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Lessons in leadership

education Updated: Apr 30, 2014 10:13 IST
HT Education Correspondent
Anoop Prakash

Ashoka University recently organised a workshop titled ‘Authentic leadership, a master class for young leaders’ wherein students were exposed to a number of lectures and interesting sessions. The event, held at the India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, on April 20, started off with some trust-building activities aimed at students, and exercises to improve listening. This was headed by Pramath Sinha, founder and trustee, Ashoka University, and founding dean, Indian School of Business.

This was followed by a discussion on dharma – the idea of ‘doing the right thing’ – in the Mahabharat, for Ram, Draupadi and Arjuna among others. The discussion was led by Gurucharan Das, author of India Unbound and The Difficulty of Being Good, and former managing director, worldwide (strategic planning), Proctor & Gamble. In the session, Das illustrated how the imperatives of duty and morality are never straightforward.

During the afternoon session, Pramath Sinha engaged students in basic mathematical and critical thinking excercises, to demonstrate the multitude of answers that can arise out of one question, all of which are correct and depend upon the perspective one takes to answer the question. He then lectured the students on famous leaders, whose uncompromising convictions and style were often what made them successful and extraordinary in some areas. Winston Churchill was discussed here.

Anoop Prakash, MD, Harley Davidson India, spoke about the value of his liberal arts education at Stanford; that through the liberal arts method of teaching, ‘your mind will open up’ and you will learn to appreciate diversity. He spoke of the lessons he learned in the US military, and said that the keys to leadership are humility, individualisation – your own distinct ways of thinking, and the ability to make tough decisions amidst chaos and multiple agendas. He emphasised that a leader’s role, among other things, is to empower people to be open-minded and morally consistent.