China’s Top 15 Leaders Offer Lessons for the West - IEDP
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China’s Top 15 Leaders Offer Lessons for the West

China’s rich history of language, culture, Taoism and dynasties all come together to form three perspective-taking practices that can prove of value to leaders everywhere.


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According to Cheng Zhu in an article for Forbes magazine, Western leaders can learn much from the chief executives of Chinese companies, who have risen from pariahs to role models in a rapidly changing world.

Zhu interviewed 15 top Chinese CEOs and found the following practices to be prevalent in all:

1) Reframing—or sheng yi (a Chinese word literally meaning “create new meanings”). Business, according to the Chinese CEOs Zhu interviewed, starts with seeing what it is and what it can be. They ask themselves questions that help them continually reframe and reinterpret what lies before them, behind them and within them;

2) Transcend—appreciating the interrelation between ying and yang, or positive and negative, a key principle of Taoism; and

3) Listen—a skill that helps build, or rebuild, mutual trust and respect, and makes space for innovation and change.

Zhu points out that the social and cultural environment in China was extremely hostile to private enterprise several decades ago. But over time, and by building close relationships with stakeholders through the principles above, China’s emerging leaders have successfully reversed the prevailing cultural prejudice.

Zhu is a senior faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership and author of the chapter "Chinese 'Sheng Yi': Reinterpreting Challenges for Leaders" in The ASTD Leadership Handbook (2010).

Further information

Read the article in full on Forbes

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