This paper has the primary objective to trace the important influences and applicability/utility of Lao-Tzu, Sun Tzu and Nicolo Machiavelli's vision of leadership and their respective influence(s) on "modern" leadership theory as it pertains to the ethical culture and conduct of an organization…
The art of war, in turn, was governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one's deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field. These were: the Moral Law; Heaven; Earth; the Commander (leader) and method and discipline. The Commander (leader) stood for the virtues of wisdom, sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness. These virtues gelled perfectly with the five cardinal virtues of the Chinese philosophy i.e. humanity or benevolence; uprightness of mind; self-respect, self-control, or "proper feeling;" wisdom and sincerity or good faith. It may be observed that in contrast to the virtues enunciated for a commanding leader the virtues of "wisdom" and "sincerity" are put before "humanity or benevolence," and the two military virtues of "courage" and "strictness" are substituted for "uprightness of mind" and "self-respect, self-control, or 'proper feeling' in this civilian version. Rosenthal explains in his Tao Te Ching's translation that while a sage leader is just, thoughtful, profound, kind, sincere and aims at competence in management while ensuring even pacing of his moves; additionally a wise leader would recognize that the nature is not contrived and all that which is required to be done is to be achieved .In order to save his energies a wise leader replaces desires with dispassion and lets all actions flow through natural energy. Such a leader knows that more is still required to be done and more actions should follow but he does not let such actions rush in with deliberate intent and in fact maintains no intention. To act without contrived intent is to act without contriving,
which is natural way and the way of the Tao.As against this a Machiavellian system of governance implies being like, or befitting Machiavelli. In such a system governance acts in accordance with the principles of government analyzed in Machiavelli's The Prince, in which political expediency is placed above morality and the use of craft and deceit to maintain the authority and carry out the policies of a ruler is described. This system is characterized by subtle or unscrupulous cunning, deception, expediency, or dishonesty (The Random, 1997). Thus while the Chinese Confucianism emphasizes the virtues of honesty, justice, integrity, peace, humanity, etc. ;according to Machiavelli, if a prince always act only according to these virtues he will not last long. Machiavelli suggests that a prince at times must know how to be dishonest, when to use war for advantage, when to use tumults - even start it. Machiavelli also suggests that a prince must know how to act like a fox. Thus while Tao style of leadership and the military leadership of Sun Tzu were both essentially aligned to a positive value system based in the Chinese philosophy the Machiavellian system was contrived ,expedient and the leadership was defined to conniving, self centered and narrow and totally focused on ends rather than means. In today's competitive and globalized commercial business the modern leadership styles have evolved around the more towards the Sun Tzu and Tao systems rather than Machiavellian system; the prime reasons being that all serious businesses ...
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