Heart of Effective Leadership

- A residential programme for senior managers

A responsible business ensures its financial health and sustainability while being firmly focused on the welfare of all its stakeholders. People with character and values to match the larger mission of the organisation can strike the right balance between profit and societal responsibility. Trustworthiness of character and motives is the heart of effective leadership.

“No success or achievement in material terms is worthwhile unless it serves the needs or interests of the country and its people and is achieved by fair and honest means”

-JRD Tata

For years, the focus of business has been to build competence in its people for economic efficiency. The need for character and values in its leaders and executives for sustainable business has become increasingly obvious. The challenge is how we build character into people.

Heart of Effective Leadership (HEL) programmes, developed in an attempt to meet this challenge, have drawn over 2000 senior executives from leading business houses of the country since 2005. Reputed business groups like Tata, Kirloskar, SKF and Siemens as well as small and medium enterprises regularly depute their senior managers. It is also gaining popularity amongst public sector units with participation from organisations like BARC, KPTCL, NIRD, etc.

Experience with these programmes has confirmed our conviction that each person has within himself/herself the knowledge, wisdom and courage, which come to the fore on quiet reflection.

The programme is designed and conducted by facilitators from a variety of backgrounds, including business and industry, who have applied in their personal life and at work the highest values that they know and reaped gratifying results personally and for the organisation.  The generally interactive and reflective sessions are experiential rather than instructive. They inspire participants to adopt effective ethical leadership for good corporate governance and sustainability. A special feature of the programme is that it is based on the core principle that ‘good inner governance leads to effective external governance’.

The larger role of business

The world has witnessed the devastating effect of exclusive focus on economic gains on certain powerful businesses, brought on by their ‘smart’, shortsighted and greedy executives. Around the world, business holds the key for change in the world. The kind of change it can bring depends on the values and core principles that guide its leaders at every level. Personal and business values contribute to the building of a society where every person is valued and treated with dignity rather than as mere ‘resource’. The programme explores the transformation needed in business to achieve prosperity with social justice for all and care for the environment.

                            A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.

                                                                   -Henry Ford

The leadership challenge

Most of us want change virtually everywhere –family, neighbourhood, organisation, country and of course, the world itself. The need of the hour is effective ‘Change Leaders’. There is enough evidence throughout history until modern days that a value-based life driven by ‘Inner Governance’ engenders trust and empowers positive change.

With real life examples and case studies, the programme facilitates to resolve four key leadership questions:

  • Why leadership based on fear fails in the long run; what can be an alternative basis of leadership?
  • How practice of ‘inner governance’ leads to more trustworthy leadership?
  • Are there practical tools that can help us be steered by ‘Inner Governance’?
  • How to build teams for organisational transformation?

“Productive influence of leaders on people comes from people’s trust. That trust has two components –

Belief in the leader’s COMPETENCE and Belief in the leader’s CHARACTER “

-Linda Hill, Harvard professor

Core Values

Until a few years ago, organisations mainly looked for high IQ in people for executive appointments. When intelligence alone was found inadequate to deal with all situations, EQ came into vogue. For sustainable growth and harmony with the rest of the society, Spiritual Quotient (SQ) in addition to IQ and EQ is being increasingly recognised.

Organizations whose leaders are rooted in ethical and spiritual values draw from their deep ‘Inner Wisdom’ to deal with difficult internal situations as well as with issues relating to the society beyond. Such leaders inspire a life of sincerity and authenticity with focus on all –themselves, others, environment and the wider world. Author Daniel Goleman suggests that leaders with such a focus “can draw on more resources to make better decisions.”

  • When individuals change, situations change.
  • Effective leaders are those who walk their talk.
  • Honest introspection is a starting point of change.
  • People change when they are open, willing and fired with a vision.
  • We can all extend our areas of influence and concern beyond our own immediate surroundings.
  • Each one of us can make a difference to the world around.

The Approach

The programme is essentially participative. Story sharing, meaningful songs, films, group discussions and outdoor activities make learning interesting. Participants also experience the joy of working together on practical tasks. Dedicated times with nature add unique value to the programme.

