Tag Archives: Confucius on leadership

Leadership lessons from Confucius: a precious sacrificial utensil

a precious sacrificial utensil

子貢問曰:「賜也何如?」子曰:「女器也。」曰:「何器也?」曰:「瑚璉也。」
Zigong asked: “What do you think of me?” Confucius said: “You’re a utensil.” “What sort of utensil?” “A precious sacrificial utensil.” (1) (2)

Just because someone asks you a straight question, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they want you to give them a straight answer. Consider the possible reasons they may be raising the question before blurting out an answer and having to hastily correct yourself like Confucius does in this passage. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: a precious sacrificial utensil

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: nurturing leadership talent

nurturing leadership talent

子謂子賤,「君子哉若人!魯無君子者,斯焉取斯?」
Confucius said of Zijian: “He is a true leader! If there were indeed no leaders in the state of Lu, how would he have reached this level?” (1)

Are great leaders born or made? While there’ll probably never be a definitive answer to that question, creating an environment that promotes personal growth and development can certainly help people to acquire the necessary skills and attributes for taking on a leadership role. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: nurturing leadership talent

Analects of Confucius Book 4: overview

The Analects of Confucius Book 4 begins with an exploration of the meaning of goodness. Only people who practice it constantly in their daily lives without a desire for personal profit are able to enjoy true satisfaction and contentment.

Even though Confucius claims that he has never seen “anyone whose strength is insufficient” to devote themselves to goodness for a single day, he despairs that he hasn’t ever seen anyone who “truly loves goodness and truly detests evil” either. The path to goodness that he urges everyone to follow is indeed a lonely and difficult one! Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 4: overview

Analects of Confucius Book 4: new English translation

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 4 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher. Its main themes include goodness, leadership, filial devotion, and the need for restraint.

Chapter 1
子曰:「里仁為美。擇不處仁,焉得知?」
Confucius said: “It’s beautiful to live in a neighborhood that’s filled with goodness. How can someone be wise if they choose to live in a place that lacks goodness?”
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Leadership lessons from Confucius: be slow to speak and prompt to act

slow to speak

子曰:「君子欲訥於言,而敏於行。」
Confucius said: “A leader should be slow to speak and prompt to act.”

Instead of talking about that great idea you have in your head, why not just go ahead and carry it out? Even if you don’t manage to succeed in achieving your original goal, you will learn a huge amount in the process and be better equipped to take on your next big challenge. After all, given that it’s never been cheaper and easier to prototype an idea for a business, product, or creative endeavor thanks to ubiquitous connectivity and myriad online tools and communities, what have you got to lose? Except perhaps some time that you would probably have spent lamenting the opportunities that you’ve missed in your life.

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Leadership Lessons from Confucius: tuning your pitch

tuning your pitch

子曰:「君子喻於義,小人喻於利。」
Confucius said: “A leader is concerned about what is right; a petty person is concerned about what is in his own interest.”

When you’re preparing a proposal, take some time to understand the needs and motivations of the person you’re going to pitch it to.

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Leadership lessons from Confucius: self-interest and great resentment

self-interest

子曰:「放於利而行,多怨。」
Confucius said: “People who act out of self-interest cause great resentment.” (1)

Whenever you are about to make a difficult decision, take a step back and examine your motives before pulling the trigger. Have you chosen a particular course of action because it is the right thing to do or because it is in your self-interest?

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Leadership lessons from Confucius: the path to virtue

path to virtue

子曰:「君子懷德,小人懷土;君子懷刑,小人懷惠。」
Confucius said: “A leader pursues virtue; a petty person pursues land. A leader pursues justice; a petty person pursues favors.”

What is your goal in life? To accumulate material comforts or to pursue a higher path?

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Leadership lessons from Confucius: a strong moral compass

moral compass

子曰:「君子之於天下也,無適也,無莫也,義之於比。」
Confucius said: “In dealing with the world, a leader has no prejudice or bias: he goes with what is right.”

Approach your day with an open mind. There will inevitably be problems that you need to address and differences of opinion that you have to resolve.

Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: a strong moral compass