Leadership for Lawyer Mahatma Gandhi

Leadershipfor Lawyer Mahatma Gandhi

Leadershipfor Lawyer Mahatma Gandhi

Theposition of leadership in the current society is indispensable.Leadership has been particularly lauded as one of the pivotalcatalysts of success in all areas of social and economic development,particularly in the backdrop of the growing call for sustainablepractices. The increasing importance of governance follows from thechange in perspectives orchestrated by the view that society facesvarious sustainability challenges that can only be amelioratedthrough informed administration.

Leadershipis conceived as a process or action of influencing people to achievethe intended goals. Ideally, leaders achieve this effect throughsetting the vision for the followers, motivating and guiding themthrough working processes and building morale. The process of settinga clear understanding implies getting the followers to understand andaccept the goals underpinning a process. Building morale entailsseeking to comprehend the needs of the followers and addressing themthrough facilitation and recognizing their efforts. Guiding iscrucial because it sets out the path that should be undertaken byteam members to realize success. An exemplary leader does not onlyprovide resources, but also chats the way to assist the supporterstorealize the objectives.

Law,like other professional fields, relies on exemplary leadership todeliver its goals. Exemplary superiors are needed to influence otherstowards success. It is usually argued that each lawyer has aresponsibility and an opportunity to exerciseanofficial role ineither his or her profession or any other professions.

Historyprovides various examples of figures with exemplarygovernance skillsthat contemporary leaders may borrow a leaf. Mahatma Gandhi is one ofthe lawyers who excelled as leader and a lawyer by exhibitingdesirable skills through setting the vision for the followers,motivating and guiding them through working processes and buildingmorale

Thepurpose of this paper is to explore the leadership attributes oflawyer Mahatma Gandhi. The exploration will focus on his background,accomplishment, and his training as one of the strong points thatbring him out as an exemplary leader.

Lifeand contributions of Mahatma Gandhi

MahatmaGandhi was born to a Hindu family in Porbandar, located KathiawarPeninsula, which was also the state of the Indian Empire in the year1869. His father, Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi was a chief of thePorbandar state. At the time of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth, massiveadministrative changes were taking place. British authorities wereestablishing authority over the Indian nation. Those who resisted thecolonial rule were executed, while the traditional, rulers andreligious leaders were demoted (Rajini,2013).

MahatmaGandhi’s father was also a victim of the political developments,and he decided to leave Porbandar in 1874 to settle in a small stateof Rajkot, where he was recognized and made a chancellor of thecommunity. His family joined him later in Rajkot when he was promotedto become the chief of the state. He served the position until hisretirement, leaving the position to his brother. KaramchandUttamchand Gandhi had three wives, of which Putlibai, the Mahatmasmother, was the third wife. Mahatma was the last born to the familyof three children (Radhakrishnan,2015).

MahatmaGandhi began his academic journey at a primary school in Porbandarbefore moving to a local district school in Rajkot in 1879, where hisfather had now settled.However, in 1892, his studies were disrupted by his father’sdeteriorating health conditions, causing him to spend more time athome to nurse him. This action caused him apooracademic performanceat school. Despite the learning hardships, Mahatma Gandhi’s schoolexperience exposed him to the diversity of the world where he met newfriends from other castes and religions, including the Persis and theMuslims (Hardiman,2011).MahatmaGandhi got married at the age of 13 years to Kasturbai MakhanjiKapadia, a 14-year-old in the year 1883, which was an early-arrangedmarriage by the Indian culture. In the process, he lost a year inschool. He would later face adverse life challenges in the subsequentyear when he lost his father, as well as his first child.

Themoment was so stressing that Mahatma though the only way to overcomethe troubling thoughts was to return to school. He proceeded with hisacademics where he sat for his matriculation examination in 1887, andlater enrolled at Samaldas College, an institution of highereducation in Bhavnagar State. Nevertheless, it was not long before hedropped out because of homesickness, causing him to return toPorbandar, where he felt would find solace (Radhakrishnan, 2015).Despite dropping out of school at an early age, Mahatma Gandhi wasthe highest education achiever of the three siblings, and his family,and was considered as the potential replacement of his uncle who wasabout to retire (Rajini, 2013).

However,at that point, Mahatma Gandhi felt he did not have the full knowledgeand experience to take the role as chief. A family friend advised himand his family to go abroad in London in order to advance hiseducation by studying as a barrister to increase the capacity toserve in the beckoning position. While Mahatma Gandhi showedawillingness to travel to London to further his studies, his motherand uncle opposed to it.

