Joseph CHAN, Elton CHAN

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For over two millennia, Confucianism has placed great emphasis on the importance of leadership in bringing about a good political order that not only takes care of the practical matters, but also generates a mutually trusting relationship between those who govern and those who are governed. To illustrate this notion of leadership, this chapter explores various aspects of Confucian leadership; it argues that, despite the fact that it is demanding to be a good leader, Confucianism insists that anyone can become one. All one needs to do is to pay attention to his or her virtuous nature as a human being and persistently develop in accordance with such nature. This chapter is divided into nine sections. Sections 1–3 seek to explicate the ideal ruler–ruled relationship and the importance of leadership relative to other factors such as institution in politics. Sections 4–7 shed light on different aspects of Confucian leadership. Section 8 briefly explains Confucianism’s view on how political leaders can be identified and selected. Section 9 offers an overview of the Confucian notion of political leadership.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Political Leadership
EditorsR.A.W. RHODES, Paul 't HART
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199653881
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Confucianism
  • leadership
  • virtue
  • institution
  • ruler–ruled relationship


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