THE TAO OF LEADERSHIP
“GOOD LEADERSHIP CONSISTS OF DOING LESS AND BEING MORE”
Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching was written to provide guidance for
wise political rules of 5th century B.C.
1. Tao Means How
Tao means how: how things happen, how things work. Tao is the single principle underlying all creation. Tao is God. Tao cannot be defined, because it applies to everything. You cannot define something in terms of itself. If you can define a principle, it is not Tao. Tao is a principle. Creation, on the other hand is a process. That is all there is: principle and process, how and what. All creation unfolds according to Tao. There is no other way. Tao cannot be defined, but Tao can be known. The method is meditation, or being aware of what is happening. By being aware of what is happening, I begin to sense how it is happening. I begin to sense Tao
2. The Group Field
Pay attention to the silence. What is happening when nothing is happening in a group? That is the group field. Thirteen people sit in a circle, but it is the climate or the spirit in the center of the circle, where nothing is happening, that determines the nature of the group field….People’s speech and actions are figural events. They give the group form and content. The silences and empty spaces, on the other hand, reveal the group’s essential mood, the context for everything that happens. That is the group field.
3. Giving Up Selfishness.
To become more profound, give up your selfishness. Let go of your efforts to be perfect or rich or secure or admired. Such efforts only limit you. They block your universality…. My deeper self knows that I am one with everything else anyway. All creation is a single whole, which works according to a single principle. I let my selfishness go and give up the illusion of being separate. I act in behalf of the whole. I benefit me and I benefit you. I am with odds with on one. I am a peace, and have energy to spare, because I am not resisting what is happening.
4. The paradox of Letting Go
When I let go of what I am. I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need. These are feminine or Yin paradoxes: By yielding, I endure. The empty space is filled. When I give of myself, I become more. When I feel most destroyed, I am about to grow. When I desire nothing, a great deal comes to me…. Do you want to be free and independent? Conform to God’s law; that is how everything happens anyway…. This is the wisdom of the feminine: let go in order to achieve. The wise leader demonstrates this.
The leader can act as a warrior or as a healer. As a warrior, the leader acts with power and decision. That is the Yang or the masculine aspect of leadership. Most of the time, however, the leader acts as a healer and is in an open receptive, and nourishing state. That is the feminine or Yin aspect of leadership. There is a third aspect of leadership: Tao. Periodically, the leader withdraws from the group and returns to silence, returns to God. Being, doing, being…. Then, Tao. I withdraw in order to empty myself of what has happened, to replenish my spirit.
Do you want to be a positive influence in the world? First, get your own life in order…. If you do that, you will earn respect and be a powerful influence. Your behavior influences others through a ripple effect. A ripple effect works because everyone influences everyone else. Powerful people are powerful influences. If your life works, you influence your family. If your family works, your family influences the community. If your community works, your nation influences the world.
As much as possible, allow the group process to emerge naturally. Resist the temptation to instigate issues or elicit emotions, which have not appeared on their own. If you stir things up, you will release forces before their time and under unwarranted pressure…. These forces are real and exist within the group. But do not push. Allow them to come out when they are ready. When hidden issues and emotions emerge naturally, they resolve themselves naturally…. All energies naturally arise, take form, grow strong, come to a new resolution, and finally pass away.
Why is the ocean the greatest body of water? Because it lies below all the rivers and streams, and is open to them all. What we call leadership consists mainly of knowing how to follow. The wise leader stays in the background and facilitates other people’s process. The greatest things the leader does goes largely unnoticed. Because the leader is open, any issue can be raised. Because the leader has no position to defend and shows no favoritism, no one feels slighted; no one wishes to quarrel.
Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. The wise leader knows that yielding overcomes resistances, and gentleness melts rigid defenses. The leader does not fight the force of the group’s energy, but flows and yields and absorbs and lets go. A leader must endure a great deal of abuse. If the leader were not like water, the leader would break. The ability to be soft makes the leader a leader.
You may want to pick up this insightful book and review all of its 81 short chapters as a way of broadening your own views on leadership.