The Art of Leadership: Purpose and Integrity for Sustainable Success

Introduction: How to make a difference

Erik Schön
Dec 24, 2020 · 4 min read

What is leadership? Why is this important? How do you lead successfully? The Art of Leadership provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching — a guide for leaders in ancient China. “Purpose is a surer path to productivity than pressure. Pressure keeps knocking you off the path. Purpose keeps bringing you back onto the path” Kent Beck (All Parts).

Photo: S Migaj/Unsplash

This is a modern reading of Lao Tzu’s (or Lǎozǐ, 老子) Tao Te Ching (or Dàodéjīng, 道德經, “On Purpose and Integrity”) using the glasses of the Antimatter Principle (“Attend to folks’ needs” by Bob Marshall), Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and Sun Tzu’s classic The Art of Strategy that both influenced and was influenced by Lao Tzu according to recent research.

It has inspired many people including author Ursula K. Le Guin [Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu] is the most lovable of all the great … texts, funny, keen, kind, modest, indestructibly outrageous, and inexhaustibly refreshing. Of all the deep springs, this is the purest water. To me, it is also the deepest spring”; contemporary strategist Simon Wardley (swardley): “[Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching is] the one book I’ve read every single day … it has transformed my life many times in many, many different ways” as well as Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who famously keeps a copy of the Tao Te Ching with him at all times: ”If you do not know the philosophy of Tao Te Ching, you have no chance of success.”

It is a 13 part series interpreting 81 short sections on leadership, people and how to succeed together in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world where the rate of change will never be slower than today.

Each short part gently transforms Tao Te Ching —written around 500 BC and the world’s second most read text of all time, after the Bible — into modern, crisp English and includes helpful commentary to complement and clarify Lao Tzu’s terse, poetic text. Additionally, an extensive Glossary is provided since many Chinese concepts are purposefully abstract and ambiguous.

You will discover new perspectives on the world, people and their behaviour; practical tools for avoiding and handling conflicts, and, actionable advice on how to lead strategically and effectively as well as making a difference without pressure and control.

You will also improve your understanding of China, Chinese ways of leading and strategy since Tao Te Ching is deeply ingrained in Chinese thinking, decision-making and actions.

Move beyond individual goals
towards purpose:
a higher meaning that keeps people united,
supporting each other without fear
through success and failure.

Move beyond efficiency
towards effectiveness:
maximising outcomes while minimising efforts –
in accordance with purpose.

Move beyond pressure and control
towards purposeful success.

Move beyond fixed labels and quick judgements
towards seeing with fresh eyes.

Move beyond separating heart and mind
towards integrating thoughts and feelings.

Move beyond individual wants and intents
towards attending to people’s and nature’s needs.

Move beyond resolving paradoxes and trade-offs
towards integrating opposite and complementary perspectives.

Complement the uniqueness and importance of every person
with the interdependence of people and the environment.

Move beyond optimising parts
towards harmonising the whole.

Move beyond leadership as pressure and control
towards leadership as creating conditions for self-organisation.

Move beyond leadership as a role
towards leadership-as-a-service, potentially provided by everyone.

Move beyond trying to control the waves
towards learning how to surf.

The Art of Leadership is
securing harmony among people and nature,
through purpose and integrity
and evolving our capabilities to see, think, feel and adapt.

Find your purpose, follow your path …

Acclaim for The Art of Leadership

“A beautifully deep exploration of leadership based on a modern interpretation of my favorite Chinese classic, the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.” Rod Leaverton

“This is powerful, this is for practical people struggling with business goals.” Goran Skugor

The Art of Leadership: All Parts

Contents: A very short summary of all parts
Introduction: How to make a difference

Glossary: Explanation of key terms
Acknowledgements: Standing on the shoulders of giants
Sources: Where to learn more

An Idea (by Ingenious Piece)

Everything Begins With An Idea