Tag Archives: Confucius on leadership

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?

Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: self-interest and great resentment

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?

Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the path to virtue

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

Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on leadership qualities

BJCT03-L

Leadership wasn’t a theoretical concept to Confucius. It was rather a set of qualities and behaviors that you as a leader (君子/jūnzǐ) should cultivate in order to guide your thoughts and actions. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on leadership qualities

Leadership lessons from Confucius: kindness and respect

kindness and respect

或謂孔子曰:「子奚不為政?」子曰:「書云:『孝乎惟孝,友于兄弟,施於有政。』是亦為政,奚其為為政?」
Someone asked Confucius: “Sir, why don’t you take part in government?” Confucius replied: “In the Book of Documents it says: ‘By being filial to your parents and being kind to your brothers, you’re already contributing to the smooth running of the government.’ Since I’m already doing this, why do I need to take part in government?” (1)

You don’t need to have an official title in order to assume a leadership position in your organization or community. By being kind and considerate towards the people around you, you will soon be able to gain their trust and confidence. The more you show that you appreciate the suggestions and feedback they give you, the more they will appreciate the suggestions and feedback you give them. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: kindness and respect

Leadership lessons from Confucius: position power

Temple of Yan Hui: position power

季康子問:「使民敬忠以勸,如之何?」子曰:「臨之以莊則敬,孝慈則忠,舉善而教不能則勸。」
Ji Kangzi asked: “What should I do to make the people respectful, loyal, and diligent? Confucius said: “Treat them with dignity, and they will be respectful. Be filial to your parents and kind to the young, and they will be loyal. Promote those who are capable and teach those who are not, and they will be diligent.” (1)

Position power will only get you so far. No matter how grand your title is, people will only show you respect if you treat them in the same way. They will only show you loyalty if you act in the same manner. They will only work hard if you reward high performance and provide opportunities for everyone to achieve the same level. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: position power

Leadership lessons from Confucius: on integrity

Temple of Yan Hui: integrity

哀公問曰:「何為則民服?」孔子對曰:「舉直錯諸枉,則民服;舉枉錯諸直,則民不服。」
Duke Ai asked: “What should I do to win the support of the people?” Confucius replied: “Promote the upright and place them above the crooked, and the people will support you. Promote the crooked and place them above the upright, and the people will not support you.” (1) (2)

What criteria do you use to select people for leadership positions in your organization? Talent is critical of course. So too is a strong track record of delivering results. Excellent interpersonal and communication skills are also vital. The list is endless. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: on integrity

Leadership lessons from Confucius: dumb questions

dumb questions

子曰:「由!誨女知之乎!知之為知之,不知為不知,是知也。」
Confucius said: “Zilu, let me tell you what knowledge means. Knowing what you know and what you don’t know. That is what knowledge means.”

It can be very tempting to pretend that you understand what someone is droning on about during a meeting or presentation out of fear of looking stupid in front of everyone else. Tempting but stupid, because the likelihood is that if you don’t have the foggiest idea of what the person is talking about then most of the other people in the room don’t either! Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: dumb questions

Leadership lessons from Confucius: between the two extremes

Temple of Yan Hui

子曰:「攻乎異端,斯害也己。」
Confucius said: “Focusing your attention only on the extremes will lead to nothing but harm.” (1)

How to make sense of what is really happening on the ground when our media and social media channels are filled with loud screeching voices proclaiming the end of the world as we know it and demanding instant solutions to an infinite number of “existential” crises? Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: between the two extremes