Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Three Essentials of Leadership

I was browsing trough Zen Lessons - The Art of Leadershipand I was again amazed how correct the ancient wisdom is. The rest of this post is simply a copy of what Master Fushan Yuan said in a letter written about 800 years ago:

There are three essentials of leadership:
humanity, clarity, and courage.

Humanely practising the virtues of the Way promotes the influence of the teaching, pacifies those in both high and low positions, and delights those who pass by.

Someone with clarity follows proper behaviour and just duty, recognizes what is safe and what is dangerous, examines people to see weather they are wise or foolish, and distinguishes right and wrong.

The courageous see things through to their conclusion, settling them without doubt. They get rid of whatever is wrong or false.

Humanity without clarity is like having a field but not plowing it. Clarity without courage is like having sprouts and not weeding. Courage without humanity is like knowing how to reap but not how to sow.

When all three of these are present, the community thrives. When one is lacking, the community deteriorates. When two are lacking the community is in peril, and when there are is not one of the three there, the way of leadership is in ruins.

Master Fushan Yuan
in a letter to
Master Jinqyin Tai

The next US president is elected today – do you think the candidates lead according to these essentials?

How about the world financial crisis? Which of these essentials do you think were lacking?

How about the Chinese food and toy scandals? How many of these essentials do you think were lacking?

Don't you think that humanity, clarity, and courage are as essential for 21st century business ethics as they were for ancient Zen monks?


Waugust said...

Hard to say whether or not either candidate will follow those management ways or any philosophical ways for that matter or if they do that we will recognize that they have.

My guess is Mr. Obama will win and presuming he does can you imagine what he will have to do to just meet people's extremely inflated expectations for performance?

Taking nothing away from him, I don't think it is possible for him or anyone in his position to achieve such lofty goals particularly from such a large number of people world-wide whose needs are in many cases diametrically opposed.

Recently Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy, Yasuo Fukuda and even W at the beginning of his second term, all initially popular all decidedly less so in short order. As many votes as being "Mrs. Clinton" got Hillary, she also lost for being "Mrs. Clinton". Going much further back in the US, Jimmy Carter and before him Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson, all off with great expectations they were never able to meet.

It may be good to be king but its getting real tough to be a popular leader once you actually have to lead.