Tao Leadership

Articles by Tekson Teo


I've tried to reveal the marvel of Tao leadership in the articles I write. These are some of them:

Great Leadership Starts Small

One of the biggest reasons people fail to become a good leader is that they cannot make decision.

Are You the Boss?

"I'm the Boss!" If this is what you have to say to get you people to listen to you, it does not augur well for your leadership. It’s as if having to tell your children “I'm your father!” so that they would respect you as a parent. Something is missing in the link. Read about the Tao of leadership that combines timing, space and relationship.

"Known the Unknown?"

Good leaders are clairvoyant. They seem to know the unknown. Can you be as visionary? Find out how Tao of tranquillity can help you gaze into the future and be a better leader.


Other articles:

Simplicity Leadership

Are You the Boss?

"I'm the Boss!"

Does the statement sound familiar to you? Is this what you would say to get your people to listen to you?

If it is, I'm afraid this does not augur well for your leadership. It’s as if having to tell your children “I'm your father!” so that they would respect you as a parent. Something is missing in the link.

In the definition of Lao Tzu:

"The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist.The next best is a leader who is loved and praised. Next comes the one who is feared. The worst one is the leader that is despised.

From the Tao’s perspective, leadership style at its best is so naturally that the people hardly know that the leaders exist. The people follow without thinking that they are following.

This does not mean that such leaders are always pleasing and disarming. They can be tough; or even much tougher than the other leaders. The key point is that they are able to harness the nature of their people, resulting in the people following willingly and wholeheartedly.

The best leaders know how nature works in people.

According to Tao, you can make nature works for you if the combination of three critical elements is right: Time, space and relationship. So long as one of the elements is not right, nature works against you.

Let's take timing for an example.

As a leader, there are occasions when you can get things done immediately. There are nevertheless also occasions when you simply have to wait.

You are sometimes like a hunter spotting a prey. You take out the rifle, aim, and shoot. Lo and behold, you’ve got the game! The result is immediate; because the element of timing coincides with that of space and relationship.

You are sometimes like a farmer. You till the soil, plant the seeds, water the seedlings -- and yet nothing happens.

There is no immediate result, because the timing does not coincide with the space and relationship. You will have to wait. It can be months before you can reap the fruits; while working on the other two elements – the space and relationship – to make the harvest possible when the timing becomes right.

In both cases, you will have to respect the element of timing. Whether you should act fast or wait patiently is not decided by you. It is decided by nature.

Leaders become frustrated if they don’t understand this.

Many leaders want things to happen immediately– almost yesterday – without giving room to timing, space and relationship to mature.

Remember, there are occasions when you can get your people to do what you want immediately; there are nevertheless occasions when you need to nurture the conditions and wait for the right timing. Just like a farmer would have to till the soil, water the plant in order to see the harvest; as a leader, you have to nurture the trust, build the system, and wait for the right timing to act.

If you resort to position and authority to bulldoze things through and respect no laws of nature, you may still get things done, but not the best results. You could get the green, rather than the fruit.

Only when you follow the laws of nature that your leadership will flourish!

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Know the Unknown

Good leaders are clairvoyant. They seem to know the unknown.

In fact, it is the quality of reading the future that sets good leadership apart from the bad. People look to leaders for direction. The better a leader can know the future, the better his following.

What about you? Are you a visionary leader?

You may say that you can be one, if you have a crystal ball to gaze into the future. But where on earth can you find the crystal ball.

Search no more! The crystal ball is right above your two shoulders. It is in your head. Good leaders are no sorcerers. They see the world in their minds’ eyes just like you and I. If they can see the future with clarity, so can you!

Of course, they have done something better than most, which enables them to be clairvoyant.They have clear mind!

Nurture and sharpen your mind. You will be as clear sighted.

Tao is about clear mind.

From the perspective of Tao, clear mind happens with tranquillity. It is like reflection of water. Water that is stirred cannot reflect clear image; a mind that is disturbed can not see things in perspective. The water has to be settled and calm for you to see a clear reflection; your mind has to be unruffled to reflect a vision for the future.

So the first step towards clear mind is tranquillity.

With tranquillity, you are more in tune with orders of the universe.

Then, jump out from yourself. Look at the matter not as your usual self, see it from the mind of an external you. Stay detached from the present. Cast your mind to the future -- a month, a year or years ahead -- before looking back to the present.

In the process, you may have new insights for the future that astound you.

Even if the quietude lasts only a split second, it makes a world of difference. This is how the sedate tai chi wards off mighty blows of enemies double his size. In fact, the more pressing the decision is, the more you‘ll need to resort to tranquillity.

We all have a crystal ball in us. Our sights for the future however are often marred by our ego, our eagerness and our desires. The moment when we are in tranquillity, the moment when we can let go and stay detached, our vision for the future emerges. Under such circumstances, we are more able to read the future not because of any magic power, but for the readiness to accept the laws of nature, and stay close to the reality.

It is just like what Lao Tzu says in his timeless classic Tao Te Ching:

“If you can empty your mind of all thoughts your heart will embrace the tranquillity of peace. Watch the workings of all of creation, but contemplate their return to the source.

All creatures in the universe return to the point where they began. Returning to the source is tranquillity because we submit to Heaven’s mandate.”

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