Master Li sits on a bench at the Kung Fu school’s studio and observes two of his students sparring during a training session. As one of the sparring students nails his opponent to the ground, Master Li waits on the student to finish the fight with the last fist blow. The student hesitates to do that as it was just a training session and it might injure his friend, who was his opponent at the time. That split second of hesitation is what Master Li could not tolerate.

Master Li: “What are you doing? Why did you stop?” and in a loud scream, he says, “Finish!”

The student brutally strikes his opponent aka friend in the face and looks at his master nervously.

Master Li calls the student towards him and slaps him right across his face. And then looks at the entire class and instructs them: “We do not stop when the enemy is down. No mercy… no mercy in the studio… no mercy in the competition… no mercy in life… our enemy deserves pain.”

The students training under Master Li were probably within the age range of 10 to 15 years. They were already being aggressively taught about the concept of having no mercy on the opponent. This meant that winning was the ultimate goal and one had to do whatever one should do to win.

Master Li was the fictional character who played the primary antagonist in the 2010 movie – The Karate Kid. While this movie was almost everyone’s favorite, it had several lessons to teach us about leadership. We learn important lessons from the good mentor and Karate coach, Mr. Han played by Jackie Chan, and the martial arts coach, Master Li played by Yu Rongguang.

Mr. Han had a different way of teaching his one and only student Dre Parker the art of Kung Fu. In turn, Dre could face his peers who were bullying him at school and happened to be Master Li’s students.

“There is a marked difference in how a great leader leads versus a bad leader and how it affects the people they lead.”

~Krescon Coaches

We could look at Mr. Han as a leader with a high SiQ. He was not one to back out from a fight but he was also mindful of which fights to pick and which ones to avoid.

“When fighting angry, blind men, best to just stay out of the way. The best fights are the ones we avoid. Kung Fu is for knowledge and defense. Not to make war but create peace.”

~Mr. Han

With this kind of knowledge, Mr. Han’s coaching methods were far superior compared to Master Li’s.

Markings of a Low SiQ Leader

·      Master Li was much stricter, relying on harsh criticism and punishment to motivate his students.

·      He prioritized winning at all costs and was more focused on achieving success through brute force.

·      He was more distant and treated his students as tools to be used for his gain.

·      He also used whatever means to defeat their opponents, including illegal moves.

Markings of a High SiQ Leader

·      Mr. Han used a hands-on approach to teach Dre by physically showing him the proper techniques and correcting his mistakes.

·      He taught Dre the foundational principles of Kung Fu, including respect, discipline, and patience.

·      He also emphasized the importance of mastering the basics before moving on to advanced techniques.

·      He showed genuine concern for Dre’s well-being and took the time to understand his struggles.

·      He emphasized the importance of competing with honor and integrity, rather than using dirty tactics to win.

As leaders with a high Spiritual Quotient (SiQ), their team members are influenced in specific directions. These directions lead to paths of fulfillment in more ways than one for both the leader and the team members.

Every team member working under the influence of a good leader with a high SiQ is nurtured with the right knowledge and actions. They are motivated to commit to the goals of the company. They find their leader more approachable, flexible, and open to new ideas.

A leader with a low SiQ cannot bring this fortune of fulfillment to his or her team. Situations may always arise where the team feels demotivated and caught in the crossfires of their leader’s bad decisions. This is what Master Li’s students finally realized when Dre won the Kung Fu competition based on sheer hard work and also with merciful strength. They realize the flaws in Master Li’s concept of winning, which create in them the will to respect Mr. Han’s ways and make peace with Dre.

Rudyard Kipling best explains leadership with high SiQ in his poem


If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so, hold on when there is nothing in you

Except for the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And – what is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

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