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on December 19, 2003
I've used this book for over 10 years as my leadership support tool. As General Manager of a $200MM business, I need perspective and support on a daily basis - and Heider's book provides it. I love that the persective is NOT a management flavor of the week, but a view on leadership that stands the test of time.
I've given this book as a gift to peers, friends, and family for years - just purchased copies last week for my new staff. It provides us with a common framework and a vision of where we're taking our organization.
Thanks, Heider, for great thoughts, great lessons, and great leadership!
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on August 10, 1999
John Heider's translation is a maserpiece. He is able to thouroughly and concisely bring the important features of the Tao teachings to the lay person. The book is separated in sections which one can read on a daily basis or all in one sitting. Perhaps the most relaxing feature are the small sketches that accompany some tof the verses. This book is not just for leaders, but for everyone who wants to understand the our world and our very miniscurle and great positon in it.
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on February 13, 1998
Each page gives you a lot to think about and to reflect upon.
Don't bother with this book if you want something to give you
the quick and dirty answer, this ain't it.
But, it will get you to stop and reflect upon yourself and your effect
upon the world and others. It will get you to find your own
answers if you slow down long enough to sense them.
This book is best a few pages at a time. It can get deep if you let it.
The thing that would make this book a 10 is if it were focused a little less
on "leadership". Maybe something like; The Tao of Life.
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on August 22, 1998
Leadership is not something you are born with. Nor something you buy in the local deli. It is a life-long process of ever changing, growing, empowering others. And in the end - the best leaders are those, people around them will say "We did it ourselves." If you are ready to develop yourself into being such a leader - this is the right book for you. But be worn and remember - it will take you years to develop this unique capacity. The good thing, though, is that each and every one of us has this capacity within us. Good luck! Ronen Ben-Naphtali (Israel)
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on May 11, 2008
First, if you're looking for a straight translation of the Tao te Ching, this isn't it. If, however, you want a book that roughly translates one of the world's great texts into modern leadership language, this book is great.
Broken into simple chapters to match the Ching, it easily conveys very profound ideas for group facilitation and leadership. Like the Tao te Ching, it's emphasis is on the yin or gentler aspects of leadership. It's good to balance this with a more yang book (Good to Great, Leadership is An art, etc.) to get a rounded perspective on leadership.
However, since most leadership in Western culture is very yang oriented, this will provide a good balance and deep insights that will assist most of us in becoming better leaders.
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on March 15, 1999
Heider, John. The Tao of Leadership. Atlanta: Humanics Limited, copyright 1985.
The Tao of Leadership is a book loaded with pearls of wisdom for any person in a position of authority to make a part of their repertoire of leadership strategies. The 3 themes of this book are: 1. Natural Law, or how things happen. 2. A way of life, or how to live in conscious harmony with natural law. 3. A method of leadership, or how to govern or educate other in accordance with natural law. This author looks at various principles of living that if utilized in one's life, can lead to harmony when interacting with others. He adapted these Tao principles from the Chinese culture, and many of the principles have been incorporated into the leadership styles of political rulers and sages of the Chinese people. At first, some of the principles were difficult for me to except because the effort to apply them seemed too easy to incorporate into my responses when interacting with others. But as I practiced the Tao thought, I realized that keeping my ego out of responses to outside stimuli required balancing the application of giving and accepting without allowing myself to judge the person involved; not an easy task! This is an excellent book for those who are looking for strategies to improve their leadership skills.
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on March 22, 1998
I agree with that other guy(girl?) in that this book should be about life... not leadership. -The concepts are adapted from Lao Tzu's timeless classic; put into easily understood interpretation makes one really grasp the idea of nonresistance towards the flow of creative juices. -However, this book would be a ten if it were about life. It has been my experience that in dealing with one's own demons, one has a better understanding of another's pain. I've applied this book to both leadership situations, and daily living (though I've had to read between the lines for that).
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on December 23, 2007
This is perhaps one of the best 5 books I've ever read. Unlike typical leadership books, this one reads like a poem on each page. A short poem, rich with meaning that resonates as true.

An example - the leader's job is not to direct, but to be as quiet as a guest. What? We are all taught that the leader is a cigar-chomping, machine-gun totin', square jaw, take-no-prisoners type. Right? The Toa of Leadership invites you to adopt a different leadership style, focused first on finding balance within yourself, then illuminating others so that they can make wise decisions. The more you interfere and direct others, the less of a leader you are.

This book changed the way I thought about leadership. I continue to reflect on its lessons 10 years later, and it continues to guide my decisions. I can't say the same about 99% of the books I've read. This is a must-read book, and one you should re-read regularly.
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on December 30, 2014
I am in a Tao Teh Ching study group, and we use The Tao of Leadership as one of our interpretive sources. It is not- and doesn't pretend to be- a translation. It offers a slant on the TTC as a guide to wise group leadership, whether you are a business owner, a middle manager, or leading a TTC study group. Fortunately, the TTC is, among other things. a guide to leadership since it frequently addresses the ruler, so it lends itself to Heider's approach. His interpretations are sensitive, revealing, nuanced, and fresh. A welcome addition to the vast body of literature on the TTC.
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on February 21, 2015
Heider's work on facilitation is amazing. His interpretation of the Tao Te Ching into a beautiful new translation brings both beauty and accessibility to this ancient text written by the sage Lao Tzu around the 6th century B.C.E. Like others, this book and Heider's work have completely changed the way that I think about leadership.

I started learning about Heider's work when I began attending a group facilitated by a loving and wonderful leader who had personally worked with Heider. I loved seeing how our facilitator could keep the group moving while respecting each person. As the weeks progressed, I could see that our facilitator was practicing a type of midwifery where the leader acts as a witness and a guide to the group. The individuals within the group, as well as the group dynamic, are always respected and allowed to flourish. Yet like the master gardener, the group process is skillfully shaped and guided to where the group is able to harmonize and function at a level far greater than what could ever have been possible through simple collaboration. Each person, just like each plant or element in a garden, is respected and valued for what they bring to the group. I feel like I have only begun to scratch the surface of facilitation and group dynamics with reading this text, and I am excited to learn more.

Most of all, I feel like a big breakthrough for me is learning through Heider's work that loving-kindness and respect in a leader shows vastly more skill, self-discipline, and strength than other types of management tactics.
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