Daily Management Review

culture and leadership: The taoïst leader


This article has been written in collaboration with Laurent Chateau (1), specialist in Taoist Leadership ™. This research specifies how the leader of the times to come will need to install a triple harmony: inside himself, inside his organization and his teams, to better see it appear in our plan of reality.

culture and leadership: The taoïst leader

What is taoïsm ?

Of shamanic origin, taoism (teaching the way) is an inspiration from Heaven. It comes from the "early morning of the world", from the time when men had only nature and the celestial vault as books. Lao Tzu, the "old child", recorded the first, in the fifth century BC, 81 brief passages compiling the essentials of the Way and its virtues, which are keys to restore balance in the horizontal world and join during his lifetime, the absolute harmony of the origin of the universe, the supreme One, the Tai Yi, beyond the Yin and the Yang.

Initiatory and concise but particularly hermetic and polysemous, the "Tao Te King" is said to be the most translated work in the world after the Bible.

In fact, the Taoist sage recognizes no other teaching than that of nature and Heaven. He strives to "return to the origin", the pure meaning of the "Tao" ideogram (2), which symbolizes a man resolutely walking towards the root of things, where it all began. Taoism is therefore not an art of the head but an understanding of the body. The Tao is understandable only in the reality of life. It is not a way of letters but an art of cellular and energetic feeling, a vibratory knowledge. This teaching nourished Chinese medicine, stimulated the minds of the literates of the Imperial Court starting from the Han and constituted a choice path for the development of spirituality, via what is called Taoist alchemy, a combination of bodily, respiratory, energetic and psychic exercises.

What do we mean by "Taoist leader ™"

Closer to us, the Taoist leader is an executive who understood that the universe and the nature around us carry within them the laws of harmony and right balance. He understands that he will never be so vigorous, happy and successful as when he (or she) will manage to understand the laws of nature and apply them to himself, in his relationships with others, in the governance or management of his organization and in the relationship it maintains with the living.

The Taoist Way, the “Dao”, speaks of this alchemical quest for totality. IT is the great whole, and has no origin or end. IT is the supreme order of the world. IT penetrates and animates all things and all beings, stones, plants, animals, humans, and gives them a part of its energy. IT is the way which makes it possible to connect and install harmony at the level of the three worlds that are Heaven, Human and Earth. These three planes are closely interrelated, interdependent and fractal. Acting in one world inevitably has repercussions in each of the others. So knowing the meaning of one's life can energize the body. Likewise, feeling long-lasting anger can significantly affect your health.

Finally, a body pain can make it difficult to concentrate properly. Man therefore acts on the climate as much as the climate acts on him. Everything fits together: body and mind, the visible as well as the invisible. The Taoist leader behaves and acts, being aware of this global interdependence.

The concept of “non-action”

A central concept of Taoism (and the magic of Chinese polysemy), "non-action" can be interpreted in many ways, according to the intention one sets or the circumstances at hand. It can mean things as diverse as:
- decide not to decide,
- observe the environment carefully and wait for the right time and the right place to act,
- act without forcing things ("you don't push a river", Chinese proverb),
- intervene in the most frugal way possible (simplicity and frugality)
- operate using the only means available (jugaad innovation),
- act in conscience and then detach yourself from results that no longer depend on us,
- delegate and entrust to others the task of acting,
- act with spontaneity (intuition, humor and wonder),
- act in the forgetfulness of oneself (detachment),
- let come what comes (intuition, inspiration) or what creates joy (experience) If we were to summarize non-action in the manner of a Zen koan, we would readily say that it is "the decision that existed before making a decision" or "what is before being" or again "this is what happens when nothing happens".

  If we were to summarize non-action in the manner of a Zen koan, we would readily say that it is "the decision that existed before making a decision" or "what is before being" or again "this is what happens when nothing happens".

The Taoist leader ™, leader of himself

The Taoist Leader ™ thinks Harmonance and Envision.

"Harmonance" is this subtle combination of harmony and overall performance. She explains to us that performance is not an objective but the consequence of a situation of harmony, oriented over the long term. It can only be conceived globally, all stakeholders included, even the most silent (fauna, flora, scenic beauty, etc.).

The "Envision" means "the Vision that makes you want", the ultimate purpose of the organization, the response to the "Why", what we could call its "Reason for Existence" or its "mission".

