Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a rising tide lifts all boats

Richard Brown
2 min readJun 3, 2019

Zigong said: “What about someone who acts generously towards the people and benefits the masses? Could that be described as goodness?” Confucius said: “Why stop at calling it goodness? It could be defined as perfection. Even Yao and Shun wouldn’t be able to match it! Good people help others get on their feet while establishing their own career; they help others to achieve their goals while achieving their own objectives. By standing in other people’s shoes, it can be said that they’re on the right track to goodness.”

A rising tide lifts all boats. Leadership is not just about improving your own effectiveness but also that of everyone around you. It requires building a platform that enables everyone to learn and grow.

No one is an island. It’s only by working together for the good of all that we can reach our individual potential.


This article features a translation of Chapter 30 of Book 6 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 6 here.

(1) Yao (堯) and Shun (舜) were two of the three legendary sage kings believed to have unified ancient China. They served as role models for building a stable and benevolent system of government.

I took this image at the Temple of Mencius in Zoucheng, a small town near to Qufu.



Richard Brown

I live in Taiwan and am interested in exploring what ancient Chinese philosophy can tell us about technology and the rise of modern China.