  What participants may expect

  The free and favourable atmosphere created by multiple factors provides an opportunity to explore:

  • The power of silence to tap their inner resources for facing leadership challenges
  • The secret of building sound relationships for less stressful living and greater effectiveness at home and at work
  • How to build teams in which the ordinary achieve the extraordinary

What organisations can expect

Organisations that have nominated, over a period, a sufficient number (a critical mass) of managers to the programme have reported gradual transformation towards:

  • Increased commitment to ethics and values 
  • Improved listening and employee care
  • Increased harmony among employees of all levels
  • Enhanced stakeholder trust towards the organization
  • Increased awareness of environment and care for its protection.

Participating Organisations

Several private and public organisations have been sending their senior executives regularly. They include private sector groups like Tata, Kirloskar, Mahindra & Mahindra, John Deere, SKF, Thermax, Keihin Fie, TransAsia and many more. The public sector institutions include, among others, SAIL, CIL, BARC, NIRD as well as several state Government enterprises from across the country. Custom designed programmes based on HEL have been conducted for institutions like BESCOM and Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.


The pool of Asia Plateau faculty is spread all over the country. They represent virtually every area of endeavour:

  • Highly regarded senior serving and former directors of leading companies who have faced many ethical dilemmas.
  • A successful Orthopedic Surgeon who turned around a loss making company hospital and ended up heading the administration of the entire company.
  • Management teachers with practical case studies and issues that occupy the minds of today’s aspiring business leaders.
  • Senior government officers who have dealt with both public and private sector issues.
  • Host of people of all backgrounds who have fascinating and insightful experiences as a result of applying the fresh ideas triggered through HEL and similar programmes.
  • Former participants very often return to share their own experience post-HEL.

A few years ago, our team took HEL to Europe. Some comments from participants:

“I got a whole new perspective on leadership”

“The heart of effective leadership is listening to the inner voice, applying values in practice and focusing on needs of people”

“I gained something in every session. The value of silence was reaffirmed”

“It was a profound experience. The heart of effective leadership is values and valuing all people”

We have to shift our emphasis from economic efficiency and materialism towards a sustainable quality of life and to healing of our society, of our people and our ecological systems. -Janet Holmes a Court

(Chairperson of a large Australian private company which she turned around)

Asia Plateau

Asia Plateau in Panchgani, Maharashtra is the education and training centre of Initiatives of Change, a movement for global change based on change in people. It is owned by Friends of Moral Rearmament (India). The 68-acre campus at an altitude of 1,300 meters is 100 kms from Pune, which is the nearest railway station and airport. Opened in 1968, it inspires individuals to make an honest observation of their lives, take corrective steps where needed and to bring about positive change in the world around. The scenic beauty of Asia Plateau offers an ambience for such introspection.

Comments on Asia Plateau

“A visit to Asia Plateau re-affirms my faith that when change begins with self and when there is teamwork, ordinary people can do extraordinary things”.      

-Padma Shri Anu Aga, Director, Thermax Ltd. Pune

“Spending 72 hours in Asia Plateau for the Heart of Effective Leadership (HEL) programme was a turning point for me”.      

-Mr. Soumitra Duttagupta, Vice President  & Head of Environment & Safety, Siemens Ltd., Lead Country India.

“At Asia Plateau the inner beauty and goodness within the human spirit is encouraged to reveal itself and so the depleted spirit is recharged to go forth once again with the hope for a life of service.”      

-Dr Jehan Perera, Sri Lankan Journalist and activist.

Comments by Participants

“I have personally attended this programme along with my entire leadership team in 2011 and found it of immense value. It has helped me transform myself and helped me build a winning team.”  

–R. Ramesh Shankar, Head HR, Siemens Group, India & South East Asia.

“The concept, design and method of this programme are excellent. The facilitators have a wealth of experience to share.” 

–Basant Puli, Senior Manager, Transasia Bio-Medicals.