Leadership Lessons from Confucius: room to grow

The Duke of Zhou said to his son, the Duke of Lu: “An exemplary person does not neglect their relatives, nor do they give their ministers the opportunity to complain that their talents are not being fully employed. They do not dismiss old retainers without serious cause, nor do they demand all things from a single person.”

Do you allow the members of your team enough room to grow and show you what they are truly made of? Are you giving them the appropriate opportunities to flex their muscles and prove themselves? What barriers have you unconsciously put in place to prevent them from reaching their full potential?


This article features a translation of Chapter 10 of Book 18 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 18 here.

(1) The Duke of Zhou was granted the territory of Lu as a fiefdom by King Wu, the first ruler of the Zhou dynasty. Since he was too busy with court affairs to undertake the task himself, the duke had his eldest son Bo Qin (伯禽) appointed as Duke of Lu. The quote in this passage is believed to come from the speech given by the Duke of Zhou during the ceremony marking his son’s appointment. Bo Qin went on to rule the state from 1042 to 997 BCE.

(2) There does not seem to be any logical reason for including this passage unless it is simply to emphasize these strong historical ties between the state of Lu and the Zhou dynasty court. Still, the advice that the duke gives his son is solid enough.

I shot this image in a hillside temple on the Four Beasts near to Taipei.


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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.