This blog is an interpretation of the Tao te Ching "Tao Virtue Book" which is attributed to Laozi "Lao Tze" a Chinese philosopher who lived circa 600 b.c.

Please remember always that this is the description of the Tao and not the experience of the living Tao. Hopefully, this blog will not serve as analysis or commentary but as a window into the Tao. You are encouraged to disagree with this interpretation, involve yourself in self-study, and ultimately leave all concepts behind and so experience the living Tao.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Understanding The Tao te Ching Chapter 17: Leadership and Faithfulness


When great men rule, subjects know little of their existence. Rulers who are less great win the affection and praise of their subjects. A common ruler is feared by his subjects, and an unworthy ruler is despised.

When a ruler lacks faith, you may seek in vain for it among his subjects.

How carefully a wise ruler chooses his words. He performs deeds, and accumulates merit! Under such a ruler the people think they are ruling themselves.

Dao de Ching Chapter 17


This is perhaps the clearest advise on leadership offered in the Tao te Ching.  it is most easily accessed in the second stanza.  The message, "if you do not trust others, they will not trust you," is very true inside and outside of the issue of leadership.  If the trust those we lead we find ourselves studying the first and third stanza.  When a leader provides only the framework and gentle nudges in the right direction, then the lead feel ownership of what they accomplish.  This gives them a feeling of worth and a desire to see the work completed in an excellent manner.   The advantage of people who believe they are ruling themselves is the quality of the work they perform.  

The benefits for the leader is followers who willingly participate and do not need supervision and punishment.

The Servant Leadership movement has made the observation that, when leaders seek to remove obstacles from their workers rather than manage their workers, the worker is self-motivated to move into the opening created for them; the essence of this chapter.
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