My friend Szeto wrote about management lately, using Zhuge Liang as an example. (http://ccszeto.blogspot.com/2010/04/management.html). In fact, JW also loves referring to the five levels of leadership proposed by Jim Collins.
1. Highly capable individual
2. Contributing team member
3. Competent manager
4. Effective leader
5. Level 5 executive
Levels 1 to 3 are easy to comprehend. Level 4 leaders are charismatic leaders. They are often well-known to the public and peers, powerful and have strong visions. Companies usually have tremendous growth under their leadership. On the other hand, because a charismatic leader only needs a group of obedient staff who can effectively execute his/her brilliant ideas, little attention is paid to develop competent successors. Many companies suffer from significant decline after they leave.
In contrast, level 5 executive is a mixture of humility and will. Although they also have considerable will power to strive for the benefit of the company, they seldom draw attention to themselves and put emphasis on developing future leaders. From Collins’ study, companies under level 5 executives had more sustained and bigger growth.
When JW first discussed this with me, my first reaction was I had already learned this from Laozi.