Dé Lǐng Dǎo (德領導) - Martial arts philosophy behind leadership process to rise above our ‘cultural background noise’
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The story is showing from a first-person perspective the internal growing up of a leadership process based on non-Western approach. The main character, brought up in Europe and therefore used to Western “cultural background noise’ although practicing Chinese martial arts, has to learn and understand the differences brought by Far East principles if he wants to grasp leadership from a different angle. On the whole, a Western leadership is thought and understood as an external process of a person that influences others. Most of leadership and management books that deal with leadership and managers describe what and how to do it to be more efficient and successful. They describe tools to use to do it. This is called an external process. Outward, because others see leaders as how they behave or how they use those tools in a leadership style and/or process. But we all live our lives and perceive surrounding environment only from our internal eyes. Therefore, the focal questions raised in a book are the following: Do all leaders have the same fears, problems, and difficulties or happiness, pleasure, and delight in being what they are? What are their feelings when leading people, making decisions, or taking responsibility? How do they sense and perceive their subordinates? In a book, those are called internal issues and are dealt with and described through a different approach—an approach that is based on the Far East mentality and shown through Chinese martial arts and Chinese philosophy. The book has eighteen (18) chapters. Chapters one to five are dedicated to the background setting and the evolution of the story and characters; Chapters six to nine are devoted to open different approaches and mentality that is coming from Far East and Martial arts philosophy and in parallel gradually introducing difficulties in leadership process and (miss)understanding of those Far East concepts; in a Chapter ten main character is pushed to the limits of solving leadership dilemma and private concerns; Chapter eleven is dedicated to “open the eyes” about the new concepts; in a Chapter twelve the foundation of Far East philosophy behind Martial arts is described that would be further on used for the “Leadership by Virtue” principle; Chapters thirteen to seventeen are telling one by one and thus portraying internal concepts used in Martial arts principles and Eastern philosophy and how to transfer those into (internal) leadership development; final Chapter eighteen is dedicated to merge those Far East and Martial arts concepts and philosophies with “known” Western ones and thus opening a new entanglement approach proposed with the use of the Leadership by Virtue.
No one can see their reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see. (Daoism) We sit on the floor of our Dojo and are listening carefully to Shifu telling one of his interesting stories. This one is about how the name of our style emerged. “Combat in China was not exclusively between the province of the rulers and the military. The Chinese countryside was rife with gangs of bandits and outlaws. In those times the doctrines of Daoism spread and flourished, with the Daoist monks practicing various types of exercise, breathing, and meditation. During the closing years of the Hàn Dynasty, a Chinese physician and scientist Huà Tuó (died around 208) who also invented surgery under narcosis through the use of hallucinogen ‘tea,’ made a major contribution to the development of martial arts. He introduced a system of medical Dǎo Yǐn (導引) “Exercise of the Five Animals” — based on the movements of the tiger, deer, bear, monkey, and crane, to promote blood circulation, freedom from sickness, and the prevention of the symptoms of ageing. “The first Shao Lin Monastery was built around 497 AD, in Henan Province near Song Mountain – (Sōng Shān – 嵩山). It was built for the purpose of housing Buddhist monks who were charged with the task of translating the Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Chinese. Approximately 520 AD, an Indian Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma journeyed from India to China and came to the Shao Lin Monastery. The monks were soundly impressed with his religious discipline and commitment, and he was welcomed into their ranks. To improve their health and assist their meditation, Bodhidharma devised three sets of exercises, emphasizing correct breathing and bending and stretching of the body. The monks, who were in constant physical danger from outlaws and robbers but who were forbidden by their religious code to carry weapons, modified many of the existing exercises to form systems of weaponless self-defense, becoming the systems of Wǔ Shù (武術), more popularly known by the name Gōng Fu, and other Asian martial arts we practice today.” Listening to the way and the content of Shifu’s story telling always amuse me how much knowledge he has for all those details. How different with the environment I’m now working in. Most managers’ decisions are nowadays mostly based on fast and on the surface only information as there is no time for more in deep study. What a difference between these two environments, is that okay – passes my mind at what time I return to Shifu’s narration. “The common legend of Wing Chun as told by Yip Kai Man is about Ng Mui, who took refuge in the White Crane Temple on Da Liang Mountain (Dà Liáng Shān – 大涼山). There she met Yim Yee and his daughter Yán Yǒng Chūn (嚴詠春 literally means ‘Eternal Springtime’), from whom she often bought bean curd on her way home from the market. A local bully tried to force her to marry him, and his continuous threats became a source of worry to her and her father. Ng Mui learned of this and took pity on Yǒng Chūn. Ng Mui agreed to teach her fighting techniques so she could protect herself. Yǒng Chūn followed Ng Mui into the mountains, and began to learn fighting skills. Then she challenged the despot to a fight and beat him. “Yip Kai Man became the first who introduced this ancient style outside of China that is now internationally known under its Cantonese name as the Wing Chun,” Shifu concludes. “Why has the name changed?” asks Brian. “Principally, Yip was from the south of China where Cantonese is spoken. In addition, the Chinese pronunciation is very different from the western pronunciation, and people misunderstood it. Consequently we have not only Wing Chun, but also Ving Tsun, Ving Chun, and Wing Tsun, as well as some styles that add Kuen instead of (Mandarin) Quán — meaning ‘series of fist boxing’ — at the end of Wing Chun as a third word. But basically they are all the same with minor deviations representing different teacher styles that evolved after Yip.” “How come we have different styles?” Brian carries on. “Very good question, Brian. You know that we are different first in the physical sense, then we also move and think differently. We have different cultural backgrounds and we believe in diverse customs and religions. Therefore when great master Yip passed his knowledge to his students they changed the style according to their understanding, capabilities, and knowledge. Some stayed in Hong Kong and others left and went abroad.” “You mean that each of us is unique and therefore we each perform Wing Chun differently?” “That is more than true. As in everyday life, we act differently on the same occasions. Why should it be any different here in the Dojo? John moves differently and teaches differently than Martin and there is nothing wrong with this as long as you respect and follow the basic rules.” “But why are these rules so important?” “Nick, as in everyday life — if you, for instance, drive a car, there are regulations preventing us from killing or injuring each other. We are not supposed to drive chaotically, and in working environments or business there are different sets of laws and so on. In Wing Chun we are also not different. You see, we also use a system that is fundamental. All our motions, being slightly different due to our body constitution, have the same foundation as we have only two legs, two arms, one body, and the same joints, bones, muscles, and sinews, for example. The biomechanics are therefore alike, and so are the rudiments of our system. The Yip Kai Man’s followers were distinctive too and thus they modified accordingly to suit them best.” Listening provokes my memories of past events. I find a lot of parallels between these illustrations and what has happened at the firm. Today, just a few minutes after my arrival at work, Dylan was already in my office. He complained that Fedor is not cooperative. He just called the software (SW) company that wrote our financial SW and now is just waiting for their reply. When asked Fedor said that he did his job and that he cannot carry out the software programming instead of the company programmers and write a new SW module. I promised to have a discussion with Fedor. Just when I switched my computer on the phone rang. Lucas was on the other side. A moment ago he received Cal’s complaint about the new calculations for salaries. Cal thinks that they are still just in the first draft phase, but the course of thinking should be, in Luca’s opinion, away of just nominal cutting to get employees on the same level. And that is not rocket science. I tried to calm Lucas down that this is probably just the first outline and we should wait until tomorrow as promised. He was not pleased with my interpretation. Thinking about these events, it seems to me that that each one has his own perception about where his or her powers extend. Hence, I have to have the longest “hands” in their judgment and can solve all the problems. But this was not all that this makes me think about. Yesterday I promised to prepare the presentation by tomorrow so that the other members of my future Board and Lucas could add their parts. I like to do this by myself because then I have control of the flow that I like. The whole day I tried to dedicate some time to carry out this deed. I could not. There were interruptions from all sides — email and phones and people asking for this and that — all stole my precious time. It was around one when I ultimately gave up and called Gemini and the PR department to find some help. PR was cooperative and promised to do the design part, and Gemini found someone to do the first draft for me. I got the assurance that it would be done by three. As usually in those tense conditions it was not. I couldn’t start to work on it until after four, and others think that I have “long arms” and can do impossible things in a few minutes? And now I was sitting in the Dojo lost in my thoughts…
Jaro Berce, PhD, achieved a degree in electrical engineering and received a PhD in social sciences from the University of Ljubljana and gained a master’s degree in computer science in the USA. At the beginning of his professional career, his work focused only on research and development of information technology and electrical engineering systems at the Institute of Jožef Stefan. Later on, he started to build his expertise also in the fields of project management, organization restructuring, consultancy, and entrepreneurship. He cofounded, managed, and served on the board of directors of two information technology consulting and engineering firms. One-GRAD d.d. played an important role as it was the first company whose stock was sold on a new-founded Yugoslav stock market in 1989. At the beginning of ’90s, he started a family business with the eBerce (http://eberce.si) company. Jaro Berce was involved in management consultancy for a strategic redirection and restructuring projects on behalf of big four multinational consulting companies. He worked at board level in both the private and public sectors. He was a supervisory board member and a chair of a supervisory board in different big companies where he has proven successful management and leadership abilities. Comfortable taking on responsibility and a charismatic communicator, he currently holds an assistant professorship and a project management position within the Center of Social Informatics of the University of Ljubljana, Faculty for Social Sciences. He was fortunate enough to have lived, been educated, worked, and experienced in many different places of culture starting in Europe via Africa and USA to China. On his varied journey, he has met and had several bosses. They were both good and troublesome. Since his very early age, Jaro Berce is dedicated to martial arts, in last decade specifically to Chinese martial arts. On a daily basis he practice Yǒng Chūn (詠春) more known as Wing Chun, Qì Gōng (氣功) and/or T’ai Chi Ch’uan (太極拳).
Does my »cultural background noise« really affect some of my thoughts and approaches and prevents me to see a big picture? My decisions are based on facts, but do my deeply ingrained »herediraty« values impend on the way I would (could) be a better leader?

This book is a novelty every leader should read. It takes you through the process of leadership. Well written, it is an educational book, but not a »manual for leadership« as it requires deeper understanding.


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