Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ancient knowledge about leadership

Last post about “Different views on leadership” discussed the differences between Western and Eastern leadership views. In searching for those dissimilarities I came across text from Spring and Autumn - Warring States, chapter Yao Yue describing discussion between Confucius and his apprentice Zi Zhang. Discussion is obviously focused on a leadership principles and attitudes:
Spring and Autumn - Warring States
Zi Zhang asked Confucius: "In what way should a person in authority act in order that he may conduct government properly?"

The Master replied: "Let him honor the five excellent, and banish away the four bad, things; then may he conduct government properly."

Zi then said: "What is meant by the five excellent things?"

The Master: "When the person in authority is beneficent without great expenditure; when he lays tasks on the people without their repining; when he pursues what he desires without being covetous; when he maintains a dignified ease without being proud; when he is majestic without being fierce."

Zi: "What is meant by being beneficent without great expenditure?"

The Master replied: "When the person in authority makes more beneficial to the people the things from which they naturally derive benefit; -- is not this being beneficent without great expenditure? When he chooses the labors which are proper, and makes them labor on them, who will repine? When his desires are set on benevolent government, and he secures it, who will accuse him of covetousness? Whether he has to do with many people or few, or with things great or small, he does not dare to indicate any disrespect - is not this to maintain a dignified ease without any pride? He adjusts his clothes and cap, and throws a dignity into his looks, so that, thus dignified, he is looked at with awe - is not this to be majestic without being fierce?"

Zi then asked: "What is meant by the four bad things?"

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Different views on leadership

Intercultural team
There are probably more studies, articles and books on “how to lead a team and building a team” than you can ever read. Therefore, I’m not going to or daring to repeat the same matters. But I would rather post a challenge - “Have you ever been a part of an international /inter-cultural team”?

If yes, what kind of experience did you get? Where there any obstacles to leadership, any misunderstanding because of different perceptions of team members coming from different cultural background? Well, I had had such an opportunity to work in and lead a multicultural environment.

In this post I would like to show and compare western approaches to team leading with eastern ones. They are so different in styles and philosophies that it is interesting to demonstrate and to share them with you.

West mostly always describes “five/seven/ten… keys to leading a team”. You are probably very much accustomed with them and have read about those as well as other instructions dealing with leading, team and expected characteristics of a leader. Most of the time authors offer some of the great (repeated) suggestions and topics shown below which are then further appropriately elaborated into strong rooted believes of properness:

  • Keep things in perspective / define the purpose of the team; 
  • Establish team objectives / focus on results and productivity; 
  • Keep the team focused / align people with the stuff they are good at or passionate about; 
  • Get the right people on-and-off the bus / demonstrate your commitment; 
  • Be a team player or allow others to shine / a leader must mobilize team members; 
  • Leading by example means following rules / leader cannot exempt himself from the rules; 
  • Leaders people will follow are accountable and trustworthy / leaders of teams take the responsibility; 
  • Characteristics of a successful leadership is to trust your people -- and let them know it;
  • Don’t provide all the answers -- make your employees think; 
  • etc.

For more please read at:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Leadership attitude

In last two posts I have written about the difference between two, many times interchanged, organizational functions that are necessary to any organization: management (To manage people) and leadership (To lead people). As there is more to both of them, here I’d like to share with you some more of my views on leadership attitudes, the ones that I consider important.

Many of you will agree that leadership is more about who the leader is than what he/she is actually doing. Therefore, we may assume that the attitude is important when influencing, impacting and leading people.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

To lead people

Leadership and followers
Have you heard of many great managers of the past? Probably much less than about great leaders. That is why “to manage” and “to lead” are two distinguishing roles. They are both needed in society and organizations.

The verb “to lead” has a great history down to the philosophical writings from Plato's Republic to Plutarch's Lives in which he explored the question “What qualities distinguish an individual as a leader?” In one of my previous posts “China’s history and culture impacting Leadership – 1 (and following ) I've written about the Far East’ perception on leadership. And what internet has to say about the verb “to lead”?

  • To show the way to by going in advance
  • To go first as a guide.

  • To direct on a course or in a direction
  • To guide someone or something along a way.

  • To go before or with to show the way; conduct or escort: to lead a group on a cross-country hike
  • To take the initiative; begin.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

To manage people

Manage tools
I've learned that the verb “to manage” comes from the Italian maneggiare (to handle, especially tools), which derives from the Latin word manus (hand). So I've searched dictionaries and Internet and come with broader definitions of the meaning of the word:

The Free dictionary:

  • To direct or control the use of; handle: manage a complex machine tool 
  • To direct the affairs or interests of: manage a company; an agency that manages performers

The Merriam Webster:

  • To have control of (something, such as a business, department, sports team, etc.)

The :

  • To dominate or influence (a person) by tact, flattery, or artifice: He manages the child with exemplary skill.
  • To handle, direct, govern, or control in action or use: She managed the boat efficiently.