Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a strong team

Confucius said: “Whenever a government edict needed to be written, Bi Chen prepared the first draft, Shi Shu reviewed and revised it, Ziyu, the head of protocol, edited it, and Zichan of Dongli gave it a final polish.”

Never underestimate the importance of building a strong team around you: one that is diverse and complementary in terms of personalities, perspectives, and skill sets. Without a strong team, you will struggle to grow and reach your full potential.

This article features a translation of Chapter 8 of Book 14 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 14 here.

(1) Confucius was a great admirer of Zichan, the chief minister of Zheng (鄭國) from 544 BCE until 522 BCE who drove the implementation of extensive government, agriculture, business, and social reforms in the state. Zichan was a skillful diplomat who managed to keep his small state independent despite being surrounded by powerful neighbors that only required the slightest provocation to invade and occupy it. Given his many achievements, it’s not surprising therefore that Zichan was also a highly effective leader with the ability to judge the skills and characters of his officials and employ them in the right capacities. As a result, he was able to build a smooth-running bureaucratic machine that worked as a harmonious team in the effective execution of his reforms.

I took the top image at the Zhusi Academy in Qufu. Confucius is said to have taught his students here after returning to Lu from exile in around 483 BCE, as well as compiling or editing the Book of Songs, Book of History, Book of Ritual, Book of Music, and Book of Changes.

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