Tag Archives: Confucius on law

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a step-by-step approach

step-by-step approach

Confucius said: “‘When the most able people govern a country for a hundred years, cruelty can be overcome and killing eliminated.’ How true this saying is!”
子曰:「『善人為邦百年,亦可以勝殘去殺矣。』誠哉是言也!」

When it comes to implementing meaningful change, you need to recognize that it’s not going to happen overnight – no matter how hard you may try to will it or enforce it. A step-by-step approach is required. The key is to set an ambitious yet achievable timeframe featuring clear and concrete milestones for measuring progress. Of course there will be times when you find yourself wondering whether you’ll ever be able to accomplish it. On such occasions, don’t give up. Just brush yourself down and get on with it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a step-by-step approach

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: after the horse has bolted

after the horse has bolted

子曰:「聽訟,吾猶人也,必也使無訟乎!」
Confucius said: “I can adjudicate lawsuits as well as anybody. But I would prefer to make litigation unnecessary.”

Why bother shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted? Focus instead on building a culture that prevents the steed from escaping in the first place. Rules are reactive by their very nature. They only address situations that have already taken place without identifying or eliminating the root cause. There’ll never be enough of them to cover every possible scenario that might occur. It’s only by putting the right principles, processes, and practices in place that you and your organization will become more proactive in dealing with potential problems and threats. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: after the horse has bolted

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: unintended consequences

Beijing Confucius Temple: unintended consequences

子曰:「道之以政,齊之以刑,民免而無恥;道之以德,齊之以禮,有恥且格。」
Confucius said: “If you lead through laws and regulations and maintain order through punishments, people will avoid them but won’t develop a sense of shame. If you lead through virtue and keep them in line with ritual, they will develop a sense of shame and unite behind you.”

Whenever government or business leaders are faced with an ethical crisis, their instinctive response is to pass a raft of new legislation, regulations, rules, and codes of conduct to “solve” it. While in the short term this approach may give the illusion that they are “doing something” (not to mention generating some handy headlines), in the long term it has the highly corrosive effect of widening the gap between the elite and the people and increasing the level of state interference into individuals’ lives. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: unintended consequences