Leadership Lessons from Confucius: to the best of your ability
Zizhang asked about governance. Confucius said: “Execute the responsibilities of your office tirelessly. Carry out your duties faithfully.”
Even if you’re unhappy about the assignment you’ve been given, carry it out to the best of your ability. The more successful you are in executing it, the greater the levels of trust and respect you’ll gain from your colleagues and bosses. Once you have demonstrated your ability to deliver on your commitments, people will come to you with ever more interesting projects and opportunities that will expand the scope of your responsibilities and influence.
This article features a translation of Chapter 14 of Book 12 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 12 here.
(1) This is the first of a series of seven passages featuring advice from Confucius on how a leader (君子/jūnzǐ) should act. His key point is that a leader should set a shining example to everyone with their tireless devotion to their official duties, irreproachable personal and professional conduct, constant moral self-cultivation, and unstinting commitment to bringing the best out of others. Rather than attempt to impose their will on others through strict rules and penalties, a leader should seek to gain their trust and trust in order to build a greater sense of harmony and cohesion.