8 Leadership Qualities of Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi had a great effect on our world. Born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in October 1869, Gandhi was an Indian lawyer, politician, writer, and social activist who led the movement against British rule in India.

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi is known as the father of India because of his theory of nonviolent protest. He achieved political and social progress with nonviolent protest and is known widely as a pursuer of peace. Gandhi was a successful lawyer who gave up his practice to live a simpler, more peaceful life.

Many people admire Gandhi because of his simplistic and peaceful mindset. Wherever Gandhi went, people flocked to hear him speak, day or night.

Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership style is complex because he was not a typical leader. Gandhi was not authoritarian, but he was strong in a different way. There are many strengths in his unique leadership style. These include:

With these qualities of a leader and many more, Mahatma Gandhi went on to successfully lead the movement against British rule in India while simultaneously pursuing peace rather than war. Years later, Gandhi is still a household name because of these leadership skills.

Leading By Example

The world’s greatest leaders are well renowned because of how they live their own lives. Both personally and professionally, a true leader is followed because the followers believe the story that the leader’s actions tell. This is exceptionally true with the leadership and actions of Mahatma Gandhi.

People of many nationalities, classes, and communities followed Gandhi’s example because of the way he lived his life. He communicated his peaceful ideas with grace and charisma, leading people of all types to grasp his every word. Because he lived his own life in this peaceful way, his leadership benefitted. When a leader does not only talk the talk, but he also walks the walk, the people following him can see his genuine nature and the truth of his actions and therefore follow him all the more willingly.

One way Gandhi led by example was by the way he carried himself. He always had humble clothes and accessories, and he did not have a lot of material possessions. In his fight for peace, people believed his teachings because of the genuineness of his character and actions and how little he relied on material things.

Many leaders can often be followed due only to their wealth and status, even if their actions are immoral and wrong. Mahatma Gandhi’s peaceful and minimalist mindset was a breath of fresh air to a people who had been oppressed by people of great wealth and status.

Treating Others Well

Mahatma Gandhi also had a heart for the people of India, and he shared that heart frequently in how he treated them. When he taught the people of India, he never spoke or wrote from a place of power and status, but with equality and compassion.

Leaders in history have often put themselves and their own professional advancement over the best interests of the institution that they lead. They sacrifice the betterment of the people they lead for their own gain. Gandhi was not this way. He made an effort to truly understand the people he represented and spoke to his people from their own point of view. The people of India respected the way Gandhi viewed individual Indian people.

Being a Lifelong Learner

One of the great qualities of a leader is the willingness to continue to learn. No one likes a leader with a big ego who comes across as a know-it-all. Gandhi was not this way at all.

"A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes."
Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi continuously studied scripture in the pursuit of higher spiritual understanding. He knew that he did not know everything, and despite his old age, he continued to learn for his entire life. Being a lifelong learner is a great character quality for a leader because it shows the people you lead that you are willing to learn and grow, rather than just dictate.

There is a need for constant growth in life and not complacency. Gandhi was never complacent but always learning and growing.

Showcasing Emotional, Spiritual, and Mental Strength

The leaders of days past were often physically strong. Stories of ancient governments and civilizations are full of strong heroes who slew the giants and save everyone. These leaders used brute force in war and battle. Gandhi, and many leaders of today, are not excessively physically strong but are emotionally, spiritually, and mentally strong.

Gandhi showed immense emotional, spiritual, and mental strength as he used completely nonviolent methods to achieve his goals. His entire leadership strategy revolved around peaceful protest and social justice. Gandhi never used any leverage to convince people to bend to his whims. He led people by speaking to their hearts. It takes true emotional strength to lead people with truth, peace, and compassion.

Being Persistent

Because Mahatma Gandhi used peaceful methods to get his message out there, he had to be persistent. Forceful methods of leadership can give people no choice but to follow you, but persistence in peace makes the people you lead excited to follow you.

Gandhi was persistent in peace. He practiced what he preached, and people were thrilled to listen to his teaching because of that. Once he articulated his vision for peace, he was determined to follow through, even at the cost of his own well-being sometimes. Gandhi was so dedicated to the people of India that he was known to sometimes speak to people after events so late in the evening that he would go days without rest.

Having Incredible Discipline

Any high-capacity person with a high-achieving mentality has to be disciplined. Discipline enables you to take the twenty-four hours we all have in the day and achieve everything you need to do.

Leaders often have a lot on their plates, and they need the discipline to ensure that all the tasks get completed. Gandhi was an incredibly disciplined individual. He was known to continuously learn and study. As a lifelong learner, he was always pursuing more knowledge and spiritual enlightenment. In order to study, enhance his spiritual life, be involved in politics and social justice, and prepare speeches, speak, and write, he had to be very intentional with his time.

Gandhi used his time wisely and was very disciplined in his practices, so everything that needed to be done got done. Gandhi believed that being committed to his discipline and challenging himself made him more successful in achieving his goals.

Being the Change He Wanted to See in the World

Just like leading by example, leaders need to be the change they want to see in the world. Gandhi had a vision for the world that was centered around peace and compassion. In turn, he needed to pursue peace and compassion in his own life. He did lead by example often, pursuing his own peace and showing compassion to others.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi’s dedication to peace and nonviolent protesting is the foundation of all of his teaching. He was persistent in his pursuit of these nonviolent and peaceful methods. Before starting his nonviolent movement, Gandhi was a successful lawyer with a thriving practice. He sacrificed his success to identify with the more humble class of Indian people and live a simpler life.

This enabled him to see the change he wanted to see in the world and work towards that. The Indian people respected him for this sacrifice and for his simple life because he understood them.

Having a Strategy

A successful leader has a game plan. Having a strategy and being willing to strategize is a big part of being a leader. Gandhi was a strategist - always thinking and analyzing a strategy for his peaceful methods of politics. He utilized a public relations network and also worked closely with the media. He had a good relationship with the media because everyone respected him.

Because of his background, Gandhi had a deep understanding of human psychology and worked with that to affect people even more. When he had peaceful protests, he knew that he needed to create a presence so that people would notice. He used these methods and more to use strategy for his cause.


All in all, Gandhi is a well-known leader who embodies many of the characteristics of a strong leader. By leading by example, treating others well, and being the change he wanted to see in the world, Gandhi showed the Indian people that he was on their side and that he wanted to work for them and their good.

By having a strategy and focusing on his emotional, spiritual, and mental strength, Gandhi used his brain and willingness to be a lifelong learner to show the people he led that he was dedicated to them and their causes. Being persistent and having discipline are characteristics that show a leader has control of their time and is able to achieve and lead well.

Gandhi showed all of these characteristics and more in his leadership of the people of India. He is still well-known for all of his peaceful ideologies and for the simple, admirable life he led. Mahatma Gandhi truly led by example.

About the Author
Hi there, I'm James, founder of Melbado. I have over 20 years of experience as a leader and entrepreneur. Recently, I turned to leadership coaching and writing to pass on my knowledge to the next generation. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me via our contact page.


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