Take for example, the Japanese company toto (tōyō tōki, "oriental porcelain" in english). Genuine flagship of Japanese industry, its mission is to install cleanliness around oneself (sanitary facilities, road cleaning, etc.) to allow its employees to access cleanliness within themselves and thus contribute to the harmony of the community. This innovative company is particularly renowned for bringing the Washlet to the market - a toilet bowl with a spray nozzle for cleaning private parts. The firm with the blue logo, leader of the Japanese market for controlled toilets but also evacuation systems for this type of installation, is now working on other innovations (Wellness Toilet, intelligent toilet with several sensors) in harmony with the principles of taoism. Like the company Toto, the Taoist leader ™ thinks long, thinks as a species and acts as if the planet is in charge of his company.

Therefore, for all the decisions that he is called upon to make (organization, recruitment, etc.), the Taoist leader asks the question of how nature and future generations would respond to them in his place. Because he knows that his biorhythms are guided by millions of years of evolution, he holds his economic action as much as possible on the pulse of nature's energy and on 18 key principles which are found in the real. He launches projects in the spring, speeds them up in summertime and adapts them in the fall. Late fall and winter provide an opportunity to take stock in all areas and prepare for the next cycle. He arranges in the same way, the agenda of his meetings or the modes of animation according to the schedules of the day (search for balance). Taoist wisdom thus revisits the invariable fundamentals of personal development and the relationship with others, which since man has existed, preside over his action in the world.

Leadership and immortality

But the great business of Taoism concerns its quest for immortality from exercises of inner transformation, at the convergence of body, energy and spirit. This awareness of evolution explains the importance of giving particular care that to what we eat, drink or breathe, to what we look at or hear, to our relationships, to our relationship with performance and nature. Like a pianist doing his scales, this process involves practicing alchemical exercises with continuous regularity, to integrate information on the cellular and bodily level and ultimately free oneself from the body and respiration.

This liberation requires the prior installation of a great inner calm and the pacification of his emotions, by the opening of the Heart as well as by the faculty of concentrating his mind durably and without strength. Joy is present at all times of the practice, a simple joy, of gentle intention and not of purpose, a joy of consequence and not of will. This alchemical work allows access, without real research, to certain parapsychic aptitudes on the visible or invisible planes. It makes it possible to vibrate in unison with the quantum universe, to feel in the moment all the great principles of living things, to understand the laws of the world and to tangent the totality. At the end of the road ? What the Taoists call "celestial immortality".


Very present in the arts and techniques of the Far East (music, poetry ...), Taoism is one of the founding currents of thought of Chinese civilization. It is one of the three great wisdoms or "teachings" in China along with Confucianism and Buddhism, and is said to be practiced by more than 20 million devotees. Taoist ideas are widely present today in traditional Chinese medicine and in acupuncture. Because it reasons interdependence with the living world, because it is a cosmocentrism and not an anthropocentrism, Taoism presents itself as a possible response to the systemic evils of our sick, separated and egocentric societies.

Olivier Meier
Full Professor
University of Paris Est (LIPHA)


Chateau L.(2021), Manuel pratique du leader taoïste™, EMS Editions.
Chateau L. (2020), Les 9 plans de conscience du leader taoïste, online article, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/les-9-plans-de-conscience-du-leader-tao%C3%AFste-laurent-chateau/
Chateau L. (2021), Contribution au livre Le leadership spirituel en pratiques, EMS Editions.
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Chateau L. (2014), La Tao-entreprise : performance globale et harmonie, Deboeck
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(1) In collaboration with Laurent Chateau, trainer and author of books, adviser and coach of managers. He is the original creator of “Taoist Leadership ™”. Member of executive teams in the energy sector, he has held several thematic conferences (leadership, business purpose, conflict resolution, etc.) in different countries. He practiced Sino-Vietnamese martial arts and was a member of a Taoist school for 16 years. He is a graduate teacher of traditional Taoist Qigong (Long Men / QuanZhen, Shaolin…). Find out more: https://www.leadershiptaoiste.com and www.linkedin.com/in/laurent-chateau-tao

(2) Quote
« When a new leader is chosen, don't offer to help him with your wealth or expertise. Instead, offer to teach him about the Tao ». Lao Tseu (Tao Te King, 62)