Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments

Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments


True Leaders in History

Lao Tzu's vision of leadership is rooted in a faith in the Tao and this faith is critical to the realisation of true leadership.

True leaders
are hardly known to their followers.
Next after them are the leaders
people know and admire;
after them, those they fear;
after them, those they despise.

To give no trust
is to get no trust.
When the work's done right,
with no fuss or boasting,
ordinary people say,
Oh, we did it.

Lao Tzu

This complex and multilayered thought from Lao Tzu is often quoted - but it is still fresh and relevant.

If it is true it means that all our histories will tend to be distorted by the greater visibility of the worst sort of leader - for the best will be invisible to historians and increasingly so over time.

It can be seen as good management advice: delegate, empower, trust...

But its truth depends upon faith in the Tao, the way, Providence. Only if we believe that morality does reflect some deeper reality will it make sense to do the right thing quietly. However, in a moral vacuum, where there is no sense to things, we can have no such faith. So we will be impelled to force things - to try and shape reality as we see it, rather than let it unfold.

Noisy leaders lack faith,
They don't trust you
They don't trust God
And they struggle to trust themselves.