belief in their ability to free India inspired them to work together to achieve what had previously seemed unattainable.
Gandhi's foresight, inspiration, self-assurance, and optimistic outlook bolstered the people's collective efficacy and stoked a feeling that national solidarity was essential to India's eventual independence. Because of this shared conviction, his devotees were prepared to put in extra work and stay the course on the arduous path to liberation.
Gandhi was not an imposing figure as a leader. His public speaking and interpersonal abilities, despite his age, tiny stature, and frail build, made a significant impact on the general populace. He was, to put it simply, a crowd-puller. This spontaneous spread of emotional and behavioural reactions among the individuals is explained by the concept of social contagion, as described by Meindl (1990). There was a mental and physical readiness among Indians to make sacrifices for freedom. When the people's own existence was under danger, Gandhi sparked a sense of community among them. The movie depicts how, for instance, Gandhi visited Champaran in the midst of a social crisis to better understand the plight of the locals. Incredibly, Gandhi was arrested only for being in Champaran. Due of his popularity, riots broke out in the area and hundreds of onlookers packed the courtroom during his trial. Gandhi was able to exert pressure on the British without resorting to any dramatic measures. On the other hand, his supporters admired him greatly, and this admiration spread voluntarily across the population, exciting the entire country.
Gandhi had a "socialised power orientation" and was undeniably a positive charismatic. Yukl (2010) argues that Gandhi exemplifies the traits of a leader with a socialised power orientation, such as:
Capacity for restraint
driven by the desire to attain dominance in an ethical manner
higher in emotional maturity
Put your authority to good use for the sake of the community.
worried about the negative consequences of abusing one's position of authority
Less egocentric and guarded
Have less of an impact on the world's resources
Think in the long term
When it came to leadership, he pushed his followers to look inside rather than outside. He showed his dedication to the liberation fight by putting himself in harm's way and leading by example. 'You must be the change you wish to see in the world,' Gandhi said. In response to Gandhi's ideas and appeals, his supporters grew increasingly invested in their socially constructed charismatic leader.
According to Yukl (2010), the intense negative reaction by some people to charismatic leaders explains why they are often targets for assassination. This is because the affective reaction charismatic leaders arouse tends to polarise people into opposing camps of loyal supporters and hostile opponents. On January 30, 1948, Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse killed Mahatma Gandhi because, in his perspective, Gandhi was directly responsible for the partition of India and the deaths of tens of thousands of Hindus.
The Game-Changing Influence of Gandhi
Bass (1985) argues that transformational leaders are distinguished by a set of charismatic traits that include selflessness and the willingness to put the group's needs ahead of one's own. Gandhi's approach to leadership exemplifies the very definition of transformational management. His devotees were inspired by him, had faith in him, looked up to him, were faithful to him, and had high levels of respect for him. To inspire their followers, transformational leaders often use abstract concepts like freedom, justice, peace, and equality. Gandhi devoted his life to supporting and advancing such causes, and he battled tirelessly for them.
In order to win, Gandhi's followers had to put aside their differences and work together, which he inspired them to do via his transformative leadership. Hundreds of Gandhi's supporters voluntarily assembled at the "Dharasana Salt Works" and stood united while being thrashed with sticks by British officials. Thousands of Gandhi's followers went to jail, and some were beaten viciously as well. However, out of respect for Gandhi's feelings, they never used force. Dirks and Ferrin (2002) found that confidence in the leader is strongly connected with transformative leadership.
Bass (1985) identifies the following traits in leaders that inspire followers to make radical changes:
An idealized influence occurs when a leader's actions cause a strong emotional response and a sense of belonging in his or her followers. Because he was a man of his word and consistently put his beliefs into action, Gandhi was able to persuade many others to adopt his views. He set an example for the masses and earned their admiration and loyalty as a result. In his pursuit of India's freedom, he displayed exemplary behavior (his nonviolence), self-sacrifice (his voluntary poverty and non-materialism), determination, and tenacity.
Stimulates thought and encourages others to consider new angles on old problems; this behavior is intellectually stimulating. Gandhi constantly backed his devotees, urging them to engage in free inquiry, seek clarification, and find solutions. He was humble enough to admit wrongdoing and abandon a failed tactic without remorse. Some people employed violent measures, thus he scrapped the non-violent campaign despite criticism from his colleagues.
Person-Centered Care - This attitude and action includes being there for, and coaching, each of your followers individually. There was never a time when Gandhi didn't stand by his devotees. Specifically, he listened to the poor's complaints about how British policies had rendered them unable to earn a living. Other politicians, including Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel, benefited greatly from Gandhi's unwavering backing. Without ever making them feel reliant on him, he fostered them, encouraged them to share ideas, and gave them agency to make decisions.
Inspiring others to work toward a common goal by sharing a compelling vision and making strategic use of symbols is an example of inspirational leadership. In spite of criticism, Gandhi never wavered from his core beliefs and constantly spread word of his goal for freedom. He gave his supporters hope and renewed commitment by sharing his vision with them and symbolically representing it via events like the Salt Satyagraha.
