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Daoism and Leadership Development. Donald Davis Old Dominion University and Tidewater Tai Chi Center [email protected]

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daoism and leadership development

Daoism and Leadership Development

Donald Davis

Old Dominion University and

Tidewater Tai Chi Center

[email protected]

Paper presented as part of the symposium, Daoist Leadership Education (Dan Murray, chair), presented at the Sixth International Conference on Daoist Studies, Daoism Today: Science, Health and Ecology, Los Angeles, June 2-6, 2010.

individuals and organizations
Individuals and Organizations
  • Organizations are created because individual effort is insufficient to achieve many goals
  • Organizations face unprecedented challenges today:
    • Global integration
    • Technological innovation
    • Extent and rate of change
    • Enormous complexity
  • Competitive pressures strain systems and encourage bad behavior, e.g, Enron, BP, Goldman Sachs
why should daoists care about organizations davis 2007
Why Should Daoists Care About Organizations? (Davis, 2007)
  • “The Way fills the entire world. It is everywhere that people are, but people are unable to understand this.” (Roth, 1999, p. 116)
  • Almost everyone has to work in an organization
  • Organizations can be source of happiness, meaningfulness, and personal growth
  • Healthy and effective organizations enable people to be healthy and effective
  • Dysfunctional and unhealthy organizations disable people and make them dysfunctional and sick
  • Leaders and leadership exert a strong influence
  • Leading is a form of spiritual practice and self-cultivation
leader vs leadership
Leader vs. Leadership
  • Leader: one who has the individual skills and abilities to encourage performance in others—what we usually think of: Gandhi, Buddha, Churchill, Mother Theresa
  • Leadership: the collective capacity of all organizational members to engage effectively in leadership roles and processes–a resource (qi) in the system not just in individuals
why should daoists care about leaders and leadership davis 2007
Why Should Daoists Care About Leaders and Leadership? (Davis, 2007)
  • Healthy and effective organizations require healthy and effective leaders
  • Leadership of self is a form of self-cultivation
  • Leadership of others is a way to serve others, to act as a “catalyst of goodness,” important role of the sage (shengren) (Kohn, 2001, p. 25)
daoism and leadership
Daoism and Leadership
  • Leadership is important in Daoism, e.g., Laozi, Zhuangzi, Huainanzi
  • Advice to leaders is often vague and difficult to enact—How does one use wuwei or ziren to encourage others to work together to achieve organizational goals?
  • Daoist ideas concerning integration of body/mind/spirit achieved through practices such as ethics, meditation, qigong, and taijiquan are relevant to modern leadership training
what we know about leadership avolio et al 2009 day 2000 den hartog et al 1999 judge piccolo 2004
What We Know about Leadership(Avolio et al., 2009; Day, 2000; Den Hartog et al., 1999; Judge & Piccolo, 2004)
  • Leader traits and skills—intelligence, personality, positive outlook, honesty, authenticity, self-awareness, self-regulation, relationship building, manage change
  • Leadership style—charisma (shared vision and values), idealized influence (positive role model), inspirational motivation (provide sense of meaning and challenge), intellectual stimulation (encourage innovation), individualized consideration (satisfy follower’s needs for achievement and growth), contingent reward, non-laissez-faire (take action)
  • Quality of leader/follower relationship, e.g., trust, integrity, support, authenticity
  • Leadership development and training significantly increases leader and leadership effectiveness (61% - 189% average return on investment depending on level of leader)
daoism and leadership development8
Daoism and Leadership Development
  • Encourages discovery of unconditioned “true self”
  • Leader, through living his/her life, shows others the advantages of living in harmony with the Dao
  • Offers effective methods for developing self-awareness and self-regulation through meditation, qigong, taijiquan, and qi cultivation and balance
  • Offers effective methods to enhance harmony in relationships and manage change and contradictions; leader serves as calm pivot point (taiji) in midst of change
  • Provides set of ethical principles
