Leaders Lead People Toward Themselves: Leadership Advice From the
Tao Te Ching
Rena M. Reese
The 17th Verse of the Tao:
With the greatest leader above them,
people barely know one exists.
Next comes one whom they love and praise.
Next comes one who they fear.
Next comes one whom they despise and defy.
When a leader trusts no one,
no one trusts him.
The great leader speaks little.
He never speaks carelessly.
He works without self interest and leaves no trace.
When all is finished, the people say, "We did it ourselves."
Tao Te Ching
If you are in a
position of leadership, consider the types of leaders outlined in
this verse. Which are you? Are you trusted? Feared, loved and
praised? Are you the one they "barely know" exists? This last one
seems counter-intuitive, but with reflection you can see that
empowering people to find their own solutions by being invested in
the process, and taking responsibility for their own work, is the
enlightened way to lead. Anything less is leading from ego.
So what are the
traits of an enlightened leader?
makes a difference in people's lives
Uses love and
peaceful means to resolve conflicts; never makes decisions based
on fear or using fear tactics
adoration of people and their desire to please, responsibly, and
not to feed their own need to be better than, famous, recognized
or more powerful.
that are being led, that they know what is best for themselves
and encourages them to seek their own empowered answers and
kudos freely and with love
credit where credit is due--refusing to take credit for the
ideas and work of others, but rather holding others up and
celebrating their efforts and accomplishments
interest and refrains from viewing those who are being led as an
opportunity for selfish showcasing or profiteering.
pristine, truthful and authentic
Whether you are a
parent, teacher, or CEO-- leadership rules are constant. Presidents,
Queens and Kings can equally use the wisdom of the 17th verse to
lead in an enlightened fashion. When you lead in an enlightened
fashion, people are more creative, resourceful, trusting, loving,
group minded, self-monitored and invested. If you lead with fear,
when your might is gone, your power diminishes along with it. If you
lead with trust, people are more likely to do the right thing when
you are not looking. Just think of the classroom with the strict and
threatening teacher. When the teacher is gone, havoc is more likely
to erupt. Look at nations oppressed by brutal dictators. When the
dictator falls, the people often become unraveled and swing to the
other extreme, from controlled to out-of-control.
leaders use their followers' burning need to be noticed and
acknowledged-- to manipulate. Enlightened leaders use that same need
to empower and activate their followers' self-pride and success.
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Rena M. Reese.
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