15 Sep 2011

Rumors

趙孝成王七年,秦與趙兵相距長平,時趙奢已死,而藺相如病篤,趙使廉頗將攻秦,秦數敗趙軍,趙軍固壁不戰。秦數挑戰,廉頗不肯。趙王信秦之間。秦之間言曰:「秦之所惡,獨畏馬服君趙奢之子趙括為將耳。」趙王因以括為將,代廉頗。趙括既代廉頗,悉更約束,易置軍吏。秦將白起聞之,縱奇兵,詳敗走,而絕其糧道,分斷其軍為二,士卒離心。四十餘日,軍餓,趙括出銳卒自博戰,秦軍射殺趙括。括軍敗,數十萬之眾遂降秦,秦悉阬之。【史記•廉頗藺相如列傳】

“As a leader, one hears rumors about his staff from time to time. If you were the King of Zhao, how would you handle the situation?” asked my mentor one day.

My mentor rarely talks about Chinese history, so I knew it must be important. “With hindsight,” I answered, “sacking the general would of course be the worst option. I suppose I would not do anything.”

“If you have known your staff for years, you should understand his temperament and not be affected by rumors easily. Having said that, keeping silent is not good enough. Your staff is not stupid. He must have heard the rumor, too. If you do nothing, he would think you are plotting something. In this situation, I would tell the general that I heard some rumors but I believe in him.”

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