Itwas only after further deliberations that his mother relented andallowed him to take the step of traveling to London. However, it wasnot only his family members that were opposed to moving to London,but also kinsmen. In fact, when he was leaving Porbandar to Mumbai totake a flight to London, some elders in the community trailed him tothe airport to prevent him from leaving for London, reasoning that hewould be disobeying the community norms and that he would be declaredas an outcast for that reason. He declined and made a choice ofaction that caused him to be declared as an outcast. At the time ofhis journey, he had four sons that he left behind with the rest ofthe family (Bhatt,2012).

InLondon, he studied law and jurisprudence before he later enrolled atthe temple with the aim of becoming a barrister. He adopted someEnglish customs, for example, dancing but retained most of the Hinduvalues. He returned to India in 1891. Upon arrival, Mahatma learnedthat his mother had long diedwhile he was in London. He quicklyaccepted the demise and moved to practice law in Bombay, the India’scapital. However, he did not succeed because of ideologicaldifferences he had with the colonial administration. It was not longbefore Dada Abdulla Company, an Indian firm, offered him along-termcontract to work in South Africa, which was also under theBritish rule (Hardiman,2011).

Theaccount of Mahatma’s childhood presents him to have had aninteresting character. For instance, Putlibai,the mother, described him to be particularly playful and restless inhis childhood days. She had played a crucial role in grooming andshaping his mannerism at childhood, especially based on the customsof the Indian traditions, teaching him Shravan and Harishchandra.Even Mahatma himself affirmed the essential values such as truth andlove that he learned from his early life, including the influence hisparents, has a significant impact on what he became as an adult(Chakrabarty,2012).

Besides,at school, Mahatma Gandhi did not show any particular brilliance,neither was he actively involved in games nor was he social.Moreover, he read little beyond textbooks, but reserved respect forhis teacher and demonstrated a high level of honesty in classexaminations. He loved English, arithmetic, history, and geography(Chakrabarty,2012).


Itis indisputable that Mahatma Gandhi’s background played a crucialrole in the development of his leadership qualities. The position ofhis father as the prime minister and his uncle as the chief of thesmall state in India gave him the opportunity to develop a keeninterest in law and civics, which enabled him to grow up as anall-round leader. The influence of the Hindu scripture and classicstories that his mother told him when he was still young served asfoundations of leadership wisdom in his later years (Bose&amp Jalal, 2014).

Indeed,as Radhakrishnan (2015) observes, although Mahatma Gandhi’sperspectives evolved over time, his early experiences formed thebasis of his mature philosophy. For instance, during his time inEngland, he retained truthfulness, charity, temperance, andvegetarianism, which were Indian values imparted to him when he wasyoung. The values of Jainism, which laid emphasis on compassion forall forms of life, self-discipline, fasting for self-purification andtolerance, helped to mentor him from a young age (Radhakrishnan,2015).

Nevertheless,this point does not imply Gandhi did not learn from his adultexperiences. The challenges he encountered also made himwho hebecame. For example, his return to India to practice law turnedunfruitful, and he had to accept the offer to work in South Africa,where he was exposed to ideas from diverse people across the world(Bose&amp Jalal, 2014).

Theexperiences that he had when studying law in London helped him tounderstand the philosophical principles of leadership deeply. Forinstance, when serving in his position as the head of the executivecommittee of the vegetarian society, he learned the importance ofvirtues such as truthfulness, temperance, and chastity. Besides, whenhe was in London, Mahatma Gandhi learned proficiency in publicspeaking, negotiations, and self-promotionand media relationsprotocols. He went on to apply these skills in South Africa whenpracticing law. These experiences enabled him to nurture skills onhow to move masses and be a great leader (Hardiman,2011).

MahatmaGandhi’s expectations were dashed when he returned to India topractice law, only to be frustrated by the colonial administration.While be believed that morality and humanity were the values that hethought should be the core values of government, this position costhim his first position when working with different colonialsuperintendents. However, he never felt discouraged (Hardiman,2011).

