Tag Archives: Confucius on the petty person

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: easy to work for?

easy to work for

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.”
子曰:「君子易事而難說也,說之不以道,不說也,及其使人也,器之。小人難事而易說也,說之雖不以道,說也,及其使人也,求備焉。」

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?

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: harmony but not conformity

harmony but not conformity

Confucius said: “A leader strives for harmony but not conformity. A petty person strives for conformity but not harmony.”
子曰:「君子和而不同,小人同而不和。」

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

Analects of Confucius Book 4: virtue never stands alone

Virtue

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

Leadership lessons from Confucius: calm and at ease

calm and at ease

子曰:「君子坦蕩蕩,小人長戚戚。」
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

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 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.

Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: tuning your pitch

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: creating unity

Temple of Yan Hui: unity

子曰:「君子周而不比,小人比而不周。」
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