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New Art Of War: Humane Leaders Maintains Organization Ongoing

New Art Of War: Humane Leaders Maintains Organization Ongoing

PARK Jae-Hee

Feb. 26, 2008


Hello, I am Jae-Hee Park on The New Art of War.

Leaders dedicated to the effectiveness of their organization all face the same problems, how to improve their organizations, how to improve their employee’s capabilities, and how to lead them to into accomplishing their organization’s goals. B. F. Skinner, the great behavioral psychologist, contributed to our understanding of organizations by asserting that positive reinforcement is better at motivating people than punishment. Based on such theories, states like California abandoned corporal punishment in their schools.

More than 2,500 years ago, Confucius also noted that a leader’s consideration and remuneration could be much more effective than punitive regulations and legalistic control. As noted in the Confucian Analects, "If you govern the people legalistically and control them by punishment, they will avoid crime, but have no personal sense of shame. If you govern them by means of virtue and control them with propriety, they will gain their own sense of shame, and thus correct themselves."

Today, what Confucius said still rings true in the business world. Confucius thought legality and punishment may regulate people’s behavior but would not be effective in changing their hearts. He believed that by treating people with care and respect, that they would voluntarily change themselves. Motivating employees only through salaries and positions has its limits. Employees may obey policies and orders but inside they may think otherwise.

Not long ago, a high school football team in the US state of Kansas, Smith Center, made headlines by winning 53 games in a row. This remarkable achievement was a product of “gold leadership” from coach Roger Barta. He cared for his players as if they were his own family, and the players also came to think of each other as brothers. Soon the team’s group coordination and cohesion made it invincible. Barta’s leadership ability was to motivate all players to do their utmost for the team.

Confucius was a people-oriented behaviorist. This is best shown in the dialogue in Analects. Chi K’ang-Tzu asked, “What do you say to killing the unprincipled for the good of the principled?” Confucius replied, “In carrying on your government, why should you use killing at all? Let your evinced desires be for what is good, and the people will be good.”

Instead of severe punishment and stifling regulations, care and respect for subordinates has better influence.

The master goes on to say, "The relationship between superiors and inferiors is like that between the wind and the grass. The grass must bend, when the wind blows across it." A leader should not act with impunity simply because he is a leader. A leader should instead seek the trust of his subordinates through care and compensation. Employees will work best when they are cared for and respected. An organization's performance depends on their commitment. This is how a humane leader can keep his organization competitive.

This has been a lecture on The New Art of War by Jae-Hee Park.

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