The Tao Te Ching: Verse Sixty-Five

Those of ancient times who were adept at the Tao
Used it not to make people brighter
But to keep them simple
The difficulty in governing people
Is due their excessive cleverness
Therefore, using cleverness to govern the state
Is being a thief of the state
Not using cleverness to govern the state
Is being a blessing of the state

Know that these two are both standards
Always knowing these standards
Is called Mystic Virtue
Mystic Virtue: Profound! Far-reaching!
It goes opposite to material things
Then it reaches great congruence

                                                                            Lao Tzu

The warning to anyone in any leadership position contained within this sixty-fifth verse of the Tao Te Ching is, the minute you think you are the smartest person in the room or meeting; you separate and isolate yourself from those you have committed to serve and your effectiveness as a leader will suffer.

Lao Tzu sets the bar high. He challenges those who hold leadership positions to embrace the qualities and values of a Virtuous Leader. That Core set of competencies include: integrity, humility, discernment, courage, self-control and strong sense of social justice, passion for the role of leader and identification with and compassion for those served.

It may seem that these assets should also come with a super person costume and cape however, it is possible to anchor these characteristics as a leader if you are committed to lifelong learning, personal transformation and the attainment of self-fulfillment. Leadership is and should be one of the toughest, most challenging roles anyone ever aspires to hold.

Virtuous Leaders in healthcare (there are many) are the product of an evolutionary process that no longer supports power but nurtures relationships. They have been chosen through natural selection to promote patient-centered care and care delivery through respectful, honest partnership with the employees within their organization. They innately understand that the end product of quality patient care is a direct byproduct of how professional caregivers respect and work with each other.

A Virtuous Leader resists imposing his/her beliefs and supports others as they find their way. It would be a mistake to see these courageous individuals as weak or rooted in a need to please. Rather, they are confident enough to set the standard high for everyone and promote individual responsibility, accountability and interdependence.

“Leadership is about achieving greatness by bringing out the greatness in others.”

                                                                                             Alex Harvard



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