Article: Leadership lessons to be learned from Atal Bihari Vajpayee


Leadership lessons to be learned from Atal Bihari Vajpayee

There are many leaders the world has produced but very few have earned respect even from their critics. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was one of them.
Leadership lessons to be learned from Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, undoubtedly one of the most prominent leaders of our country took his last breath on August 16th, 2018. The former Prime Minister wore many hats such as politician, poet, writer, social worker and many more. 

There are many leaders the world has produced but very few received respect from their critics, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee was one of them. 

What makes him a great leader is that he never crossed his line despite being the Prime Minister or leader of the opposition.  He called the former Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru as the ‘son’ of India and termed Ex-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as the goddess ‘Durga.’ He praised his opponents Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh for his work, which highlights the quality of a true leader. 

Sharing about his leadership qualities, Sumitra Mahajan, Lok Sabha Speaker, said, “Atal ji was like a star in the sky of politics, which shone brighter than everyone else. He had the unique ability to bring everyone together. Even if you ask the opposition, they hold a sense of respect for him.”

Calm & Composed

Audience and opposition were always keen to hear his speeches and when he was one of the best orators of his time. But, what makes his a great orator, notably he was a great listener too. He had his ears to the ground. He listened to all voices and opinions. He always put the country above himself and his party.

Being calm was another quality that he possessed, and his calmness lead to many successful decisions. It’s widely remembered that during the Pokhran test it was Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who kept his nerve and successfully led the test without knowing anyone else. 

Journalist Liz Mathew, in her latest column about the former Prime Minister, wrote, “Vajpayee was one of those rarest of rare politicians who would exude warmth. You get angry at him, his policies, the position of his party – but the moment you stand before him, it melts away. He was so charming that you never feel anything bad about him. The numerous tales, journalists who used to cover BJP, share tell you about the amazing capacity he had to charm anyone. Be it Opposition leaders or be it hostile journalists.”

Writing further she adds another incident, I have also seen how calmly he handled an angry Sonia Gandhi, who was the Opposition leader then. It was one of those days, where the Bofors and the allegations against the Gandhi family had resurfaced, and the treasury benches created pandemonium over the issue in the Lok Sabha. The house was adjourned. But Sonia Gandhi remained seated there, red-faced. As the members started walking out, she started fuming and shouting “how long you would keep raising this against me and family? Why are you not able to find anything? You keep raising it to humiliate my late husband.” A shocked Mahajan ran to Sonia Gandhi to calm her down. Vajpayee kept watching for a few minutes and went to her and said something. Gandhi, still angry, but picked her bag and walked out. Vajpayee was seen discussing something intensely with Mahajan then.

Leader of Leaders 

Vajpayee was unique as a leader. Perhaps, BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya was right today when he said: “There is no one like Vajpayee and there will be no one like him.”

Not only political leaders but India’s ace entrepreneurs also took leadership lessons from the former Prime Minister, on his demise, Ratan Tata said, “He was a great leader with a great sense of compassion and humour. He will be remembered fondly by a vast number of us".

Talking about Vajpayee’s leadership, Executive Chairman of Mahindra Group, Anand Mahindra said, “The leadership lesson that I learned from my interactions with him was that no matter how significant your achievements while in office, you ultimately earn the affection of people through your humanity and your humility.”

Due to Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s leadership, India and Pakistan had good relations despite the Kargil War. The famous line from the ex-Prime Minister is widely remembered when he said, “You can change friends but not neighbors.”




Image source : Are

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Topics: Leadership, #Corporate

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