Most of the world’s wisdom is not about leadership, or even management. It is about how to live. All else – such things as leadership included – was subordinated to the achievement of a right life. Doing what had to be done to oneself to attain a good or virtuous (competent) life was the primary consideration.
It was assumed that if a high degree of self-discipline could be attained, all else would be undertaken and carried out to the advantage of the larger society.
We Westerners seem to believe that becoming a leader is all that’s required, independent of how virtuous a person you are. In the view of the many and varied wisdoms of the world, this would be considered a formula for disaster. It was not the leadership that mattered. It was the quality of the person who was called upon to take up that role.
It’s a matter of which comes first. Having been called to a leadership position does not thereby ensure a virtuous implementation of that position – as we have seen all too well, and far too often in our modern world.
Falling into parenthood as a result of falling in love does not make one an exemplary parent, or even an adequate one. For the same reasons, falling into a leadership position out of a lust for it does not transform a person into an exemplary leader. Confucius believed that the qualities that would make one an exemplary leader have to precede. You cannot learn the philosophy of life you need on-the-job. It’s too late to get yourself into shape once you’re in the ring.
-Lee Thayer, Thought-Leader