Leadership Lessons from Confucius: good people

Richard Brown
2 min readMay 12, 2019

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.”

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.


This article features a translation of Chapter 14 of Book 6 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 6 here.

(1) Ziyou became a follower of Confucius when the sage was already an old man. Confucius had a high regard for his literary skills and praised him for the excellent work did as governor of Wucheng.

(2) There is some controversy over the exact identity of Tantai Mieming. According to the Records of the Historian (not always the most reliable of sources), he was so ugly that the first time Confucius met him he mistook him for being stupid. It was only later that the sage realized his error and grew to appreciate him for his exemplary moral conduct.

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.