“Leaders are good Listener. They can hear even which is not yet uttered.
Opening Case Study :
Baba Amte –An Empathetic Leader
MurlidharDevidasAmte, best known as Baba Amte, was born on the 26th of December 1914 into a wealthy family in Hinganghat. His father worked for the British government in revenue collection and administration within the district and the children grew up in a privileged world. Despite his fortunate position, Amte never conformed to the caste expectations, playing with the children of the servants and not allowing the rules of who he could interact with to impact his behaviour.
After school Amte trained in law and grew a successful practice in Wardha that included representing underprivileged groups. Around this time his political feelings also started to emerge, joining the struggle for freedom from the British Raj and using his profession to defend leaders of the freedom movement from British authorities. Amte also spent time with Gandhi, getting to know the leader and becoming an avid follower of Gandhism for the remainder of this life.
With his wife Sadhana Tai, who also came from a wealthy background, he renounced his money and set up a small community in Warora where the couple lived with untouchables and low caste people. One of the cases that Amte took on was to represent the sweepers’ union in a ﬁght over salaries with the local municipality. Sweepers are a caste in India whose job is to clear the human waste that builds up overnight and to dispose of it. In order to understand his clients, Amte worked with them for several weeks, a role that meant carrying baskets of excrement on his head.
It was during this period of the 1940s that perhaps his greatest legacy began. One night when he was walking home from work Amte came across an emanciated man on the side of the road. The man, Tulshiram, had a very serious case of leprosy and was dying from the untreated wounds. Amte reacted by running away. At this time in history there was still no cure but the fear that he felt haunted Amte. However rational a reaction, he couldn’t sleep that night thinking about how he had responded. The next morning he went back and built a shelter for Tulshiram, nursing him for several days until he died. Amte recalled this moment as when he found his true calling.
Tai and Amte decided to dedicate their life to working with people with leprosy. Amte travelled to Kolkata and talked his way into the basic training given to doctors about treatment (though at this point it was only treatment of wounds not the disease itself). While there, he offered himself up as a guinea pig. Leprosy only impacts humans, and as such animal research to learn about the disease wasn’t possible. Amte was injected with the bacteria but it didn’t take, science would later learn that not everyone is susceptible but at the time Amte was exposing himself to huge risk.
Returning to Warora the pair initially began a mobile clinic but soon realised the needs of the population went far beyond wound treatment. In Indian society these people were outcasts at the brunt of society’s attitude towards them. The government granted them a plot of land and there they, along with their children and the ﬁrst six leprosy patients, started Anandwan, a community for those with leprosy, the marginalised, and the disabled. Starting as a hospital the grounds now include a huge infrastructure including a college, school for the blind and deaf, an orphanage, farmland, an old people’s home and factories. It is a self sufﬁcient community where individuals can come to live and work in return getting housing and food. Amte and Tai’s vision was of not simply helping but empowering people.
Today his sons continue to run the various operations Amte started. He died at 93 on the 9th of February 2008 in Anandwan..Baba Amte was a kind activist whose leadership has left a staggering legacy that continues to help and inspire people across India and beyond.
Great leaders intuitively know how to listen. They use empathy and mindfulness to be present during every interaction. Their focus and commitment to the goal let them shelve their egos and receive feedback with grace, inspiring innovation at every level. People who are seen as “born leaders” don’t judge others but learn and grow from what they hear.
Active listening is a critical part of being a successful leader. The FBI explains that “active listening involves six skills—paying attention, holding judgment, reﬂecting, clarifying, summarizing, and sharing.” Better understanding helps leaders communicate well and make good decisions. While listening and absorbing non-verbal communication, you learn so much more. If while someone is speaking your attention wanders, you miss valuable information.
The most inﬂuential leaders in history share two traits: conﬁdence and integrity. They do not need to be the center of attention. They often speak less and listen more. Some of them speak very little and when they do they talk slowly and deliberately, measuring every word. Personal integrity comes from a place of innate conﬁdence and the desire to be your best even when no one else is watching. Good leaders possess strong integrity.
5 Tips for developing good understanding & Empathy:
- Leaders must be good listener: Listening is the most important skill a leader can master. It is the basis of so many other skills and traits that make up a leader. However, it is a tough skill to master as it requires us to be more present, attentive, engaged, open and ﬂexible.
- Leaders must be Emotionally Intelligent: To be effective, leaders must have a solid understanding of how their emotions and actions affect the people around them. The better a leader relates to and works with others, the more successful he or she will be. Take the time to work on self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.
- Leaders must effectively communicate: Strong communication skills are a must for any leader, whether they are needed to manage employees, voice expectations and assign tasks, or to convince potential investors or partners to back an organization. A great leader must be able to properly communicate their thoughts and inspire people — to the point where the success and growth of their business hinges in large part on their communication skills.
4. Leaders must invest his time and resources for development of his team: Most leaders can agree that employee development is a critical part of creating a lasting business. If you’re not investing in your people, you’re not investing in the future of your business. Investing in your team is an important part of creating an engaged workforce and an effective way of reducing turnover for your business.
5. Leader must develop personal relationship with each individual: To be successful today, leaders must develop relationships based on openness and trust. Leaders can no longer rely on formal hierarchical structures and processes. Instead, the new era of leadership is based on service, on teamwork, and even on humility.
Leadership is not a science but an art that you can learn to emulate. All you need to do is cultivate your listening and empathy skills and then start to motivate and inspire people to greatness.