There are two hexagrams in i-Ching that cover leadership styles. They are #7Army and #19Approach. The details of the hexagram are given in 07 師 Army – Mobilization & Management and 19臨 Approaching – Leadership with Integrity & Love (note – subscription is required). I will reproduce the summaries of the hexagrams here:
Summary of #7 Army – Mobilization & Management:
Leadership and Management Skills are needed to mobilize and run large organization of people. The foundational qualities of the leaders and managers are character of uprightness and integrity and the wisdom of elders. Leaders lead with vision and shared mission, and motivations. Managers execute with discipline, selection and development talents, and delegation of authorities and tasks.
Characteristics: Mission and Task Oriented. Discipline and Orders are key. Methods & Mind centric. Extrinsic Motivations. Autocratic, pushy type. Danger of ruling by fear leading to blind and passive following and sometime rebellion.
The stage lines further adds the following:
- Establish Polices and Have Discipline.
- Manage with clear Policies, Justice and Fairness
- Be Cautious. Wrong move can bring big losses. Don’t over-extend yourself.
- Learn from Failures. Re-group and start.
- Uprightness is best policy
- Rewards the Contributors. Don’t use ‘little men’ (selfish, self-centered)
Summary of #19 Approach – Leads with Integrity and Love :
Leadership and Management is about doing the right things and doing them rightly. Lead with a firm hands but be gentle in approach. Develop, plan ahead, care for and protect the interests of people. Leadership is not about self but about others. The best form of leadership is servant leadership.
Characteristics: People oriented. Intrinsic Motivation. Heart centric. Authoritative (father) kind, drawing out, encouraging, coaching. Danger of being too ‘loving’ and too ‘soft’ to spoiling the people. If done well, you get fully engaged staff and maximum performance.
The stage lines give additional teachings:
- Make an Emotional Connection. Gain the hearts.
- Connected with Enthusiastic Support and expanded influence.
- Don’t sweet talk. It does not work. Love is not giving in and spoiling them.
- Lead with complete support
- Lead with wisdom
- Lead with love
Which One is Right?
If you think you need to pick one form of leadership over the other, then you have not master the thinking of i-Ching.
If your answer is ‘it depends’ then you have good understanding of i-Ching. One may think that for large corporation or large army, then #7Army way of mission, discipline and order is more appropriate. For a small organization, the perhaps, the people centered kind of #19Approach is better.
If your answer is both and is able to point out how to use them together in time and space, then you have master the art of i-Ching. Large organization is made up of small groups. We have a configuration of people centric in small group within the mission-centric of the larger corporation. You get the alignment from top to bottom because of clear mission, discipline and accountability. You get the fully committed and engaged staff because of your love and care. You get the intrinsic motivation of giving love and freedom and the extrinsic motivation of incentives.
The master of I-Ching will tell you to do both at the same time in different space and be responsive to change. We must to be engaging and at the same time with the right methods and skills – working hard in the smart ways give you optimum result.
Comparing to modern management practices, #7Army reminds me of the Kaplan&Norton Balanced Scorecard for corporate performance management where drawing the strategic map, coming out with measures and targets, and assigning owners, cascading downwards etc that are very method oriented. The #19 Approach leadership reminds me of Ken Blanchard’s HPO (High Performing Organization) that stresses on Shared info & Open Communications, Compelling Vision, On-going Learning, Relentless Focus on Customer Results, Energizing Systems&Structure and Shared Power & High Involvement.
Both should be practiced in for creating a successful and growing organization. This is my blue-print for creating and sustaining high performance organization – integration METHODS with PEOPLE. Hope you can see the wisdom of the Ancient Chinese – 5000 years before our present day management gurus.
See also 45 萃 Congregation – Culture & Leadership. Building a strong culture can compensate for weak leadership.
Lim Liat copyrighted April 2011