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Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu

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Published by: Jessica R. Dreistadt on Aug 31, 2012
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SYNTHESIS PAPER #4: LAO TZU1Synthesis Paper #4: Lao TzuJessica R. DreistadtLEAD 710 Historical Perspectives of Organizational LeadershipEastern UniversityOctober 16, 2010
According to the
Tao te Ching 
, leadership should be based on trust, humility, openness, andharmony in accordance with the way of the universe. It provides an eastern perspective based onthe belief that all life is interconnected and that a natural flow is superior to human intervention.Generally speaking, this text may be perceived as counter-intuitive, paradoxical, ironic, or evenconflicting in the competitive, individualistic west. The wisdom of the
Tao te Ching 
can beaccessed by those who question its validity by analyzing it through the lens of current westernleadership theory. Specifically, we can understand the
Tao to Ching 
through a political frame, thestyle approach to leadership, and authentic leadership.
Application of Bolman and Deal
Tao te Ching 
is written through the lens of a political frame though it is strictly non- political in nature. One of the assumptions of the political frame described in Bolman and Deal isthat “goals and decisions emerge from bargaining and negotiation among competing stakeholders jockeying for their own interests” (2008, 195). The
Tao te Ching 
acknowledges this dynamicamong leaders and postulates that this modality is not in harmony with the Tao. Instead, leaderscan orchestrate change by removing themselves and their agendas. Power is derived from the Taorather than from social relationships and institutions. Rather than being on the frontlines engagedin action, leaders should allow workers to do their jobs and citizens to live their lives. To interferein this way is to commit violence against the nature of the Tao. Lao Tzu explains this libertarianapproach to leadership:A sage has said, 'I will do nothing (of purpose), and the people will be transformed of themselves; I will be fond of keeping still, and
SYNTHESIS PAPER #4: LAO TZU3the people will of themselves become correct. I will take no troubleabout it, and the people will of themselves become rich; I willmanifest no ambition, and the people will of themselves attain tothe primitive simplicity (World Library, 1996, 57:3).Leaders manifest that which they envision and act toward; expecting followers to be dependent,and taking action based on this belief, will lead to a dependent, even despondent, citizenry. Rather than lead through coercion and manipulation, leaders can attune to the Tao and allow life to unfold.Competition is unhealthy; there is a natural process that leads to balance among divergent factions.
Application of Northouse
The style approach to leadership is based on “what leaders do and how they act”(Northouse, 2009, 69). In order to work in concert with the Tao, the leader must remove her or himself from the process and the rewards of achievement. Western theorists might call the
Tao teChing 
's approach to leadership “impoverished management;” in this style the leader is “uninvolvedand withdrawn” (Northouse, 74). Through introspection, a leader can become closer to the Tao.“Without going outside his door, one understands (all that takes place) under the sky; withoutlooking out from his window, one sees the Tao of Heaven. The farther that one goes out (fromhimself), the less he knows” (World Library, 47:1). It is the Tao that is powerful, not individualleaders. We are the physical expression of Tao, if we allow it to be. “The Tao produces (allthings), nourishes them, brings them to their full growth, nurses them, completes them, maturesthem, maintains them, and overspreads them” (World Library, 51:3). The style described in the
Tao te Ching 
also embodies elements of authentic leadership, in particular the four componentsidentified by Walumbwa and associates: “self-awareness, internalized moral perspective, balanced

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