30 October 2010

The Principles for Greatness: #2 Influencing Others & Controlling Self

Continue from the previous post The Principles for Greatness: #1 Know Others & Self, we discuss the 2nd pair of phrases,
Mastering others is power and authority.
Self-control is true strength.

How Do We Influence Others? By Pressure of Fear or Willingness?

To control, or influence others, we need strength. But what kind of strength can we use? In time of war, we speak of the strength of our army and weapons.  In business organizations of today, we can influence others through the positions we hold, or the knowledge we have, or the incentives system we give. We can threaten to fire them if they don’t follow what we say. These are external power we are given to drive people by fear or by greed. They are extrinsic motivators. They are effective as long as some one is watching. A more powerful force is intrinsic motivators.  They follow us not because for fear but because they want to. They have trust in us, the leaders, and they share the vision and mission that we are leading them to accomplish.This kind of influence on others can only come when we first show them that we can control ourselves.

Leadership Begins with Self, Self-Control
It is a widely known saying, “We have found the enemy and he is us!”.  How much regrets we have in life?  If only I have kept my shut. If only I can control my temper. If only I have done this earlier instead of procrastinating, etc. etc.  Lao Zi had rightly stated that it is great strength to control others but it is greater strength to control oneself. When we can control ourselves, then we truly lead others. Our influence on others is not by force, but by drawing them to us through our examples.  They follow us that they become what we are – mastery over self.  Confucius says, 《论语· 雍也》篇:“夫仁者,己欲立而立人,己欲达而达人。能近取譬,可谓仁之方也已。The wise man must be able to stand, to be independent first and then help others to be independent. He must be able to be reach his goals so as to help others to reach theirs.  He can learn from those near him. This is the way of the love and caring.

Changing Others Come from Changing Ourselves First
It is typical that when we want others to change their behavior, we give them advices and even threats. But they are not very successful. It often creates the opposite effects and the bad behavior becomes worse. The advice given here is to change ourselves first, especially in the way we treat them. After some time, they will notice and believe our change and will change correspondingly according to how we treat them better. If you are still wondering and struggling as to who should change first, then let me ask you whether you are the leader or the follower. Leader takes the lead and change first.

In summary, when we are able to master over ourselves, changing ourselves first, then we can influence others by the greater force of willingness to follow rather than by fear of punishment or fear of loosing the incentives. We are freed from the needs to constantly monitor and micro manage our staff since they are self motivated, self-directed and self-managed. This is one of the key concept of Lao Zi’s Management without Effort (无为而治)。

The Four Principles for Greatness
  1. The Principles for Greatness: #1 Know Others & Self 
  2. The Principles for Greatness: #2 Influencing Others & Controlling Self
  3. The Principles for Greatness: #3 Contented Yet Be Better 
  4. The Principles for Greatness: #4 Be Yourself & Leaving a Legacy
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