All posts by Richard Brown

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: proper reverence

proper reverence

曾子曰:「慎終追遠,民德歸厚矣。」
Zengzi said: “When the dead are shown proper reverence and the memory of distant ancestors is kept alive, the people’s virtue is at its highest.” (1) (2)

It can be very easy to take the culture of your organization for granted. But showing respect for its history and the people who established and built it is vital for forming a common bond among everyone who joins it.

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Leadership Lessons from Confucius: seriousness of purpose

seriousness of purpose

子曰:「君子不重,則不威,學則不固。主忠信,無友不如己者,過則勿憚改。」

The Master said: “A leader who has no gravity lacks dignity and a solid foundation for learning. Hold loyalty and trustworthiness as your highest principles; don’t make friends with people who are not your equal. When you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to correct yourself.”

Seriousness of purpose is critical in a leader. Without having a strong commitment to achieve your goal, how will you be able to put in the hard work necessary to accomplish it and to inspire other people to support you?

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Leadership lessons from Confucius: quiet determination

quiet determination

子夏曰:「賢賢易色,事父母能竭其力,事君能致其身,與朋友交言而有信,雖曰未學,吾必謂之學矣。」
Zixia said: “If a man values character over beauty (1), devotes himself to serving his parents, dedicates his life to his ruler, and is true to his word with his friends, I’ll insist he’s learned even if others think otherwise.”

Actions speak louder than words. As a leader you should focus on people who go about their daily work with quiet determination rather than those who attempt to grab your attention by saying all the right words and pushing themselves to the center stage by grabbing all the highest-profile assignments.

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Leadership Lessons from Confucius: character counts

character counts

子曰:「弟子入則孝,出則弟,謹而信,汎愛眾,而親仁。行有餘力,則以學文。」
The Master said: “A young man should be filial at home and fraternal outside it. He should be cautious and truthful, love everyone, but only develop close relationships with good people. If he still has energy to spare after all this, he should study the classics.”

How to prepare the young generation for a fast-moving and turbulent world? This was just as daunting a challenge in Confucius’s day as it is in ours due the politically and socially unstable times that he lived in. Finding suitable jobs in the bureaucracy or estates of the hereditary ruling calls was just as tough as it is nowadays for educated young people without family connections, and there was at least an equal chance of being caught up in violence and wars as the different states vied with each other for supremacy.

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Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a steady hand

steady hand

子曰:「道千乘之國,敬事而信,節用而愛人,使民以時。」
The Master said: “The way to rule a thousand-chariot state(1) is to devote yourself to its affairs and fulfill your commitments; be economical in expenditure and love your subordinates; and mobilize the common people for labor at the right time of the year.”(2)

No matter how large the group or organization you lead is, the principles you should follow in order to create a productive and harmonious culture remain the same: show a strong work ethic and live up to the promises you make; keep operational costs to minimum and care for the people you work with; and don’t make unnecessary demands on them unless it is absolutely necessary.

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Leadership Lessons from Confucius: self-reflection

self-reflection

曾子曰:「吾日三省吾身,為人謀而不忠乎?與朋友交而不信乎?傳不習乎?」
Zengzi said: “I examine myself three times every day. Have I been true to other people’s interests when acting on their behalf? Have I been sincere in my interactions with friends? Have I practiced what I have been taught?”(1)

Introspection or self-reflection is critical for a leader. It can be all too easy to lose touch with reality when you’re in your cocoon surrounded by people whose careers and livelihoods depend on making sure you’re satisfied. Very few people have the courage to call you out if they think you’re making the wrong decision or going beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior.

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Leadership Lessons from Confucius: smooth talk and an affected manner

子曰:「巧言令色鮮矣仁。」
The Master said: “Smooth talk and an affected manner are seldom signs of goodness.” (1)

How do you deal with the sycophants that inevitably gravitate towards you like bees to a honeypot when you reach a leadership position? It’s easy enough to dismiss them for their “smooth talk” and “affected manner” as Confucius does in Chapter 3 of Book 1 of the Analects, but much more challenging to create a culture around you that doesn’t stand for such behavior in the first place.

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When the travel gods smile on you

Taipei Songshan Airport

If you’re flying from Taipei to a major city in China, Japan, or South Korea, Songshan Airport is far closer and more convenient than the main one in Taoyuan. The check-in, security, and immigration processes usually take me less than fifteen minutes thanks to the lower number of flights that go from there and the cheerful and friendly staff.

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From Shanghai to Hangzhou: China International Industry Fair and Alibaba Empower Digital China

VIA ARTiGO A920

I’m looking forward to leaving for Shanghai tomorrow to attend the China International Industry Fair at the National Exhibition and Convention Center before hopping over to Hangzhou for Empower Digital China being held by Alibaba.

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