It was heartening to learn that RCSC is planning to revamp the work culture in civil service with the aim of attracting and retaining young civil servants (Kuensel, April 17, 2024).

The RCSC has taken note of some of the factors that contribute towards not-so-desirable work culture. One of the problems identified by civil servants was the issue of leadership—incompetent leaders.

According to literature on leadership and my own experience, a leader has to have the quality to lead his or her team in the most professional and collegial manner in most cases to the identified destiny—national or organisational  goals and aspirations.

The style of leadership, however, will depend upon naure of works, situations, types of people one deals with. In a situation of emergency, a leader has to be decisive—no time to adopt the principle of democratic approach, which requires adequate time.

We are blessed that our Boddhisattva King spells out national goals and aspirations through numerous and various Royal Addresses. The question we need to ask is how many of our leaders attentively listen to Royal Addresses and make efforts to fathom the words of wisdom and then analyse and apply these words of wisdom in the formulation of policy objectives and implementation of programmes and activities.

This is what Buddhism promotes—three kinds of knowledge or wisdom (sherub suum). We listen and learn from various sources (thoe pai sherub) and understand and analyse what we have learned (sam pai sherub), and then contemplate on and apply what have learned and analysed (g­om pai sherub).

At the entrance to the great hall of RIGGS in Phuntsholing is the sign with the profound message: “Sherub suum gyi nang war gye par sho”.

How many of us who have gone through the leadership training at RIGSS have tried to understand this profound signage and understand it and adopt it as a guiding principle in our day-to-day life and in workplaces.

Yes, RCSC is right to say that learning for our leaders is a life-long process. Our leaders must make efforts to learn to listen to his or her team members, instead of sidelining or branding someone as critical, vocal, and aggressive.

A leader is not thamchen khenpa (omniscient). Thus, a leader has to listen and learn from colleagues and others.

A leader has to be knowledgeable about national goals and aspirations, which are translated into organisational goals and objectives so that he or she can confidently and competently lead his or her team to the shared destiny.

How to lead one’s team will involve the formulation of policies, programmes, strategies and activities with total involvement of team members. For this to happen, there has to be a conducive environment or work atmosphere that excites and enthuses every team member with different levels of intelligence and diligence.

Supervisors readily provide mentorship for young officers wherever it’s needed. Through this process, a natural working relationship and mutual respect are fostered between them.

Gone are the days, when we had civil servants with lower qualification and less exposures, which demanded a different set of approache to management. Now, we have highly qualified and richly exposed civil servants.

According to literature, as individuals become more professionalised, they tend to seek increased autonomy and discretion. However, this doesn’t imply that an employee should be given complete independence. Rather, they should operate within the boundaries of their expertise and the organization’s overall framework.

In the past, some leaders used the grapevine as a communication channel to gather feedback before making unpopular decisions. While I don’t endorse the negative and abusive aspects of social media, our leaders could tap into the sentiments of civil servants who use social media to express their opinions.

In a close-knit society, transparency is expected, but people often hesitate to expose wrongdoing due to the inability to remain anonymous and disappear, as in larger countries. Establishing a comprehensive communication network with technological tools can foster a positive organisational climate and culture.

I firmly believe that regardless of a leader’s academic, intellectual, and digital proficiency, true effectiveness and efficiency stem from possessing a fundamental understanding of universal values and Buddhist principles. These principles, which are scientific and practical, can greatly enhance leadership capabilities.

Even at a mundane level, for example, the application of the noble eightfold path, which constitutes the last group of 37 factors of enlightenment, can empower a leader to excel in our day-to-day responsibilities and personal life—the essence of a complete leader.


Contributed by

Dasho Zangley Dukpa