The best leader is one whose presence is unknown to his people;
The next best is one who is loved and praised;
The next is one who is feared;
The worst is one who is despised;
When a leader has no trust in his people,
The people have no trust in him.
The best leader reflects and chooses his words carefully.
When his objective is achieved and the work is done,
The people all say, “We did it ourselves.”
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 17: the best leader
The highest good is like water;
Water brings good to all things without contending with them;
It settles in places that people disdain;
Thus, it’s close to the Dao.
In choosing your home, it’s the location that counts;
In cultivating your mind, it’s depth that counts;
In dealing with others, it’s goodness that counts;
In speaking, it’s good faith that counts;
In governing, it’s order that counts;
In handling affairs, it’s ability that counts;
In action, it’s timing that counts.
By not contending with others,
You won’t be singled out for reproach.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 8: like water
The Daodejing is a rich source of leadership wisdom. Here is a collection of the most popular quotes on the subject from the text. Continue reading Daodejing quotes on leadership
Although the Daodejing has a mystical feel to it, thanks in large part to the ambiguity of some of the terms it uses and the richness of its language, the book is at heart a leadership manual that was written to warn the ruling class of the time against their excessive greed, depravity, and cruelty. Continue reading Daodejing: The best leaders
Laozi regarded the possession of what he defined as feminine qualities such as openness, receptiveness, and boundless creativity as vital in a leader. In the sixth chapter of the Daodejing, he calls the Way* “the subtle and profound female” and describes it as “continuous and everlasting”. Continue reading Daodejing on Leadership: Like Water
If I was asked to choose one word to describe what the Daodejing is about, I would have no hesitation at all in saying “leadership”. Despite the ambiguous, some might say mystical, language of the first chapter, Laozi is already beginning to lay out the principles and processes that a leader should follow in order to foster a stable and harmonious society and opening “the gateway to its (the Way’s) whole essence”. Continue reading Daodejing on Leadership: Bowls and Bellows
Although some people question whether this is the final chapter of the Daodejing, it certainly provides a fitting conclusion to it – neatly summing up the most important principles we should follow as we make our way through life. Continue reading A fitting conclusion
Water may be soft and yielding, but it will eventually wear down even the largest and strongest rock by embracing it rather than confronting it. In the same way, wise leaders do not fight criticism and resistance; they accept and absorb them while patiently sticking to the correct course. Continue reading As weak as water
Companies fail when they become rigid and inflexible. The key responsibility of a leader is to make sure they remain supple and agile so that they can weather the inevitable storms they face and come out stronger. Continue reading Soft and supple
As history has shown on so many occasions, people will inevitably rebel if their government is too repressive. Once they realize they have nothing to lose, not even the death penalty can frighten them. Continue reading Beyond fear