To perfect your leadership, see your team as a master sculptor would see a raw block of marble: a masterpiece waiting to be formed.

Flanked by two rivers and a bay, Quanzhou is just one of many coastal Chinese cities that claim to be the “Venice of the East.”

Thousands of years ago, stone sculptors in this coastal area of China worked tirelessly to carve magnificent statues, many of which you can find there today.

One peculiar, yet awe-inspiring work you will find there is the hand-carved Laojun Rock, a symbol of the town’s rich history of sculpting, and a tribute to the legendary Laozi.

The process of carving one of these statues would often take decades to complete and enormous attention to detail—many sculptors would only complete a single work in their entire lifetime.

Once finished carving, the artists were said to immerse their sculptures in a nearby river for several more years. Over this time, as water passed over the stone, the stone would be battered by the water and smoothed. The finishing touches would have been applied.

Only with the patience of the artist, and persistence of the gently flowing water, the stone could finally be considered a masterpiece.

A Leader is a Sculptor

To be an effective, principled leader you must immerse yourself within the essence of an ancient Chinese sculptor.

The team you lead is the stone.

The culture you build of personal responsibility, of accountability, of free-flowing ideas, of open communication, and of the inevitability of success is the persistent flow of the river.

Only after years of consistent dedication and effort, will you have sculpted your leadership masterpiece.

Anything good in life takes time to build. What is built fast will collapse just as fast. So be patient, unhurried, and take your time.

Give your team the attention to detail that an ancient Chinese sculptor would give a statue. You won’t get it right overnight, in a week, in a month, or even in a year.

But every action you take and every decision you make is yet one more etching on your grand masterpiece, one more step towards your ultimate vision of a well-sculpted team.