Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | July 30, 2010

7 Rules of Taoist Leadership

There are 7 rules to leadership according to taoist principles. “To lead others toward the good, one must purify one’s own character.” This is from hexagram 45 of the I Ching, Ts’ui. In order to “further what is good and true” for the world and for humanity, people have to work together as a collective. “The tremendous power of human collectives must be directed by a qualified leader.” What makes a qualified leader in the taoist sense?

1. First, gather within yourself proper principles. Honesty, integrity, authenticity, balance, perseverence, fortitude, modesty, fairness. A leader should be a person of upright moral character.

2. Develop good gong fu–knowing what to do. A leader should be knowledgable, experienced, and wise.

3. A leader should have a clear mission and clearly communicate that mission, and carry it out with integrity. The mission or endeavor itself should be a mision of truth and integrity, for the good.

4. Engender love and loyalty in your people. Those who rule by fear and manipulation and control and exploitation may have gains in the short term, but when it really counts, his people will abandon him when they have a chance. Look out for your people. Be fair. Like tai chi, be soft on the outside and firm on the inside. Admonish when you have to, praise when you can.

5. Do what you are supposed to do to get a job done, but don’t try to manipulate, control or force events and situations. Allow the creative to work. Allow things to arrange themselves.

6. A leader has courage and is brave in the face of danger. A leader steps up to the plate. He is the go to guy. He stands up for others and protects others. He is, well, a leader!

7. A leader understands change is constant. He is adaptable, intuitive, can anticipate. He knows “the box” and knows how to think outside it. He is creative and spontaneous.

The I Ching says, “Improve yourself into the kind of person you yourself would follow wholeheartedly and without hesitation. Learn to accept the natural progress that occurs when you act with proper principles, and seek no progress at the expense of those principles.”

Also, “those who belong together will come together naturally. Be sincere and let the Creative do the work.”

(all quotes and excerpts from the Brian Browne Walker edition of the I Ching)



  1. Thank you for the information. I would like to ask about the Value of leadership in Taoism teaching.


  2. In my book, the best leaders are those who aren’t trying to lead. Because of the content and virtue within their character, people simply line up behind them.

    • I think I agree. I’ve always felt leaders had it or they didn’t. In corporate training years ago, they tried to feed us this line of bull that you may not be able to make a natural leader, but you could have people mimic leadership behaviors. While it makes sense to have a level of expectation and rules of behavior, how can you codify these qualities? I don’t think you can. And let’s not forget, too, that it also takes great skill to be a follower.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: