PurposeThis paper aims to inquire and argue for a renovated model of Confucian political leadership as a way of political governance rooted in a philosophy of humanity and its potential for development.Design/methodology/approachThe paper is primarily critical and constructive through philosophical analysis and synthesis of ideas and insights into nature of man and political leadership in light of Confucian texts and practices.FindingsBased on reflection and analysis, the classical model of political leadership is shown to consist of core values of virtues and visions in classical Confucianism. By conceptual reconstruction a new Confucian model is formulated in such a way in which ethics of utilities and ethics of justice and righteousness are incorporated. The author further shows how it can be realized in different functions of modernized political and economic leadership. The author finds that this move resulted in achieving an essential transformation toward a more realistic application and practice in a global world.Practical implicationsIn so far as the new model deals with a process of normative harmonization in which it can be further enhanced by comprehensive considerations of intrinsic human values and future development of humanity as a whole, this model provides a practical method for meeting the urgent needs on different levels of leadership and management for creative and world‐oriented attitude‐building, policy‐making and strategic seminar‐course designing for graduate and executive training in contemporary business schools.Originality/valueThe author has innovatively constructed the new Confucian model and show how political leadership in this model has the capability and ability to persevere in seeking harmony and harmonization among traditions and nations in the global world. The author has also explained how and why morality when properly supported can be a global leading power for bringing harmony and harmonization to the world. The author has formed a new concept of political leadership force and named it the moral power in addition to but not separated in its persuasion from hard power, soft power and smart power of Joseph Nye. The author's formulation and argument for the new model with its moral power constitute a highly significant contribution to the understanding of Confucian political leadership in contemporary global contexts.

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