Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a different way
Confucius said: “There is no point in seeking advice from people who follow a different way.”
While it is always useful to hear the perspectives of other people on a particular subject, that does not mean you have an obligation to follow any advice that they may choose to impart on it. Your role as a leader is to evaluate all the feedback you receive and use your best judgment to come to a decision that is in the best interests of your team and organization. Just because the engineering team believes that they have created a world-beating product does not mean that the sales team think it is ready for market.
This article features a translation of Chapter 40 of Book 15 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 15 here.
(1) Even though (道/dào), meaning way or path, is now primarily identified with Daoism, in ancient China it was a generic term that was used to describe many different philosophical and religious schools of thought. In this passage, Confucius is most likely warning people against being seduced by the teachings of other schools that diverged from the path that he advocated. Most notably, he was highly critical the primitivist recluses of his time who withdrew from their social duties in favor of a simple life in the countryside. See 14.38, 14.39, 18.5, 18.6, and 18.7.
(2) Another possible interpretation of this passage is that Confucius saw little possibility of meaningful collaboration between people holding wildly divergent viewpoints.
I took this image at the Mencius Cemetery in Qufu.