Hisassignment to South Africa helped him to nurture new perspectivesabout life and mold a mature philosophy that would guide him for therest of his life. As Boseand Jalal (2014)note, Mahatma Gandhi was influenced by religious teachings ofSwaminarayan, but also the reforms that were being undertaken inSouth Africa that stressed on non-violence, truthfulness, tolerance,cleanliness and the uplift of masses. While in South Africa, Mahatmaalso met other Indian friends whom they inspired each to work towardsa common goal.Mahatma also learned a lot from books. Hardiman(2011)has particularly documented thathenurtured the culture of seekingknowledge through reading books and articles by great philosophersand renowned authors such as Plato and John Ruskin. In particular, heread and even translated John Ruskin’s “Unto this Last” andPlato’s “Apology” into Gujarati, his native language. Otherliterature that he read include “TheKingdom of God Is Within You”by Leo Tolstoy, “Onthe Duty of Civil Disobedience”by Henry David Thoreau, and “Religion”by William Salter. His perceptions of ethics and morality weregreatly influenced by the wide reading, which he would always reflectin his work. For example, the work of John Ruskin particularly citedto have inspired Mahatma Gandhi to live a modest life, was anattribute that was exemplified by his decision to live in Phoenixfarm in Natal and Tolstoy Farm near Johannesburg, a region surroundedby humblecommunities (Bose&amp Jalal, 2014).

Moreover,the work in South Africa also exposed him to the diverse culturalenvironment and created the allowance to gain popularity in theregion, and to receive organizational and financial support that heneeded most to take his campaigns and interests to the international,national audience. The cultural diversity created the allowance forto blend his Jainism and Hinduism perspectives with Christiandoctrines, and the secularist ideas such as those of John Ruskin andLeo Tolstoy, which strengthened his perspectives concerning therequirements of serving humanity. For example, from his nativeHinduism, he appraised the position of the creator to be above all,and that of man as occupying the center, characterized by a sinfulenvironment that needed to be overcome by exercising values of love,tolerance, and non-violence. According to Bhatt(2012),the Gujarat culture shaped Mahatma Gandhi’s methods of leadershipand his philosophy. For instance, fasting, non-cooperation,compassion, and appeals to justice by rulers were non-violent, andhumility attributes that Mahatma Gandhi learned as a youth raised inthe communities (Gandhi&amp Fischer, 2012).

Therefore,a look at Mahatma’s biography mainly reveals that he may not havebeen born a leader rather, his skills were a nurtured kind. Theintervening social environment in which he was raised, educated andpracticed his profession played a crucial role in making him who heeventually became. The Indian upbringing introduced him to culturalvalues for humanity. The interaction with the rest of the world,including London and South Africa, made him be exposed to the globalcommunity and nurture cross-cultural perspectives of a globalcitizen. The challenges he faced, including losing his parents and afirst child, toughened him in readiness for other real lifechallenges. The education that he received made him a knowledgeableto serve as an assertive lawyer who could tell what was right andwrong about the colonial rule.


Mahatma’sleadership styles were elaborate and satisfactory to earn him thepopularity. There are different factors that influence the choice ofleadership employed in a setting. In the convention, it is oftenimportant for one to understand that many leaders tailor their styleto the interest of their followers and underlying goals andobjectives. Having an understanding of the nature of the interveningenvironment eventually, influences the choice of leadership path thatone adopts. Mahatma Gandhi satisfactorily exhibited this trait. AsBhatt(2012) notes,he was always considerate about what his followers wanted, strivingto be flexible and adjusting his leadership style to suit the diversecontexts.

Therefore,in many cases, Mahatma Gandhi exhibited situational leadershipdepending on prevailing circumstances as laid out in the principlesof management. Rivett(2011) hasdiscussed that, indeed, such a leadership trait is justifiablebecause it was always the only way that desirable reforms could berealized. The colonial administrations were always adamant to adaptto other people’s view, especially when they went against theinterests. Moreover, he also forced decisions when he felt reformswere needed urgently. This approach is also justifiable becauseleadership styles may vary with the amount of time available fordecision making, for example, if the decision is urgent, theautocratic leadership is considered suitable. This tactic can bemainly discerned based on the way he would deal with the colonialauthorities.

Asdocumented by Rivett(2011), Mahatmawas initially loyal to the British rule, but when the colonialistsstarted to crack down on the liberties of the Indians after the FirstWorld War, he decided to start pushing for drastic reforms but byusing non-violent protests. However, when the peaceful protestsresulted in AmritsarMassacre, in which the colonial trips shot and killed peacefulprotesters, he decided that it would no longer be business as usual.He became actively involved in organizing mass campaigns ofnon-cooperation against the colonial rule, which paralyzed theadministration and resulted in his imprisonment as from 1922.

Afterhis release in 1924, he decided to withdraw from politics for awhile, returning in 1930 to write the Declaration of Independence ofIndia. This declaration culminated to the Salt March that protestedagainst the monopoly of the colonialists on salt and entailed civildisobedience of the British rule across India. The salt marchcampaign sought to fight against salt tax in March 1930 (Sarbapriya&amp Ishita 2012).

