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Typically, a leader is a person whose thoughts, words, and decisions to act or not to act, have a discernible impact on the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of a large number of people around him, as well as on the trajectory of their future lives and livelihoods.

But every leader is not a Responsible Leader.

A responsible leader is one who fulfills each of the following three criteria:

  • She firmly believes that responsible leadership is not just being held responsible for what we do, but also for what we do not do.
  • She ensures that all the decisions she makes and all the actions she takes have a positive, sustainable impact on the lives and livelihoods of not only all the stakeholders in her enterprise, but also on society.
  • She is selfless in all her pursuits; she is guided not by ‘love for power’, but by the ‘power of love’.

You cannot be a Responsible Leader partially. Either you are one; or you are not. If you are one, or if you aspire to be one, you have to meet the above criteria in entirety.

In essence, a sense of responsibility leads to an implicit acceptance of personal accountability for everything one does or does not.

In practice, the sense of responsibility of a leader reflects in her ‘ability to respond responsibly’, with sensitivity, understanding, and urgency.

This ‘ability to respond’ responsibly stems from the DNA of one’s character. It is about winning trust and respect of others. For that, a responsible leader requires three distinct leadership traits:

  • Integrity – It starts with keeping the small promises you make to yourself,
  • Transparency – not merely of her actions, but also of her thoughts, and
  • Compassion – A feeling of unconditional concern and love for others; it is the wisdom of the heart.

 In the final analysis, successful leaders create and generate ‘means to live”; whereas successful responsible leaders also evolve and live with ‘meaning in life’.


These comments are based and derived from Ravi Chaudhry’s writings and books:

Quest for Exceptional Leadership: Mirage to Reality (Sage,2016), and his forthcoming book on Democracy and Governance.

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