He is aloof, as if his talk
Were priced beyond the purchasing;
But once his project is contrived,
The folk will want to say of it:
“Of course! We did it by ourselves!”

Lao-tzu (604?-531? BC) Chinese philosopher, poet [also Lao-tse, Laozi]
The Way of Life, ch. 17 [tr. Blakney (1955)]

Alt. trans.:
  • "A good manager is best when people barely know that he exists. Not so good when people obey and acclaim him. Worse when they despise him. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done -- his aim fulfilled, they will say: 'We did it ourselves.'"
  • "When the effective leader is finished with his work, the people say it happened naturally."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 8-Jan-20
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