by beCause Global Associate Ravi Chaudhry, CEO CeNext Consulting, author of Quest for Exceptional Leadership: Mirage to Reality , former Chair / CEO of four Tata Group companies – People all over the world wonder why there are so few good leaders who command trust and deliver results. Has the quality of leadership declined or have we become more demanding? Most likely, a bit of both.

Those taking on the mantle of leadership in society and business today need to acknowledge that we are moving on to a new phase of human enterprise, driven by increased demand for social consciousness and the need to function in sync with society and environment. Several potent forces are accelerating this process, stemming from the rise of ‘knowledge-based civil society’ and ‘predominance of youth in demographics’, based on the premise that “another world is possible”.

Leaders who accept this new ‘realism’ will emerge as winners in the 21st century provided they can acquire a few new leadership traits.

Till now, the Base Camp Leadership Traits ensured success. These comprised traits relating to strengths within (i.e. physical traits such as energy and drive, basic intelligence, and professional will) and traits relating to interface with outside world (i.e. mind-traits such as pragmatic vision, transactional skills, and perseverance).

In today’s demandingly complex world, I envisage the need for a new set of traits, beyond the physical traits and the mind-traits. These are the traits of conscience: pertaining to the heart of the leader.

These do not call upon us to change our hearts. They only require us to discover our hearts. These are the traits of Wholeness, Compassion and Transparency.

Of these, wholeness is the transformational trait. Typically, a leader’s view is taken from the perceiver’s vantage, with reference to her mind and processed in her intellect. A complete 360-degree view is difficult, and yet only half the job.

Each of our decisions and actions has an impact on others – directly or indirectly. The ‘whole wholeness’ comes when we take an additional 360-degree view, as perceived by others, with reference to their minds and as processed in their thoughts. Wholeness is a 720-degree view

A 360-degree view excludes; a 720-degree view includes those who are excluded. A 720-view is the only yardstick of ‘inclusive development’, global leaders talk about.

The seeds of these traits already exist in most leaders. It is the nature of seeds to grow. If we are aware of these seeds and let the seeds within us blossom, every leader can acquire these. It is for us, the citizens, not to let down our guard and continue to seek exceptional leadership. If we persist, I foresee this happening, quite soon.


Ravi Chaudhry delivered these remarks when he was conferred Ambassador of Knowledge Award last month by Slovenia- based Life Learning Academia. They then published it in their house journal, The Power of Knowledge.

{ 23 comments… add one }

  • Nadine B Hack August 18, 2015, 8:57 am

    Ravi – I love your concept that leaders must have “traits of the conscience” including “wholeness, compassion and transparency” and I hope we can help more leaders understand why this is needed.

  • Cortney August 18, 2015, 10:23 am

    Ravi – Yes, it is time to dis-cover our hearts. The “traits of conscience” you outline–most notably, recognizing and embracing our wholeness–are indeed essential to this next generation of leaders. Thank you very much for sharing your insight and wisdom.

  • Ravi Chaudhry August 18, 2015, 10:26 am

    Dear Nadine
    Many thanks for the kind comments. I feel elevated that we share a compelling vision of the future and I look forward to our pursuing this journey together. In my various conversations, I always emphasize that business and societal leaders cannot brush away the new traits as mere philanthropic talk. The only choice is: accept the new reality willingly, or grudgingly – but then it may be too late for them.

    There is enough evidence that when leaders accept the new ‘reality’ and pursue this path, they discover a pleasant surprise; they experience a “triple top line of joy, peace and contentment”. Not only for them, but also in the personal lives of people all around.


  • Cortney August 18, 2015, 10:35 am

    “triple top line of joy, peace and contentment”
    LOVE that too…
    Thanks again, Ravi!

  • Ravi Chaudhry August 18, 2015, 11:08 am

    I deeply appreciate your feedback and particularly your sharp reference to the next generation of leaders. While we may encounter difficulties in de-corrupting today’s leaders, I am quite confident that there is a strong movement under way to make the next generation of leaders incorruptible. Towards that goal, may I also applaud your wonderful work!

  • Cortney August 18, 2015, 11:48 am

    Thank you, Ravi!
    All Best,

  • Barbara Brooks Kimmel August 18, 2015, 2:24 pm

    Thank you Ravi! As I was reading your article, Indra Nooyi’s leadership was the first North American one to come to mind. I think the greatest challenge to what you describe, lies with Boards of Directors whose focus continues to be on the short-term, and therein lies the rub. It is incompatible with what you describe.

    Barbara Brooks Kimmel, Executive Director, Trust Across America-Trust Around the World

    • Ravi Chaudhry August 18, 2015, 4:14 pm

      Barbara, you are absolutely right. Lots of corporate ills are attributed to Boards’ alleged focus on short-term results.

      Notwithstanding that, our rationale is that the leadership traits of conscience do not imply that the Boards are supposed to sacrifice short-term profits. It is aimed more at re-igniting the DNA of corporate character. Of course, companies must make profits; the new traits of exceptional leadership are meant to ensure they achieve profits with conscience, growth with equity and compatibility with nature. Companies that follow this path have always improved long-term results, and often short-term profits, too.

      The onus for changing this trajectory lies primarily with corporate CEOs. They understand the new power of the vigilant consumers, the aspirational youth and the risks emanating from the ‘end of privacy’. Leadership is now a ‘public-domain’ affair. No Board will hereafter have the courage to overrule a corporate CEO, who is an “Exceptional Leader.” I am well aware that you are working on the same mission. Let us all synergize our efforts.

