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Lessons taught by Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” to become a successful leader.

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Ardent readers say books are a man’s best friend. Arguably, they are the best source of information one can have in any situation of life. They help you in difficult circumstances, and if you are open enough to perceive, books can prove to be a great source for gaining life lessons. For instance, Sun Tzu’s book, “The Art of War.” The book was written in 476 B.C but is still a popular source of learning. Many people have transformed their lives using this book as a source of motivation. While essentially this book is based on the topic of winning wars, the book very well teaches Leadership and management lessons in a way that few other books do. A war is won only by someone who has mastered the art of leadership. In the modern scenario, while there aren’t any wars to win, leadership is an important trait that one must have to excel in life. The book eloquently addresses the topic of leadership and what are the traits and qualities a leader must possess to become a great one. Here are some lessons backed by quotes from the book to help you learn the traits of leadership and master the art of management.

Being knowledgeable pays off

The crucial and central theme of Sun Tzu’s “art of war” is to accumulate information and knowledge as the main weapon of ‘attack.’ If you know more than others, you automatically have the edge over others. The book draws the analogy that war is won by those commanders who knows the capabilities of his army and can anticipate the strategies of opponents. The same analogy can be mapped as a leadership lesson; when you know more, you become better than others. If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you don’t have to fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, then for every victory you will have a defeat. If you do not know the enemy or yourself, you are doomed to fail. The book says:

”If you know others and you know yourself, you won’t be in danger in a hundred battles.” Sun Tzu

Plan for the future. Be innovative.

The book gives another important lesson that makes a person a great leader who is never to become complacent. Plan and innovate, keeping the future in mind. Instead of waiting for a new competitor to come out and put your business at risk, you must take the initiative. Innovate, be the first in your area with the resources you have. Remember that work and inspiration help your employees to follow you, and that is one thing that people in the field of management should never forget. The book says:

It is advisable to take time in the planning and coordination of the plan.

Never get carried away by force

The force leads to nothing. One important trait of leadership is that you must be able to cultivate morals and discipline. If you treat your team with rudeness, blows, and bad intentions, your role as a leader will be in doubt in front of everyone. The book says:

Disorder comes from order, cowardice arises from value, weakness springs from force.

Sympathize with others

There is a word that sums up the dictionary very well: empathy. But it’s not just about “being empathetic” but about giving it the importance that each follower and each employee deserves.

Triumphs and failures are assumed as a group without seeking a specific culprit. The best example you can see today is that of the conductor of an orchestra; the best results are produced when all the members are in sync. Be sympathetic towards others; it is an important trait when it comes to excelling at leadership skills. The book says:

Consider your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you to the deepest valleys

If you are sincere, your team will not doubt you

You need to believe in yourself and be sincere with your work, which is the only way to make your team believe in you. If you are unfaithful with your work and have shabby work ethics, then your team will not be able to perform in harmony. The ability to keep your word and your decisions for a long time is the key to prove to your employees that you have ideals. If you change with each fashion, your followers will only think that you are an opportunist and will not see anything new in you. The world is full of opportunists, and they will start looking the other way to see if they get what they are looking for. The book says:

The orders are reasonable, fair, simple, clear and consistent, foster reciprocal satisfaction between the leader and the group.

Maintaining discipline will lead you to success

A good leader gets rid of employees that damage the morale of the rest of the team. Here the point is not only to fire those who do not achieve the objectives but to take care that the bad example does not spread. It is essential to make sure that your team is disciplined and the mischievous ones are dealt with. A disciplined team is the one that will achieve results. The book says:

Prohibit the omens to avoid doubts.

If you are brave, you will seize the opportunities without hesitation

Not only is it enough to take advantage of social changes to change in your company. Precisely a good leader is able to risk and encourage the necessary changes. A leader must have a cool head to have a vision, know how to listen to his followers and employees, and make decisions that everyone would be willing to make. The book says:

”The opportunity to defeat the enemy is provided by himself.” Sun Tzu

Avoid making decisions when you are upset

A good leader has the ability to make decisions in all circumstances, but a good leader also knows when to take time to think about his possibilities. Usually, when someone is upset, he makes the worst decisions for himself, for his employees and for companies. That is the time you step back and avoid making decisions, which might be a source of regret later on. The book says:

You should never attack in anger and in a hurry.

Do not attack the strengths, attack the weaknesses

It seems a bit logical, right? But many leaders forget that competition weaknesses are the main resources to succeed. If you focus on wasting energy to discredit the enemy, you will lose many opportunities to develop your own strengths. Attacking the weakness is what a good leader does. Attacking the strengths of the enemy takes away the power, whereas attacking the weakness gives you the upper hand.

Adaptability and perseverance

One of the primary traits necessary for being a successful leader is to have the ability to adapt and persevere. A leader must acknowledge the fact that situations might not always turn out as they were planned. The key to winning is to have the ability to adapt and give your best in every situation. Perseverance has allowed leaders to turn adverse situations in their favor. The book says: 

That the speed is that of the wind, and being compact as a forest is.

Trust yourself

In The Art of War, Sun Tzu emphasizes trusting his ideals, his abilities, and those of his employees. When a leader shows signs of weakness and does not involve those who can advise him, he is destined to fail resoundingly. Believe in your abilities, in your experience, and be honest with everyone so you can find the healthiest means to achieve everyone’s goal.

If both your enemy and you are ignorant, then you are in a certain danger.

Act according to the situation

You should try to have the sanity necessary to know when a strategy does not work to change it immediately. One strategy that might pay off in one situation would probably fail badly in another situation. The key is to know what the situation at hand demands and devise a strategy accordingly. 

He who knows when he can fly and when not, will be victorious.

Good leadership even in difficult times

If you are only a good leader when the business is going well, you would only be regarded as an opportunist. And if you are only a good leader in bad times, you are also an opportunist of need. Be true to your ideals and keep treating others in a very decent manner so that everyone remains content with your leadership and contributes their ideas in the most difficult times.

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