Tag Archives: Ziyou

Leadership lessons from Confucius: good people

good people

When Ziyou became governor of Wucheng, Confucius asked him: “Have you managed to find any good people there?” He replied: “There’s one called Tantai Mieming. He takes no shortcuts and has never visited me at home except on official business.” (1) (2)

It’s never easy to take over the management of a team you’ve never worked with before. It takes time to get to know everyone and learn who the good people are. Even though you should of course be friendly towards your new staff, it also pays to draw a line and let them know the types of behavior that you will not tolerate. You need to make it clear that you’re their boss, after all, not their friend. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: good people

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a greatly under-appreciated virtue

under-appreciated virtue

Ziyou said: “In the service of a lord, overzealousness brings disgrace; in the company of friends, it brings estrangement.” (1)

You don’t have all the answers. Even if you did, your boss or your friends would soon get tired of hearing you spout your wit and wisdom at every opportunity. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a greatly under-appreciated virtue

Zizhang gets a kicking

Ziyou said: “My friend Zizhang is a man of great ability, but he has not yet achieved goodness.”

Zengzi said: “Zizhang is so full of himself that it is difficult to cultivate goodness by his side.”

I presume that it wasn’t an editorial accident that these two put-downs of Zizhang are paired together. Continue reading Zizhang gets a kicking

The pursuit of major virtues

Zixia said: “As long as you don’t overstep the bounds when it comes to major virtues, it doesn’t matter if you take the occasional liberty with minor ones.”

Just as Zixia urged his students to focus on reaching their most important goals rather than wasting their time on minor diversions in Chapter IV of Book 19, he was willing to overlook minor missteps from them if they showed they were fully committed to the pursuit of the major virtues. Continue reading The pursuit of major virtues

Just a joke

Confucius went to Wucheng. When he heard the sound of stringed instruments and singing, he was amused and broke out into a smile: “Why use an ox cleaver to kill a chicken?” Ziyou replied: “Master, in the past I have heard you say: ‘A leader who has been instructed in the Way loves all people; common people who have been instructed in the Way are easy to govern.’” Confucius said: “My friends, Ziyou is right. The remarks I made a moment ago were just a joke.”

Humor doesn’t exactly abound in the Analects. Judging by this incident, in which Confucius’s attempt at what he claims to be a joke spectacularly backfires and he is forced to backtrack in the face of his disciple Ziyou’s indignant protests, that’s probably a good thing. Continue reading Just a joke