19 August 2019

Effortless, Staff Self-Directed Leadership according to Han Fei Zi

Modern management ideals for today fast-changing complex world include self-directed, self-managed and self-organized teams and organization. However, such concepts were proposed by Lao Zi 2500 years ago and further explained by Han Fei Zi 250 years later. Here are the details.

Lao Zi in DaoDeJing chapter 17, see Levels of Leadership - Can We Measure Leadership? talked about the highest level of leadership being invisible leadership where no one knows who his leader was and thinks that he achieve success all by himself. This is the ideal model of today concept of self-directed, self-motivated, and self-organized teams. Lao Zi did not illustrate further how such leaderless leadership is achieved beside his main philosophical theme of Wu-Wei 无为 Non-interference Action.

250 years later, we find in Han FeiZi's work, 主道 Leadership Principles (The Way of Rulership or Kingship), more details on how it can be achieved.

I capture the key points in the following mind-map:

Building such a leaderless organization will take time. The leaders will have to spend much time building the culture and institutionalize the practices and policies and then slowly withdraw to let the system works it out.

The key points objectively measuring the plans and results and impartially giving out the rewards and punishments. With the advances in AI, we envisage the AI Driven Leadership to do that better than human beings.

Lim Liat (c) 19-9-19