Saint Francis of Assisi
Rachel Carson
  Dorothy Day
  Mohandas Gandhi
  Jiddu Krishnamurti
  Dalai Lama
  Martin Luther King
  Nelson Mandela
  Anita Roddick
  Eleanor Roosevelt
  Albert Schweitzer
  Mother Teresa
  Desmund Tutu
Chair in Ethical Management
HEC Montreal


Generations to come will scarcely believe
that such a one as this ever
in flesh and blood
walked upon this earth.

Albert Einstein on Mohandas Gandhi

Human beings who achieve a mature integration of action, decision and contemplation are rare. Mohandas Gandhi was one of these beings.

He was also the leader of 400 millions souls for more than 30 years and the father of the nation which is today the largest democracy in the world.

Considered by Time Magazine as one of the three key figures who best exemplifies the 20th century, with Albert Einstein and F.D. Roosevelt, Gandhi’s integral leadership is enlighting for our current search for prosperity, meaning, ethics and peace.

The leadergraphy on Gandhi will not be another biography idealizing him. One does not have even to agree with his ascetic life nor his metaphysics for being inspired by his example. The book will extract from Gandhi’s life and historical context the lessons to be learned for today’s leaders and their associates. This includes the skills of management of self and of the moulding of culture, as well as the competencies for inspiring behaviors and creating efficient tools and institutions.

But beyond a mere check list of deeds to imitate, this book will provide an example that can inspire leaders and non leaders to live individually and collectively a more integrated life at work, home and society.

History generally remembers Gandhi as the leader who ended India’s colonisation. We believe that this is misleading. While he certainly played a central role in that liberation, he remained faithful to the British rule for about two thirds of his life and he did not rejoice when his country achieved independence in 1947. Gandhi wished much more than India’s liberation from the British Empire: he wished the psychological, economical, political and spiritual liberation of all men and women in India, indeed in the whole world.

For many people, most of the knowledge they have of Gandhi has been derived from the film directed by Richard Attenborough, Ghandi, featuring Ben Kingsley. While this movie is indeed superb in many respects, having won 9 academy awards in 1982, including one for best picture, it also reinforced the view of Gandhi as the “political liberator”. This is, as we shall show in the leadergraphy, a view that does not resonate with Gandhi’s life message.

If readers let go their preconceived notions on Gandhi, we are convinced that they will encounter in this leadergraphy a great soul and a great leader who walked upon this earth, in flesh and blood, with all the fragilities of a human being.

Indeed, Mohandas Gandhi was not born the Mahatma, “the great soul”. Like all of us, he had to grow into maturity through many experiences in life. A great many studies in leadership do indicate that leaders are not born as such: they undergo a developmental process. And yet, a good number of people still believe today that leaders carry special gifts in their genes. At the extreme, these people then divide the world between a few all-powerful leaders and the masses, composed of passive followers. Contrary to this belief, Gandhi’s life demonstrates that an ordinary human being can become an international leader, indeed an integral one.

Gandhi’s personal story is a testimony that all of us can act from the “better angels of one’s nature”, as Abraham Lincoln nicely put it. This will be the central evidence this leadergraphy will document.

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Key documents on Gandhi

Biography: Judith M. Brown (1989). Gandhi. Prisoner of Hope. New Haven : Yale University Press.
Autobiography: Mohandas, K. Gandhi (1957). An Autobiography. The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press.
Collection of texts: John Dear (Ed.) (2002). Mohandas Gandhi. Essential Writings. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books.
Collection of texts: Thomas Merton (Ed.). (1964). Gandhi on Non-violence. Selected Texts. New York : New Directions Books.

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Key Websites on Gandhi

1. Time Magazine

Texts on Gandhi, chosen as one of the three top leaders of the 20th century by Time Magazine, including a tribute by Nelson Mandela

2. Gandhi Fondation

The most comprehensive web site on Gandhi, including 1400 photographs, several hours of audio and video, 1,500 web links and references to 8,800 books.

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