  • These are characteristics of authentic leadership
universal positive leadership attributes in 62 nations den hartog et al 1999
Universal Positive Leadership Attributes in 62 Nations (Den Hartog et al., 1999)
  • Positive
  • Trustworthy
  • Just
  • Encouraging
  • Motivating
  • Honest
  • Dependable
  • Confidence builder
  • Foresight
universal negative leadership attributes in 62 nations den hartog et al 1999
Universal Negative Leadership Attributes in 62 Nations (Den Hartog et al., 1999)
  • Ruthless
  • Self-centered, ego-centric
  • Irritable
  • Loner
  • Non-cooperative
  • Autocratic, dictatorial
qualities of authenticity
Qualities of Authenticity
  • Honest
  • Virtuous
  • Trustworthy
  • Transparent, not manipulative
  • Self-aware
  • Self-referential
  • Self-cultivating
  • Self-regulating
  • Positive emotions: Optimistic, hopeful, content, joyous
  • Inside is the same as the outside; acting in accord with one’s true self
authentic leadership and daoist virtues 10 precepts of wisdom adapted from kohn 2004
Authentic Leadership and Daoist Virtues (10 Precepts of Wisdom)(adapted from Kohn, 2004)
  • Pure heart; reserved in speech
  • Benevolent, compassionate, loving to all
  • Yield and disregard self to support others
  • Do not give free rein to your mind, be prudent
  • Tell the truth without flowery or ornate words
  • Harmonize your qi and inner nature; don’t diminish your spirit or drink too much
  • Don’t contend for merit or fame; be retiring and withdrawing; put yourself last
  • Do not criticize or debate spiritual or sagely texts *
  • Don’t quarrel, create confusion, or criticize others
  • Have an even and unified mind and be harmonious with others
daoist direction for leadership development davis 2003
Daoist Direction for Leadership Development (Davis, 2003)
  • Clarity, clear reflection of situation
  • Be authentic (ziran)
  • Effortless action with right timing (wuwei)
    • Don’t resist
    • Don’t insist
    • Don’t desist
  • Cultivate body/mind/spirit together
model of daoist leadership training and development adapted from davis kohn 2009
Model of Daoist Leadership Training and Development (adapted from Davis & Kohn, 2009)
  • Lectures on Daoist principles and practices with clear learning objectives and proper sequencing
  • Meditation and cultivation of awareness of self and others; self-awareness, self-regulation
  • Body practices, e.g., qigong, taijiquan
  • Opportunities to practice authenticity and virtue with timely feedback
  • Spontaneity through creative expression, e.g., art, poetry
  • Food and diet; leadership is embodied
  • Leaders and leadership are important
  • Leadership can be developed and trained effectively
  • The emphasis of Daoism on self-awareness and self-regulation through integration of body/mind/spirit provides a means for fostering effective leadership, especially authentic leadership
  • Leaders, by enacting Daoist principles, can be the “catalyst of goodness” in organizations and society
  • As a result, organizations and society can become healthy, whole, and balanced
  • Avolio, B.J., Reichard, R.J., Hannah, S.T., Walumbwa, F.O., & Chan, A. (2009). A meta-analytic review of leadership impact research: Experimental and quasi-experimental studies. Leadership Quarterly, 20, 764-784.
  • Davis, D.D. (2003). The Tao of leadership in virtual teams. Organizational Dynamics, 33, 47-62.
  • Davis, D.D. (2007). The Sage at work: Daoism and authentic leadership. Paper presented at the 4th International Conference on Daoist Studies, Hong Kong, China, November 23-25, 2007.
  • Davis, D.D., & Kohn, L. (2009, Winter). Dao at the beach: Searching for the Dao in daily life. Empty Vessel, 10-13, 20.
  • Day, D. V. (2001). Leadership development: A review in context. Leadership Quarterly, 11, 581-613.
  • Den Hartog, D.N., House, R.J., Hanges, P.J., Ruiz-Quinanilla, S.A. (1999). Culture specific and cross-culturally generalizable implicit leadership theories: Are attributes of charismatic/transformational leadership universally endorsed? Leadership Quarterly, 10, 219-256.
  • Judge, T.A., & Piccolo, R.F. (2004). Transformational and transactional leadership: A meta-analytic test of their relative validity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 755-768.
  • Kohn, L. (2001). Daoism and Chinese culture. Cambridge: Three Pines Press.
  • Kohn, L. (2004). Cosmos and community: The ethical dimension of Daoism. Cambridge, Mass.: Three Pines Press.
  • Roth, H. (1999). Original Tao: Inward training. NY: Columbia University Press.