29 May 2012

4 Basic and 5 Orientation Principles of Leadership from I-Ching

Leadership is not a simple one-sided affair of either being task oriented boss or people-oriented leader. It is holding multiple factors in tension and the right balance depending on the people and the situations. I-Ching gives us at least 9 factors for our consideration. They are innovation, loving nurturing, integrity, humility, mission centric, people-centric, diversities centric, cultural centric and talents centric.

Many people are overwhelmed by i-Ching 64 hexagrams. Without a good understanding, they resort to lot-casting to get a forecast for their future and to get some guidance. That is not the right way to use the wisdom of i-Ching. For the right way see The Right Way to Consult I-Ching.

This is the 2nd in a series of posts that regroup I-Ching hexagrams into major grouping for ease of understanding and applications. The first is Relationship Building According to I-Ching.

4 Basic and 5 Orientation Leadership Principles
A leader is someone who is able to motivate a group of people to accomplish shared mission together. It involves setting mission, visions, and values. It involves working, motivating, coaching and relating to people. It involves organizing them and assigning tasks according to their strengths. It allows a diversity of strengths to work harmoniously to accomplish the goals in the most effective and efficient manner. Leadership is not an either choice of being a people-centric coach-type leader or an autocratic slave-driving boss. It is a careful analysis of the people, mission and situations and a dynamic application of principles to get the different people to work towards a common goal. 

This is best shown in the mind-map below:


First Principle: 01乾 Heaven - Creative Power & Innovate without end
Leadership begins with taking an initiative creating a mission and a series of visions. It is an endless effort of innovating and realizing vision after vision for endless growth. Leaders that fail to innovate and keep up with changes will be retired. One should raise up the 2nd generation and hand over before one retires. The details of the 6-stage life-cycle of a leader in given in the Hexagram Heaven. 

Second Principle:   02坤 Earth - Receptive Love, Nurture, and Multiply
The second principle is to accept, love, nurture, and care for your people and assets including your environment. Nurturing and care will give the multiplication for growth. Any initiative taken by principle 1 will need to be accepted, carefully implemented, refined and optimized over time. 

Third Principle:   61中孚  Integrity - Create Right Bonding
The foundation of any relationship is Integrity. It is more than just being honest. It is about being accountable and delivering our promises. In an opened, transparent and accountable environment will we have good relationships and effectiveness. Office politics, gossips, and misunderstanding will be kept to a minimum in such environment.

Fourth Principle: 15謙 Humility - Ability with Gentleness
In this world of greater complexity and speed of change, what we know can be easily obsoleted. CEOs are not longer the know all. Humility should be one of the greatest strength that leaders should have. Humility is not saying we cannot when we can. That is false humility or even evading responsibility. I-Ching's concept of humility is about ability covered with gentleness. it is having the ability and resource and not boasting about them. When the situations call for it, humility requires that we come out and serve, giving our best. But we serve with gentleness and we don't fight for recognition or to seek the glory. When a mission is accomplished, we quietly withdraw. Learning, and learning without end, is the attitude of humility because as we know more, we come to realize that there are more to learn. We can learn from anyone, anytime and anywhere. 

Fifth Principle: 07師 Army - Mobilization & Tasks Centred Leadership
When need to mobilize large forces and to scale up quickly, we know we need a clear mission, laws and orders, and strict discipline. We can be strict and yet still be loving. There is not conflict. In I-Ching, we learn to hold multiple factors in tension and in balance. We need to change the balance when the situation and the people (especially their development and growth) changes. So we don't take these principles are mutually exclusive but hold them in tension and balance according to the situation.

Sixth Principle:  19臨 Approach - People-Centered Servant Leadership
This principle reminded that people are the key in an organization or team. It also tells us that people are not machine or dogs without dignity. Engaging people in any work requires us to serve them well so that they can in term serve others well. 

Seventh Principle: 38睽 Deviation - Synergizing Differences, Diversity Leadership
This principle tells  us that the people that we have are not the same. Each has his own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes and they have a different background. We need to thank them for the diversities that they bring. Synergy comes from the integration of different strengths. In this globalization, diverse cultures, races, and religions are brought together. This ability to appreciate differences and harmonizing them to work together will be most important. The study of Adaptive Complex Systems tells us that diversities bring stability of endless innovation and growth. 

Eight Principle: 45萃 Congregation - Cultural Leadership
Any organization is a congregation of people of different varieties. We need to create the environment, and namely, the culture for them to relate well and work together. Principle 7 points out the diversities whereas this principle points out the need to work together happily.

Ninth Principle: 50鼎 Caldron -Talents Leadership & Matching Jobs to People
This principle tells that we need to search and bring in the talents. Even tough talents are important, one's character is even more so. it tells us to have principles centered and the sharing of rewards. It also tells us that we need to manage the talents well by ensuring that the jobs and the talents match. Assign A level people to A level jobs. Assigning an A-level person to a C-level job will demotivate him and causes one to misunderstand his ability or losing him to other organization. 

It is important to remind ourselves once again that we need to hold all these 9 factors in tension. Innovation without execution will fail. Execution alone without innovation will also fail as the market shifts to other products. Tasks oriented without concern about people will get the minimum from the people. Yet people-centered only without mission will be just a good social gathering not accomplishing much. Not appreciating diversities and congregation at the same time will end in infighting and decline of the organization.


Follow this Series:
Previous:Making I-Ching Come Alive! The Key Principles & Applications
Next:Control & Management Principles according to I-Ching

Lim Liat (C) 29 May 2012
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