"Three virtues are required if we are to be true leaders: the virtue of cutting off, the virtue of loving, and the virtue of insight.

"The first virtue you need to use your power skillfully is the virtue of cutting off. Cutting off what? You cut off your anger, your craving, and your ignorance. Another way of saying this is 'letting go.' You gradually transform your craving, anger, fear, and delusion. If you don't have this kind of self-mastery, you can cause yourself and others great suffering, and people will not respect you. We only need to remember the many politicians and leaders whose careers were ruined by sex scandals to see the importance of cutting off the craving for meaningless sex. This is why cutting off brings power. When you encounter someone who has the virtue of cutting off, who is free from her afflictions, you have respect for her and you listen to her. The virtue of cutting off brings liberation and lightness to body and mind. We can't buy it in the supermarket. We must attain it through our own practice.

"A good leader also has the virtue of loving. You have the capacity to be affectionate, to accept, forgive, and embrace the other person with loving kindness and compassion. When you have this power, you are happy and people respect you — not because you shout at them or scold them, but because you offer care and compassion. People who lack compassion, love, and forgiveness suffer a lot. When you can forgive, when you can accept, you feel light, you can relate to other living beings. Without compassion, you are utterly alone. That is why compassion is the ground of happiness. If our political and business leaders can cultivate this virtue, this power of loving, they will not misuse other kinds of power: money, fame, and position in society. They will not make themselves and others unhappy.

"A good leader also has to have the virtue of insight. Knowledge is not the same as insight. There are people with numerous PhDs, who know a vast array of scientific, philosophical, and literary discourses by heart, who can give eloquent commentaries on the Buddhist Canon, but they don't have insight, they don't have wisdom. Wisdom or insight is born from looking deeply. A genuine leader has the wisdom to show us the path out of suffering. You may be in a difficult situation, caught in confusion, and without direction. When you come to a true leader, he can show you the way. Very quickly you see a way out, because he has wisdom.

"When we have insight, we can easily take care of difficulties, tension, and contradictions. If we don't have it, we just go around in circles, haunted and controlled by our suffering, fear, and worries. So the third virtue is to be able to look deeply to gain insight, so we can resolve our difficulties and help other people.

"If you lead with the three virtues of cutting off, offering love, and cultivating insight, you have real authority. Simply having the title of leader is not enough. Titles do not give true power. When you practice mindfulness well and you radiate joy, stability, and peace, you acquire a much deeper authority. When you speak, people listen to you, not because they have to but because you are fresh, serene, and wise. A good leader is one who exercises only this kind of authority. She doesn't strive for it or want to use it, but it comes naturally. She inspires people by her way of living, and people listen to her because of her authenticity.

"You can evaluate the quality of your authority by looking deeply to see if compassion is the foundation of your leadership. See if your authority comes to you because of your spiritual insight rather than your wealth or your position in the community. Even if you are the pope, if you don't have that spiritual life, that loving kindness and compassion, you don't have real authority. You might give orders that people follow because they are afraid of you, but this is not true authority."