Hemarched from Ahmedabad to Dandi a distance of 388 kilometers,becoming one the greatestmarches in the Indian history based on thedistance and supporters involved (Bose&amp Jalal, 2014).Thisaction compelled the British to invite Gandhi to London to a roundtable conference to negotiate the peace and independence deal forIndia (Hardiman,2011).At a Congress in 1922, he urged the British to grant Indians dominionor risk complete revolution. In the following year, on December 31,1929, Indians celebrated their independence.

Nevertheless,Mahatma was also democratic. When he felt that his power was limitedand that forcing certain actions would lead to undesirable actions,Mahatma Gandhi would always relent to have negotiations. This choiceof leadership action is also justifiable because it describes aflexible and understanding leader. Gandhi was the key figures behindthe Indian nationalism, employing non-violent leadership approachesreferred to as “Satyagraha”to champion the goals. The Gandhi was actively involved in “TheGandhi-Irwin Pact,”the negotiations that brokered a deal forIndia’s independence. Even so, Gandhi was particularly unrelentingin his demand, causing the negotiation talks to fail. TheColonialists, seeing that he was not going to relent, eventuallydecided to compromise and step down to grant India the independence(Rajini,2013).

Nevertheless,the leadership style that he adopted was largely informed by hispersonality. Leader’s personality affects the choice of leadershipstyle in a workplace situation. Often many choose certain leadershipstyle and employ it in all situations, despite being exposed todifferent possible leadership behaviors(Hardiman,2011).According to Rivett(2011),Mahatma had an exceptional character that made him prefer makingdecisions that assured peace, rather than violence andconfrontations. This trait is seen when he was actively involved innegotiating for independence, instead of agitating for a path ofbloodshed. The ability to use different leadership styles created theallowance for him to leverage various advantages associated with eachapproach. For instance, the use of autocratic approach played acrucial role in agitating drastic measures to bring out changeperceived to be critical. While he used autocratic leadership, he wasalways cautious about the consequences of his actions, bearingresponsibility for the outcomes. On the other hand, the use ofnegotiated or democratic leadership approach was crucial in enablinghim to accommodate the views and be seen to be tolerant. According toHardiman(2011),Mahatma understood a good leader needed to be aware of the impacttheir behavior will have on other people and sought to be asinclusive as possible in his decisions. He also knew that the conductof the leader is crucial when it comes to influencing the outcome ofthe change process, and responded by serving as an example to others.


Mahatma’sachievements included being the prominent spiritual and politicalleader of the twentieth century, fighting for the rights of hispeople in South African against discrimination, leading a two hundredmile walk, and fasting for twenty-one days to cause the colonialauthorities to heed to the calls for reform (Sarbapriya&amp Ishita, 2012).&nbsp

Evenso, leading his people to achieve independence was his greatestachievement (Radhakrishnan, 2015).&nbspLaw teaches one to have aperspective of the both sides of the argument, therefore one is in aposition to judge what is wrong and right. In other words, onedevelops a skill to look at issues objectively. It is an importantskill particularly in the field of politics where fear and anger seemto drive many party policies. Mahatma leveraged this strength toeffect desirable outcomes. First incidents of Mahatma Gandhi’sinvolvement in active political movements in India were hisparticipation in freedom politics. For instance, when the Champaranresidents and farmers were being forced and tortured by the BritishEmpire to grow indigo, they relied on Mahatma Gandhi’s help inmobilizing non-violent protests where they were able to winconcessions from the government (Bose&amp Jalal, 2014). Moreover,he was active in calling for human aid operations across India tohelp the poor communities. For example, worst when floods hit avillage in Gujarat, farmers sought his contribute to addressing theirauthorities to lower taxes to enable them to cope with the adversesituations. He was able to win the support of the revenue officialsto join the protests and employed social boycotts as their tool toagitate their views to the authorities (Ravindra 2000).

Theirpledge to non-payment of taxes forced the government to revise thetax rates until famine ended. Mahatma Gandhi demonstrated toleranceto other religions during his time in India. His influence on theMuslim masses was remarkable. He took part in Khilafat movement thataimed to fight for the rights of Muslims especially after World WarI. He was on the forefront in protecting the status of the Caliph.Because of the vital role he played, he became a prominentspokesperson in the Hindu-Muslim conference. The role that he playedin Caliphate communities enhanced his recognition as a nationalleader (Hardiman,2011).

Mahatmaexhibited this skill wherever he went. For instance, while in London,Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership ambitions began to emerge when hejoined the Vegetarian Society. He was elected to its executivecommittee to push for the interest of the vegetarian communityin1875.After his short return to India, Mahatma Gandhi tried topractice law, championing for the Justice of people, although he wasnot allowed to exercise his duties freely by the British authorities(Ravindra, 2000).

