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The Tao on Leadership

The Tao on Leadership

Oct 13, 2009 10:14:43 PM

I continue to emerse myself in writings from many of the great thought leaders on the topic of Leadership.  I recently reviewed leadership competencies from well known authors like John Maxwell, Kouzes and Posner, and Daniel Goleman.  Their contributions and wisdom in the field of leadership development are imense and I continue to be a huge fan of each of these leadership giants. 

This morning I was struck by another piece of leadership wisdom that came in the form of the 17th verse of the Tao by Lao-tzu.  I found it to be as relevant today as I can only imagine it was some 2500 years ago.  I was struck with some of the parallels between this verse and what I had learned last night from a very different source.  

My husband and I attended a seminar on Parenting with Love and Logic by it’s founder, Jim Fay.  Jim spoke about the importance of leading from behind with our children and hoping that our kids “blow it” so they can have the benefit of a learning event:  Better for them to fail today while the stakes are not so high.  Jim said, our kids don’t need us to be hovering, experts or authoritiarians, or parents that handle everything.  Our kids need us to give them parameters and then let them take it and run with it, learning from their mistakes. He also emphasized that it is important to guide from a place of empathy.  Always disciplining with love and compassion rather than frustration and anger.

I have included the 17th verse below.  I hope it inspires you as you cultivate your leadership at the office, and at home!

With the greatest leader above them,

people barely know one exists.

Next comes one whom they love and praise,

Next comes one whom 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.”

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Deb Siverson

Deb Siverson is the owner and founder of Xponents. She completed her Masters in Organizational Leadership from University of Colorado-Boulder. Deb is the author of the book, "The Cycle of Transformation: igniting organizational change through the leader coach."

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