When reading the Taoism: Leadership Insights from Nature I thought of several metaphors from nature that are a useful insight into leadership. For example, trees have hundreds of roots under the earth that hold the structure of the tree together. The largest tree in the forest must have the healthiest and strongest roots underneath the surface, supporting the branches and leaves of the tree. The community a leader has to support and guide them are like the roots underneath a tree to hold it up. if the roots of a tree die, the tree cannot survive, like if a leader loses their community, they will not become successful. This tree metaphor is great when thinking about leadership and how a leader must secure a good and healthy base of followers and a community. This also makes me think of interpersonal relationships, democratic leadership, and transformational leaders and how I believe that to be a great leader, one must be aware of others and be intentional with their relationship with followers.
Having divorced parents, I grew up with two different sides of religion. My dad raised me as a Christian, I was baptized, I went to church with him every other Sunday, and I had communion. My mother was not religious but believed in spirituality and a set of morals to live by, if my mother was to conform to one religion she always liked Buddhism and the loving nature of its practice. Not only were my parents giving me different perspectives of religion, but I found out when I was 10 years old that my outer family was Jewish, and that I technically am as well. My great grandmother on my mother’s side was born and raised with Judaism before she passed away when my grandmother was a baby. My grandmother’s father then remarried into a typical Italian Catholic family, moved his family to America, and converted all his children to Christianity. So, as one can see, religion has some history in my family, but I remain agnostic and not totally sure what I believe in.
Taoist leadership principles do pop up in the Christian religion that I am most familiar with, especially the idea that one should be humble and simple if they wish to come out on top. The phrase, “let the line shine in” comes to mind with this ideology, and the idea that you flow with what the world gives you and make peace with how life is. As a leader, this comes in handy when making decisions for a group and having back up plans to adjust oneself with how the world is playing out. At the same time though, a drastic difference I notice is the idea of wanting leaders to be weak in the Taoist belief, while in Christianity I think the norm is to be strong in your leadership to show others to the path of life. For example, I think the Christians would rather see life through the yang spectrum while the Taoist prefer the Yin.
The biggest parallel I see between the Taoist approach to leadership and other leadership theories is the importance of democracy, and patience and the idea that nature cannot be rushed. A democratic leader will take the time to listen to all members and determine the best course of action through their respectful listening and patience. In Taoism, the belief of nature cannot be rushed but takes its own course is much like democracy and the slowness of making the best decision.