Dosan's Understanding of Leadership

According to Dosan's teachings, the development and support of a true leader was undoubtedly one of the most significant factors in an organization. A leader had to possess a sincere and respectable character to be a good influence on others; and, he had to display ideals he believed in by way of his own actions. In order to save Korea from Japan, Dosan believed this type of leader was the one who could lead the nation one step closer to its independence. 

Starting from the Shinmin-hoe - New People’s Association era (1906-1911), Dosan had the consistent commitment to developing capable individuals for leadership. Developing the Korean nation's future leaders can be interpreted as one of his key hopes and strategic approaches to gain independence. The role of sound leadership was the most essential component in unifying the Independence Movement forces to fight the Japanese.

Dosan did not consider a leader as one who only possessed a superior ability or a special talent. A good leader was the product of a society that demanded combining such efforts with sincerity, dedication and integrity. According to him, the leader was there because of a realistic necessity of the organization.

Furthermore, he said that there was no absolute standard to become a leader. A person could become a leader when one displayed dedicated sacrifice and sincere effort for the sake of the organization more than others did. Dosan criticized the jealous attitude of not acknowledging a leader and the arrogant behavior of not accepting a leader. He considered these two circumstances the worst hindrances for leaders in doing their jobs appropriately.

Dosan said: "Thinking there is no one with the right qualification to be a leader means the same as not understanding the principle of cooperation and not wanting to support the leader themselves". Anyone’s self-serving interests, personal relationships, acts of favoritism, or self-serving political reasons should not be of any influence when it came to electing the leader for the organization. Each member of the organization should select their leader based on cautious observation and not an opinion based on incomplete information. "Do not unmindfully put someone in the position of a leader. After carefully inspecting their central concern and real character, after accepting their quality as a leader based on examination of performance, not based on something that is believed to be true without proof, select the most capable leader."

Dosan's Qualities of a Leader: 

  • Honesty
  • Practice What You Preach
  • Ability to Delegate
  • Communication
  • Sense of Humor
  • Confidence
  • Commitment
  • Positive Attitude
  • Creativity
  • Ability to Inspire

Flip Cuddy