  • Peter Cook (@AcademyOfRock) August 18, 2015, 4:07 pm

    Dear Ravi,

    I enjoyed talking with you and this article helps further with the understanding of your 720 degree approach. I concur that we are increasingly connected by our actions and that requires each of us to act in a “wholistic” manner.

    As an aside I spent some time working in India many years ago and fell in love with its contrasts. I look forward to conducting an interview for beCause once we have sorted out the “tech” :-)

    Good wishes


  • Ravi Chaudhry August 18, 2015, 4:22 pm

    Dear Peter
    Coming from you, these words mean a lot to me.
    I am as keenly looking forward to a greater interaction in the coming weeks, and hopefully spot the elusive unity that co-exists with contrasts.
    All the best —————— Ravi

  • Bimal Bist August 18, 2015, 5:52 pm

    Dear Ravi
    Thanks a lot for your nice thought on leaders; Transparency leader… in the context of southern hemisphere the leaders should have [sustainable] Transparent heart that would be followed by new generations too!

    Best wishes

    • Nadine B Hack August 18, 2015, 5:57 pm

      Bimal / Kathmandu – I believe Ravi would agree with me that in any context – north or south – leaders must adopt more transparency. – Nadine B. Hack, CEO beCause Global Consulting

      • Ravi Chaudhry August 18, 2015, 6:53 pm

        I agree, Bimal, we need transparent leaders. And as Nadine has aptly highlighted, we need them everywhere.

        I must however mention that the trait of transparency is a natural consequence of the traits of wholeness and compassion. If you do not practice the other two traits, and try to cultivate only transparency, it is more likely to be a contrived transparency.

        Also, many leaders take pride in being selectively transparent. That also does not work. Either you are transparent to all, or else your transparency level is nil. There is no in-between.

        • Gopalan Nair August 19, 2015, 4:25 am

          I am in agreement with the contents and your thoughts and this article is relevant and applicable anywhere. As more and more people are becoming aware of all the happenings at home and abroad as a knowledge-based society, their demands and expectations are increasing and this will lead to more transparency & good governance and progress for all. Big businesses need to curtail their greed, failing which they will eventually be exposed and be out of business. I am from Malaysia.

          • Ravi Chaudhry August 19, 2015, 9:45 am

            I concur with your crisp comment, summing up the key issue, while re-kindling hope.
            In that context, may I add that the problem in our world today is not as much the greed of a few, but the silence of the good. The good people comprise the majority in the world and they are aware how to get their voices heard. It is a matter of time – a small window of time for corporate leaders to transform themselves voluntarily. It is our role to spread this message. Many thanks for your support.

  • Stephanie Moles Rota August 18, 2015, 8:29 pm

    Very inspiring Ravi and so true, many leaders will struggle in the balancing act of short term shareholders pressure and long term quest for wholeness, compassion and transparency. I hope Nadine can introduce to my friend Harjit Gill former CEO of Philips Asia and one of the closest thing to exceptional leadership I have met so far.

  • Ravi Chaudhry August 19, 2015, 9:59 am

    I am touched by your kind comment. Many thanks. In every country, in every industry, we have identified ‘Exceptional Leaders” who walk this path, and succeed, and prevail. The myth that integrity and values tend to lower corporate profits is already blown up. It is the personal greed of those at the top that encourages status-quo and stands in the way of tangible transformation. Thankfully, the societal demands are moving in the right direction.

  • Rajesh Kochhar August 27, 2015, 8:31 am

    Dear Ravi,

    Its refreshing to read your article on the need for new traits of conscience for leaders in an ever changing world. Over the recent years leadership has been narrowed down to quarterly results which has made vision become myopic. There is a strong need to reverse this process by combining short term goals with long term impact of decision making. This would exemplify exceptional leaders.

  • Ravi Chaudhry August 27, 2015, 9:02 am

    Thanks, Rajesh, for putting it across so crisply and so effectively. I fully concur with you.

    The need to produce short-term results naturally leads to a blinkered approach that can never factor in issues relating to environment, social responsibility or even a sense of moral values. We all need to join the movement that promotes an equitable balance between the short-term and the long-term perspectives and generate an ever-increasing support for this approach. It is time citizens and shareholders realize that it is also in their interest to fast-track this transformation.

  • Dilip Shah August 27, 2015, 11:47 am

    Ravi, I am impressed, almost taken over, by your 720 vision. Wholeness, Compassion and Transparency would be the driving force for the businesses of the 21st century. In fact, together they will spell success. Their absence will mean myopic short run business. Transformational changes are required in management attitude and outlook.

  • Ravi Chaudhry August 27, 2015, 12:05 pm

    Dilip bhai
    Your endorsement of this concept provides a great fillip to our commitment to spread this message as widely and as deeply as possible. It is a privilege to receive your support.

  • Toine van Megen August 27, 2015, 3:04 pm

    Dear Ravi, Thank you for sharing these deep insights. Wholeness, Compassion and Transparency are indeed the traits of which seeds are in each one of us. If we open up and connect with the light within, these seeds will grow and manifest in the leadership that is needed now and in the future. – Toine van Megen, Auroville

  • Ravi Chaudhry August 27, 2015, 6:55 pm

    A brilliant insight, Dear Toine.
    Many thanks for highlighting the eternal presence of light within each one of us, and how easy it can be to let that light shine, and show us the path to reach the summit of exceptional leadership. That is the only light that can lead us there!. May each of us develop a deep-felt longing within, to discover our own light, our own strengths!


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