Purpose and Integrity for Sustainable Success in Turbulent Times

The Art of Leadership: Contents

A very short summary of all parts

Erik Schön
Published in
3 min readDec 24, 2020


Photo: Jordan McGee/Unsplash

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 sustainable success in turbulent times. Other reading formats.

This text is more similar to the hypertext of the internet than linear texts such as books. It is an entangled web of connections rather than a single thread of thought. To help untangle this, the illustration below shows how key capabilities and sections relate to each other as well as stakeholders’ needs.

A reader’s guide to The Art of Leadership. CC BY-SA 4.0 by (content) and Simon Wardley/ (structure)

Contents: A very short summary of all parts (3 min read)

Introduction: How to make a difference (5 min read)

Sections 1–6: Purpose (10 min read)
Guide to the essence. Beyond labels and opposites. Living peacefully. Purpose. Straw dogs, bellows and balance. Nourishing purpose.

Sections 7–13: Attending to Needs (7 min read)
Attending to people’s needs. Being like water. Accomplish and withdraw. Respectful intent. Emptiness brings usefulness. Belly over eyes. Beyond yourself.

Sections 14–19: We Did It Ourselves (6 min read)
Beyond grasping. Beyond knowing. Returning to the roots. We did it ourselves. Without purpose. Plain silk and uncarved wood.

Sections 20–23: Grasping the Whole (6 min read)
Daring to unlearn. Great effectiveness. Grasping the whole. Flowing with purpose.

Sections 24–30: Self-Organisation (8 min read)
Following purpose. Self-organisation. Balancing. Self-knowledge. Returning to simplicity. Intent to control will fail. Avoiding pressure and control.

Sections 31–37: Knowing Yourself (6 min read)
A great victory is a funeral. Knowing when to stop. Knowing yourself. Flow. A great vision. Subtle insights. Transformed.

Sections 38–43: Effectiveness (9 min read)
Effectiveness. Wholeness. Returning. Without laughter. Shady and sunny. Water and stone.

Sections 44–49: What is Enough? (5 min read)
Knowing what is enough. Flawed perfection. Knowing enough. Succeeding without pressure and control. Unlearning. Integrity is compassion and trust.

Sections 50–55: Integrity (5 min read)
Truly set on living. Integrity. Back to the beginning. Thieves’ purpose. Well planted, well embraced. The baby’s integrity.

Sections 56–61: Living with Change (6 min read)
Beyond love and hate. Conditions for self-organisation. Living with change. Leading motherly. Cooking small fish. Lying low.

Sections 62–66: Serving Without Interference (8 min read)
Caring for all. Serving without interference. Minor changes, major consequences. Going with the flow. Going lower.

Sections 67–73: Effectiveness Without Contending (8 min read)
Compassion, frugality, modesty. Effectiveness without contending. Moving without formation. Unprincipled knowing. To think you know. Feeling safe. Brave caution.

Sections 74–81: Balancing (9 min read)
Fearing death. Respecting life. Real strength. Balance. The softest succeeds. Harmonising hatred. Freedom. Learning beyond principles.

Glossary: Explanations of key terms (27 min read)

Acknowledgements: Standing on the shoulders of giants (4 min read)

Sources: Where to learn more (6 min read)

Other Reading Formats: Hardcover, paperback and PDF

This is provided as Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International by the author,




Erik Schön

From hacker, software researcher, system engineer to leader, executive, strategizer. Writer: #ArtOfChange #ArtOfLeadership #ArtOfStrategy http://yokosopress.se