Saturday, 5 December 2015

“There is something unique in this soil, which despite many obstacles has always remained the abode of great souls.” ― Sardar Vallabhai Patel

One of the Indian leaders I admire the most is Sardar Vallabhai Patel whose birth anniversary coincides with mine. I would like to highlight this Indian legendary leader and lessons leaders must learn from him in this article.

Vallabhai Jhaverbhai Patel was born on 31 October 1875 in Nadiad, Gujarat in India. He was a farmer by birth. He became a lawyer and freedom fighter, and is revered as the ‘Iron Man of India.’ He is affectionately called Sardar (chief or leader in English) Vallabhai Patel in India. He rose from humble origins. Mahatma Gandhi was his mentor. He was a man of very few words and was firm in his convictions. He played a crucial role for India’s Independence along with other leaders including Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. He became the first deputy Prime Minister in independent India. He was the pioneer of modern all-India services system. He united princely states in India and took police action to unite Hyderabad State into India. He died on 15 December 1950.

Vallabhai Jhaverbhai Patel was conferred with Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honor in 1991. Indian Government began celebrating his birth anniversary as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day) from 2014.  There are several leadership lessons to learn from him. Here are some them:

Leadership Lessons from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

Be Bold: He was a very bold leader who did not hesitate to make tough decisions in pre-Independence and post-Independent India.  He led from the front without any fear or favor. He didn’t bother for unhealthy criticism. He was courageous to integrate Hyderabad and Junagarh whose leaders resisted joining India. He became a role model and inspiration for other freedom fighters in India for his courageous decisions.
Be a Strategist: He was a great strategist with a strong vision to integrate India as one nation and as a strong nation. His vision and strategy laid foundation stones for a strong and vibrant India. Additionally, he was a troubleshooter who showed right direction to the nation after attaining independence. He is highly admired for accomplishing the integration of princely states of India.
Be an Effective Negotiator: He was a skillful negotiator who built consensus amongst the different castes and communities through trust and transparency. He had the ability to carry all sections of people with his persuasion and negotiation skills. Prime Minister Nehru once remarked, "Sardar Patel’s name will live forever in history. He is the Architect of Modern India. He was a wise counselor in the hour of trial, a trustworthy friend and a mine of courage and inspiration."
Learn when to Hold and when to Fold: He was a great decision-maker who knew when to hold and when to fold. Once he made a decision, he never looked back. He moved forward irrespective of the outcome. He had the courage and conviction. That is why he is also known as the ‘Bismarck of India.’


“Your goodness is impediment in your way, so let your eyes be red with anger, and try to fight the injustice with a firm hand.” ― Sardar Vallabhai Patel

It is unfortunate that Indian history books did not give due attention and recognition to Sardar Patel for his contribution. They focused more on the achievements of Nehru, not Sardar Patel.  Although Nehru’s contribution cannot be underestimated, Sardar’s contribution is equally relevant and significant, and he needs to be given due recognition and respect for his extraordinary contribution.

Sardar Vallabhai Patel was a phenomenal leader of India. He had political acumen with an iron will power to take on the challenges aggressively. He was responsible for integration of India geographically and politically. He had several ideological differences with Pandit Nehru but worked with team spirit to ensure smooth transition from pre-independence to post-independence era. We Indians are proud to have such a great nationalist and patriot. He was one of the tallest Indian freedom fighters who will be remembered forever for his contributions. We must emulate his ideas and ideals to build a secular, strong and united India. Jai Hind!

“Faith is of no avail in absence of strength. Faith and strength, both are essential to accomplish any great work.” ― Sardar Vallabhai Patel

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Professor M.S.Rao, India
Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants India
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  1. A great article on Sardar Patel who was neglected by Congress government. He is noted for transiting India from per-independence to post-independence era successfully. He played his role effectively by integrating India as a great nation in the world. India needs such leaders now.
    Looking forward to reading such inspiring posts from inspiring personalities like you. Jai Hind!

  2. A very good post on this forgotten hero.

  3. Thanks for sharing leadership lessons from Sardar Patel. They are worth emulated by others.