Be the Change You Want to See in Your Employees

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi – more commonly referred to as Mahatma Gandhi – was a prominent figure in India’s campaign for independence from British rule and remains an iconic symbol of truth and non-violence today, nearly 65 years after his death.

While the words and teachings of Gandhi are most aptly applied to humankind as a whole, there is still plenty of sage advice that can be extracted and tailor fit to the workplace. Just as Gandhi showed us that one shining example can inspire millions, affecting change among your employees begins with you.

Let’s take a look at some of Gandhi’s most influential quotes and how they can be applied to coaching your team and transforming your workplace into a more engaged and productive whole.

“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”
The greatest accomplishments in history have only been achieved due to pure, unadulterated faith in the possibility of success. And that’s exactly the kind of spirit great leaders must strive to infuse into their employees. Your team needs to understand why the work they do is important and how each individual members’ contribution is significant. A leader’s ability to motivate and inspire can be directly correlated to the overall success of their people and the company as a whole.    

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
The “do as I say, not as I do” mentality doesn’t earn your employees’ respect and dedication. In fact, it does just the opposite. Lead by example and don’t hesitate to roll up your sleeves and jump down in the trenches with your workers. Not only will you show that you’re not afraid of a little elbow grease, but it will help dispel the ivory tower image your workforce may have of company leadership.  

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”
No one is infallible. At some point we all make mistakes. Even the most seasoned professionals will make a misstep from time to time, so it’s not realistic to expect your employees to be 100% flawless, 100% of the time. Obviously, when mistakes become an ongoing issue, it should be dealt with. However, if your workforce is too terrified of the potential consequences of taking a calculated risk, you’ll only end up being seen as a company doing more of the same old thing.   

“Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.”
Truth always wins over deceit – even if in the long run all that is preserved is your own sense of personal integrity. Admitting a mistake and accepting the consequences simply shows that you are human. It’s the step you take immediately after that defines you as a leader. 

“Healthy discontent is the prelude to progress.”
Conflict can be healthy and often leads to bigger and better things. Strive to build a collaborative environment with room for healthy discontent. You don’t want employees who won’t speak up and challenge your ideas. A workforce full of “yes” men and women will lose its competitive and innovative edge. While it is important your team understands that you have the final say, let them have the freedom to stir the pot a little bit. You may be surprised just how creative they can be.

Do you have a favorite Gandhi quote that guides your leadership philosophy? Let us know in the comments section below.


  1. Apply Gandhi’s Philosophies for A Productive Workplace | Media Sales Today - August 22, 2012

    […] to fit their own role in the workplace. Below is an example, and you can find the entire article here. “Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.” Truth always wins over deceit – […]

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