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Be the Change You Want to See in Your Workforce

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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi -- known to most of us as Mahatma (meaning "Great Soul") Gandhi -- was a prominent leader in India's struggle to gain independence from Great Britain. He's revered by many as a symbol of peace and truth. As a leader, there is a lot that we can learn from his teachings.

Although Gandhi's words and teachings are typically applied to humankind as a whole, much of his advice can be aptly applied and tailored to the workplace. Here are a few of Gandhi's most influential quotes and how they can help employers create a more unified, engaged workforce:

"Be the change you want to see in the world."

One of the simplest ways to successfully lead and inspire employees is to lead by example. After all, actions speak louder than words—especially to employees. It's an employer's responsibility to inspire and encourage employees to push themselves to reach peak performance.

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Since employees tend to watch every move their employers make, employers must conduct themselves accordingly. For instance, if office gossip is distracting workers and having a negative impact on office culture, steer the conversation away from such talk. If employees don't take responsibility for their mistakes, show them how it's done by openly accepting accountability when necessary.

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."

In other words, workplace happiness and productivity are largely dependent on connecting the thoughts, words, and actions of employees. This is especially important when it comes to aligning employee work goals to the overall goals of the company.

Employees should have a clear understanding of company objectives, so employers must regularly articulate the mission. An employee who is updated on and understands the company strategy can better align their own goals to those of the organization.

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"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."

A characteristic many leaders have in common is the willingness to help others in need. This is particularly important for leadership within the workplace. In an effort to keep employees satisfied in their positions and further motivate them to pursue work-related goals, consider implementing an open-door policy. Let employees know that, should they need assistance, they're welcome -- and encouraged -- to ask for help.

This advice from Gandhi can also refer to a company's philanthropic efforts. Not only can corporate giving have a lasting effect on a community, but it can also benefit a company's image, teamwork, employee engagement and morale. A company that serves together thrives together.

"Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love."

Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear and punishment. How a manager treats his or her employees can either positively or negatively affect morale and productivity. In fact, a 2014 survey of more than 2,100 CFOs and nearly 300 employees by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) cites unhappiness with management as one of the top reasons employees leave their jobs.

To breed happy, loyal employees, actively show them just how much they're appreciated and valued within the workplace. Recognize employees for their achievements or celebrate important employee milestones. Even a simple "thank you" can make a world of difference to employees.

Which Gandhi quote resonates with you the most? Let us know in the comments below.

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