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Buddhism is a religion, a series of practices and a way of life based on the teachings of the Buddha who, after achieving enlightenment, taught that the nature of the world is constant change. Buddha taught that everything in the world is not permanent and that it is the failure to understand this true nature of life on Earth that leads to much of our unhappiness, suffering and trouble. Buddhism is a way to correct our view, conduct and expectations of life in order that we can bring an end to suffering and share in the happiness, wisdom, peace and Nirvana that Buddha himself discovered after following the paths of the lessons he has since laid down as the foundations of Buddhism. The Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism can be used as a model and be further tested to provide inputs to organizations to identify and train managers in the eight paths for being effective leaders, thereby developing a positive and rewarding work relationship in the organization.
Introduction
During the late 6th and early 5th centuries BCE, Siddhartha Gautama of Shakya, who later became known as the Buddha, was born in modern-day Nepal near the Indian border. While there are several mythical stories surrounding his conception and birth, the basic facts of his life are generally agreed upon. Born into a wealthy royal family, the Buddha was born and raised in worldly luxury. Despite his father’s attempts to shield him from the ugliness of life, one day he ventured out beyond the castle walls and encountered three aspects of life: the old, the sick and the dead. Each of these experiences troubled him and made him question the meaning and transience of life and its pleasures. It was during his time practicing extreme forms of self-denial that Buddha discovered the “Middle Path” of moderation — an idea that closely resembles Aristotle’s “Golden Mean.”
The Four Noble Truths & The Eightfold Path to Happiness
Buddha taught his followers the Four Noble Truths as follows:
1. Life is/means Dukkha (mental dysfunction or suffering).
2. Dukkha arises from craving.
3. Dukkha can be eliminated.
4. The way to the elimination of dukkha is the Eightfold Path.
Buddha believed that dukkha ultimately arose from ignorance and false knowledge. While dukkha is usually defined as suffering, “mental dysfunction” is closer to the original meaning. In a similar vein, Huston Smith explains dukkha by using the metaphor of a shopping cart that we “try to steer from the wrong end” or bones that have gone “out of joint” (Smith, 1991, p. 101). Because of such a mental misalignment, all movement, thoughts and creation that flow out can never be wholly satisfactory. In short, we can never be completely happy.
The Eightfold Path
“This is the noble eightfold way, namely, right understanding, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right attention, right concentration, and right meditation.” — Shakyamuni Buddha at Deerpark.The Eightfold Path, or path as it’s called, is a guide for areas to explore and practice. (Nourie, 2013). The Eight fold Path of Buddhism can be divided into three groups. These three groups represent three stages of training: the training
Right View in the higher moral discipline, the training in the higher consciousness, and the training in the higher wisdom. (Bodhi, 1994).
The concept of Right View is about the awareness of what is true and right. Vision is the beacon light for an organization as it serves as “a signpost pointing the way for all who need to understand what the organization is and where it intends to go” (Nanus, 1992). It has afuture orientation, hence, only a leader in true sense of the term can visualize the prospects of new policies or practices and also “how whole new sets of expectations, relationships, accountability structures, etc., would fit together into a coherent whole” (Seeley, 1992). “Vision comes alive only when it is shared” (Westley and Mintzberg, 1989).
Right Intention
The leader must have right intention which can only be possible through managing of his emotions. He must have the right balance of rational and emotive feelings when initiating an action. Awareness of one’s intentions and managing them positively is crucial. It takes practice! Researchers generally describe emotional intelligence as the sum total of a person’s mind capabilities that enable him/her to understand one’s own and others’ emotions correctly, in real time, and to manage these emotions rationally so as to produce personally and socially desirable transactional outcomes (Goleman et al., 2001; Kunnanatt, 2004; Salovey and Grewal, 2005; Zeidner et al., 2008).
Right Speech
Literature on leadership research has shown that leaders can significantly influence individual, group, and organizational performance (Gerstner and Day, 1997; Judge et al., 2004; Lowe et al., 1996). As per a Harvard Business School study on factors it takes to achieve success and be promoted in an organization, the individual who gets ahead in business is the person who “is able to communicate, to make sound decisions, and to get things done with and through people” (Bowman et al., 1964). Leadership communication consists of three primary rings (1) core, (2) managerial, and (3) corporate Communication strategies are included in the core, and managers need to use it effectively for leadership communication. (Arsovski.and Nikezi?, 2012). Speech must be clear, accurate and concise to avoid ambiguity. It must have the power to motivate even the dead. The relationship between leader’s verbal skills and outcomes is clearly embodied within the motivating language model (Sullivan, 1988).
Right Livelihood
The Buddha teaches that wealth should be gained in accordance with certain standards like it should be acquired only by legal means, it should be acquired peacefully; without coercion or violence; one should acquire it honestly, not by trickery or deceit; and one should acquire it in ways which do not entail harm and suffering for others. Lewicki et al. (2001) found that ethical behavior of supervisors wither positively or negatively affect the ethical climate for workers. Robertson & Anderson (1993) too found in their study that leaders create a climate that influences the ethical decisions of the followers. (Becker 2003). A leader following right livelihood should not only be ethical, but needs to treat people fairly, should also demonstrate respect for other’s values, appreciates the individuals contributions and engages in reflective practice. Yukl (2006) stated that effective leadership means mobilizing and influencing followers in the required direction. A leader must have the right understanding of whether his actions will affect him or the others positively or negatively (Rooke.and Torbert, 2005) The Buddha says that right effort helps the way one can transform the whole structure of their lives. Leadership Member Exchange Theory also highlights that leaders develop different types of exchange relationship with the followers (Gerstner and Day, 1997; Liden et al., 1997; Sparrowe and Liden, 1997). A relationship based domain of Leadership is highly important for effective management. It takes into consideration the Right Effort. It is characterized by high levels of trust, interaction, support and formal and informal rewards (Dienesch and Liden, 1986).

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