Three Leadership Motives

Pin It


As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence.
The next best, the people honor and praise.
The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate.
…When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!’

– Lao Tzu

How do we lead? Lao Tzu describes three types of leaders with three leadership motives.

We can understand the motivations by asking: why do we lead?  If we are honest we’ll see some measure of all three of these motivations in ourselves:

1. Seeking Higher Status, Respect and Rewards

Leaders motivated by their own interests think respect and loyalty are owed instead of something  earned. They value the success of their group only in as much as it results in recognition for themselves.

2. Seeking Approval and Friendship

Leaders motivated by the desire for approval and friendship may lose perspective of the goals of the group. They may offer favors or special treatment or be concerned more about how popular they are than the success of the group.

3. Helping others Succeed

Leaders who will sacrifice their own rewards and comfort in seeking  success for the group.


Tags: ,