A Leader on Par with Gandhi
According to Jim Collins (2005), a "Level 5 Leader" is characterized by a unique combination of self-aware modesty and strong professional resolve. A leader like Gandhi displayed certain hallmarks (Exhibit 2). He was a man of profound modesty who based his existence on the ideal of a modest lifestyle informed by lofty principles. He was clothed in the customary Indian dhoti and shawl, both of which were made from yarn spun by hand on a charkha. He was respectful and grateful, always making sure to express his appreciation. On the other hand, he never wavered in his determination to secure India's independence. He persisted in his quest for autonomy despite encountering many obstacles and disappointments along the way.
Member-Leader Interaction (LMX) Gandhi's connection with his subordinates, followers, and other leaders was described as one of intense interchange. There is a deep level of interdependence, loyalty, trust, respect, support, and affection because of the longevity of this connection.
Graen and Uhl-Bien (1995) found a favorable correlation between transformational leadership behaviors and strong leader-follower relationships. Similarly, Deluga (1992) showed that high-quality LMX was connected to charismatic leadership and personalization.
While Gandhi was the driving force behind the liberation movement, his dedicated staff and supporters did the heavy lifting on the ground. They had a high degree of initiative in carrying out the planning. Nehru, for instance, made advantage of his connections in the media to spread Gandhi's message.
It is also possible to say that Gandhi had a positive working relationship with his subordinates. Gandhi was very encouraging to his staff and often sought their input. The role he played with them was more akin to that of a mentor. Conversationally submissive, he often found himself needing to use considerable persuasion to sway Jinnah. As his staff's faith in Gandhi developed, they began acting in ways that demonstrated good corporate citizenship. Dirks and Ferrin (2002) back this up by arguing that trust in subordinates is strongly connected with a positive exchange relationship.
Strategies for Persuasion and Power Used by Gandhi
Gandhi embodied the quality of becoming an influential leader. Within the context of the film, "internalization" was Gandhi's primary method of persuasion.
According to Kelman (1958), the internalization process causes the target to get emotionally invested in the agent's suggestions because the target starts to see them as consistent with their own values, beliefs, and self-perception. Gandhi inspired the masses to oppose the British by appealing to their sense of independence, justice, and dignity.
Personal identifiers were revealed, at least implicitly. In order to get approval from and conform to the agent, the target under personal identification behaves and thinks like the agent (Kelman, 1958). At first, Jawaharlal Nehru appears in the film dressed in a western style. But after being inspired by Gandhi, he began dressing in Indian fabric (khadi) and adopted Gandhi's outlook. To show their support for Gandhi's suggestion that we should all wear khadi instead of English clothing, millions of Indians also boycotted English clothing.
Yukl (2010) defines power as the ability to persuade others to change their minds or actions. In the film, Gandhi's ability to employ referent power was portrayed. French and Raven (1959) argue that an agent's referent power stems from the fact that people want to show their approval of them. Gandhi's strong referent power stemmed from his affable, attractive, engaging, and trustworthy personality. He gained more support by addressing people's concerns, earning their trust and respect, and treating them with dignity and fairness. Furthermore, he was able to keep his referent power because of his high levels of personal integrity and constant principles.
Effective leaders depend more on referent power to influence subordinates since most power studies have revealed that it is positively connected with subordinate satisfaction and performance (Yukl, 2010). People are more inclined to follow the instructions of an agent who has high referent power, he adds. This helps to provide light on why Gandhi was so charismatic and successful as a leader.
M.K. Gandhi vs. M.A. Jinnah: A Look at Their Different Leadership Styles
On-screen, Gandhi, and Jinnah appear to be polar opposites in terms of personality, demeanor, way of life, and leadership.
Jinnah is depicted as living a luxurious life, reminiscent of the British in many respects. Gandhi had a very different existence. Although Jinnah was a popular figure, he was no match for Gandhi as a popular leader. As opposed to Gandhi's affable persona, Jinnah comes out as superior, haughty, intransigent, manipulative, and even caustic in some accounts.
Jinnah is a negative charisma in his approach to leadership. A "personalized power orientation" characterizes destructive charismatics.
Jinnah's philosophy shifted from supporting Indian independence to favoring Pakistan as he rose to power, as depicted in the film. Later in life, he pushed for the establishment of Pakistan as an independent Muslim nation. His worries were genuine, but he was exaggerating them. Jinnah remained defiant despite Gandhi's best efforts at persuasion and reasoning. Finally, when Gandhi assured him he could become India's first prime minister and pick his own government, he appeared satisfied. Thus, Jinnah appears to have cared more about promoting his own reputation and keeping his position of power. Gandhi, on the other hand, never sought power, as evidenced by the fact that he never even had a formal title or position of authority in his life.
Many people have looked up to Gandhi and found inspiration in his life and teachings. Many people look up to him because he takes an uncommon approach to fighting injustice by using truth, nonviolence, non-cooperation, and nonviolent resistance. He courageously fought for India's freedom and inspired millions of others to join the cause. His life exemplified the power of moral behavior, and he demonstrated it to the world. As he laid the groundwork for democracy in India, he demonstrated the power of compassion and solidarity in the face of adversity. There will probably never be another leader like Gandhi, yet he left invaluable lessons for mankind.
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