Analects Book 13 is full of insightful advice from Confucius on how to be an effective leader, starting in the very first chapter with his counsel to Zilu to lead the people by example. Here are ten quotes on leadership from Confucius that are just as applicable today as they were when they were first spoken by the sage. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 13: ten quotes on leadership from Confucius
Confucius said: “A leader is easy to work for but hard to please. If you try to please them without following the proper way they won’t be happy, but they’ll only give you tasks you have the ability to carry out. A petty person is hard to work for, but easy to please. If you try to please them, even without following the proper way, they’ll be happy, but they’ll demand that you have the ability to do anything.”
Be honest with yourself. Are you easy to work for? Do you set clear expectations for your staff and pay close attention to their progress or do you throw them in the deep end to see if they sink or swim? Do you respond more positively to staff who suck up to you or those who are willing to challenge you when they think you’re going in the wrong direction? Perhaps amid the endless pile of issues you find yourself having to deal with during your day, you don’t even notice inconsistencies in the way you treat your staff or react to news and events. Better take a step back and reflect on how you actually lead your team before your best people decide it’s time to jump ship. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: easy to work for?
Confucius said: “A leader strives for harmony but not conformity. A petty person strives for conformity but not harmony.”
It’s never easy to handle differences in opinion between your team members, but your responsibility as a leader is to harmonize the diverse notes of opinion into a single coherent tune that everyone can agree to play like the musicians in an orchestra. Achieving harmony is a lot more difficult in the early stages of the process than imposing conformity, but the long-term results are far more positive and lasting. While harmony provides a framework for promoting the frank and exchange of ideas, conformity kills discussion and creativity. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: harmony but not conformity
Confucius made regular use of the device of comparing the lofty values of a leader (君子/jūnzǐ) with the base instincts of a petty person (小人/xiǎorén). In 4.11, for example, he comments that while the former pursues virtue and justice, the latter only cares about the accumulation of material possessions and gaining favors. Leaders thus focus on improving themselves in order to better contribute to the common good of society, while petty or small-minded people are only concerned with extracting as many personal benefits as possible from it. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 4: virtue never stands alone
Confucius said: “A leader is calm and at ease; a petty person is anxious and on edge.”
Leadership is about being comfortable with yourself and confident in your ability to handle whatever comes flying at you in this rapidly changing world. At its base is a strong ethical foundation that enables you to lead a productive personal and family life and contribute to your community and society at large. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: calm and at ease
Confucius said: “A leader is concerned about what is right; a petty person is concerned about what is in their 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.
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?
Confucius said: “A leader creates unity without taking sides. A petty person takes sides without creating unity.” (1)
There are always going to be naysayers sniping away in the background when you implement a new initiative, but that shouldn’t discourage you from going ahead with it. Your role as a leader as a leader is to rise above the negativity and generate unity around your plan. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: creating unity