Hewent ahead to serve as a lawyer in South Africa, where he stillrepresented the interests of the Muslim Indian Traders, which wasbased in the city of Pretoria. The legal services he offered arereported to have exhibited diligence and professional competence(Abel,2015). According to Bhatt(2012), Mahatma Gandhi playeda crucial part in defending the right of the both Indians and Muslimswho had been sidelined and discriminated in South Africa. Using hisprofession as a lawyer, he stood for equality and bridged the gapbetween the two communities by extending these advocacies to Asia, inwhich the Indians and the Muslims had been engaged in the religiousconflict. In South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi also pushed the BritishEmpire to allow Indians to participate in the electoral processes inSouth Africa. He even sacrificed his time when he extended his stayin South Africa to lead the Indian community in protesting againstthe bill that denied them the right to vote. He showed courage byfacing the British colonial secretary Joseph Chamberlain to ask himto reconsider his position on the bill (Ravindra2000).

Althoughhe did not succeed this mission, his campaign was successful inbringing into light various grievances of the Indian community inSouth Africa. As part of the process of championing the rights of theIndians in South Africa, Mahatma, together with other human rightsactivists, founded the Natal Indian Congress in 1894, which theIndian community used as a political force to agitate for theirinterests and rights (Duncan,2011).

MahatmaGandhi’s contribution is alsoseenwhen he mobilized the communitiesto oppose the legislations that marginalized Indians in South Africa,which eventually compelled the colonial authorities to startrecognizing the Chinese and Indian population as legitimate citizensin 1906. While the struggle was based on the principles of“satyagraha” that meant devotion to truth, peacefuldemonstrations, it resulted in mass shootings, jail terms, andfloggings of Indian and Chinese communities. Yet thebrutal treatmentdid not stop Mahatma Gandhi and his people from pressing on for theirright. Afterward, the South African government arranged to have JanChristian Smuts, the colonial authority representative, to negotiatewith Mahatma Gandhi on ways to recognize the interests of the Asians(Ravindra2000).

MahatmaGandhi was also one of the volunteers of stretcher-bearers called theNatal Indian Ambulance Corps to rescue wounded people during the BoerWar. The initiative disapproved the notion that Hindus were not fitto carry out dangerous and strenuous activities. Indeed, despite thesevere conditions that even some European corpsmen could not cope,the group accomplished their missions by carrying wounded soldier formiles to field hospitals across rough terrains, sometimes going fordays without food and water. The group later earned the recognitionof General Redvers Buller where each member of the crew received theBoer War Medal (Gandhi&amp Fischer, 2012).

Besides,he spearheaded the movements for the civil rights between 1893 and1914 against colonialism and racial discrimination that were rampantin the society, when he was thrown out of a first-class train becausehe was Indian. As part of the focus of the human rights reforms, hefought for until he was allowed to travel on first-class couch trainsone day. Moreover, Mahatma also faced other forms of discriminationsuch as when the police and magistrates did not allow him to courtwearing a turban. These events motivated and shaped his push forsocial activism against `social injustice, racism and prejudice,where he questioned the place of his people, their culture, andreligious practices in the British colonies (Abel,2015).

Becauseof his immense contributions to human welfare, Mahatma was recognizedas one of the most influential figures that struggled for humanity.For instance, he was recognized as a national hero and even amonument was erected to celebrate his name when South Africa got itsindependence from the British colony in 1994 (Gandhi&amp Fischer, 2012).

Backin India, Mahatma Gandhi used the knowledge on political, social, andethical practices t he had acquired to bring about reforms, givingspeeches to scholars, churches, and the Indian masses. His effortsplayed a vital role in freeing India from the British Empire andinspired its journey to independence. Accordingto Bhatt,(2012)Mahatma Gandhi commanded respect in all fields he was involved. Forinstance, when the British commissioner in India, the then LordChelmsford,was in need of Indians manpower in World War I, he relied on the helpof Mahatma Gandhi to mobilize Indian men and convinced them to go andfight. However, he only did this based on his reason for humanity,yet he wrote to the commissioner that he will not kill or injureanybody, friend or foe (Radhakrishnan,2015).


Inconclusion, the purpose of this paper has been to explore theleadership attributes of lawyer Mahatma Gandhi, focusing on hisbackground, accomplishment, and his training as one of the strongpoints that bring him out as an exemplary leader. Indeed, a look atMahatma’s biography essentially reveals that he may not have beenborn a leader rather, his skills were a nurtured kind. Theintervening social environment in which he was raised, educated andworked played a crucial role in making him who he eventually became.


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