Review of “Big & Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition”
As I reflect on the materials at this website dedicated to a discussion of leadership I find it to be extremely well articulated, balanced and almost comprehensive website when I test it against both my own experience and the literature that has most influenced me in the cultivation of my own skill-set as a manager.
The first book that comes to my mind is Tolstoy’s monumental, “War and Peace.” Unfortunately, my collection of Tolstoy is in Holland so I cannot quote him today. For those unfamiliar with Tolstoy’s novel, in his study of the life of Napoleon, was the first to debunk the “trait theory of leadership.’ Tolstoy’s penetrating historical study of leadership led him to the conviction that leaders are formed in response to the process of history unfolding, i.e., Napoleon, as history finally proved, was not the genius nor the messiah, that many of his contemporaries first thought him to be. I am mindful here of the fact the Beethoven originally dedicated his famous third symphony, the Eroica, to Napoleon, but later ‘scribbled out’ the dedication on the original score. The quote that comes to mind here is,
“The many become one and are increased by one.” –Alfred Whitehead1
Hierarchy is inherit in nature at all levels. In fact emergence or evolution is always in the process of creating the next prototype.
The second book that comes to my mind is the “Tao Te Ching” attributed to a sage whom history calls Lao Tzu. While Tolstoy compels its readers to doubt the belief that leaders are born, Lao Tzu teaches that leadership is cultivated. “The Tao Te Ching” Lao Tzu has been my ‘Leadership Bible” for my entire career. There is nothing at this website that is not discussed more profoundly in the eighty-one sutras of Lao Tzu. I have given more copies of Lao Tzu in my life than I can even begin to recall. Lao Tzu is, in fact, a cultural reincarnation of Arjuna in the Bhagavagita, the oriental concept of ‘The Sacred Warrior.’
“Therefore the best leaders set an example by
Emptying her mind
Opening her heart
Relaxing her ambitions
Relinquishing her desires
Cultivating her c.haracter
Having conquered her own cunning and carvings’
She can’t be manipulated by anyone.” Sutra 3 (p.3)2
Ironically, the fact that Lao Tzu remains revered as the foundational “great teacher’ of Oriental culture along with Confucius and subsequently Siddartha Gautama as The Buddha, argues for, not against, the ‘trait theory of leadership. In Occidental, we perceive a similar paradox when we think of the names of the likes of Socrates, Jesus of Nazareth or Maimonides not to exclude Tolstoy from the club! How do we resolve this paradox, for it is evident the “trait theory of leadership” and the ‘process theory of leadership’ are both correct? It is not a question of either, but of both.
The third book that comes to mind is Don Beck’s, “Spiral Dynamics3 .” Spiral dynamics is no longer a theory but a discipline that has tunneled into other disciplines. As a manager I systematically use tools like the “McQuaid Word Survey”4 as a manager tool to stimulate collective introspection in the board room with the goal of turning liabilities or weaknesses on a team into assets or strengths (SWOT) Spiral dynamics illustrates that in any given construct a charismatic leader, i.e., a genius, will emerge based on his personality profile. Current advances in neurology also indicate that some personality traits such as stubbornness are the result of a neuron deficiency in the brain. Einstein is the most notable modern example in the scientific community. His brain has been scanned and studied and it does in fact display certain anomalies deviant from the norm. Einstein, incidentally, once famously said,
“Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.”5
As a manager of manager and a spiritual director, I have resolved and reduced this paradox for myself as a part of what I call the triplicity inherent in any dynamic holon or process. In terms of inter-personal relationship, a fluidity must exist for if the integrity of the holon or construct is be maintained and synergy harnessed Lao Tzu teaches that the highest goodis like water (p.10). In every relationship we enter into, we are each of us triplicate: We are The Seeker, The Teacher and The Redeemer. As students in this course we are all Seekers. As such, we are teaching the teacher how to be The Teacher. More rarely we find ourselves “paying it forward’ by being The Redeemer. An example of the Redeemer is Socrates who is often given credit for having been the first to say, “Gnothi Seauton” (Know Thyself). The great leader is fluidity, he understands what jazz musicians mean when they say they found ‘the zone.’ (I am both a classical and jazz pianist.) She (Lao Tzu emphasized the heart over the mind, so she) is virtuous who plays herself knowing herself as The Seeker Seeking, The Teacher Teaching and The Redeemer Redeeming. Another why to think of this is as Father (mind), Mother (heart) and Golden Child (imagination).
“Something is there hidden in the deep.
But whose child it is I do not know–
It came even before God. –Lao Tzu (Sutra 4, p.4)
Interesting, a similar perspective seems to found in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth,
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.6” –Matthew 8:13
And this all this is something to critically think about!
Mark Christopher Valentine
2 Walker, Brian Browne,. “The Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu.” New York: Saint Martin’s Press,1995
(© 22 October 2012, published at dafreewhitewolfe.wordpress.com)