Silent Leader Series Mystery Leader: Mahatma Gandhi


He needs no introduction. Albert Einstein once said:

Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood.

Growing up, I was intrigued by quotes that I saw; stories that I heard; I learnt very quickly that Mahatma Gandhi brought a whole nation to its knees and his methodology: peace, love, persistence, passiveness. Why was I so intrigued? Most of my school history books boasted about winning wars, strategies, fighter planes, conflict… it all felt painful, distressing, and very unnatural. Yet, somehow, to change people’s hearts through peace, love, integrity…. now THAT was worth studying!

Gandhi was a person of such simple presence that inspired millions to change in the most profound way. I consider him the father of silent leaders because of the shear capacity of his influence and achievements, intended or not. His words were filled with messages of peace, reconciliation, respecting others and loving our “enemies”, and yet, he was simply an ordinary man with great ideas.

Why I consider him a “Silent Leader”

In this series, silence does not mean to remain silent. Silence is something that comes from your heart. It means you are at peace with all inside and outside. You have found the path to your self and the light to let it shine. In essence, silence is the catalyst to your inner voice - your purpose. Self Leadership is what it takes to drive this and that is a fundamental difference between Self Leadership, and Silent Leadership. Silence is like the roots of a giant tree. If you know how to access the roots, the tree can flourish. Gandhi knew his life purpose and he saw it through, relentlessly. He united a nation using non-violence and peace in a country that had multiple diverse nationalities, injustices and was ruled by an outsider nation. He look at everyone as equals. A Silent Leader does not put his/her own interests in front of humanity and others.

Gandhi was also a charismatic person who able to influence people by setting an example of how to stand up for what they believed in. He became the cause itself, and therefore was able to demonstrate his authenticity for others to believe in. As a silent leader, authenticity is extremely important. Even Gandhi said to do things out of love, otherwise don’t do them at all. If you don’t believe in yourself and in your cause, your efforts will be false at one time or another.

Gandhi must have been very high in self awareness. He said,

“Everyone who wills can hear the inner voice. It is within everyone.”

And this is what shines the most in Gandhi to understand that silent leadership is 18 inches from your head to your heart.

Like many Silent Leaders, he truly believed in his mission and did not let anyone or anything stand in his way no matter what the risks were. In doing so, he did not use violence, but passiveness, peace.

In the 80’s version of the movie, during his funeral procession, the commentator states:

“The object of this massive tribute died as he had always lived. A private man without wealth, without property, without official title or office. Mahatma Gandhi was not the commander of armies, nor a ruler of vast lands. He could not boast of any scientific achievement or artistic gift. Yet men, governments, dignitaries from all over the world have joined hands today to pay homage to this little brown man in the loincloth who led his country to freedom”.

In the office?

Gandhi epitomizes silent leadership from the heart. Emotions are contagious (whether optimistic or pessimistic). Having a high self-awareness that during difficult, challenging and uncertain times, it is vital to keep a positive outlook. He also encourages something we see scarcely in the office: leaders who encourage a sense of hope, pride and clarity in a collective vision. In other words, leaders should have the ability to bring out the best in others.

Gandhi was without a doubt a complex person, believing in simple things. He is Silent Leader Number 1 in this series.

Gabriele Ciminelli