Leadership Lessons From The Art of War

Mark Wager is a world authority on Leadership Psychology. Mark can be contacted at   The most definite work on leadership was not written by Donald Trump or Richard
29 Aug 2015 10:22
Leadership Lessons From The Art of War
The Art of War cover.

Mark Wager is a world authority on Leadership Psychology. Mark can be contacted at


The most definite work on leadership was not written by Donald Trump or Richard Branson. It was written over 2500 years ago by a Chinese military strategist.

Sun Tzu was a Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher born in 544 B.C.

Sun Tzu wrote a guide to warfare and strategy entitled “The Art of War” which has gone on to become the most famous book in the world on strategy.

Its teachings have been credited for assisting victories on the battlefields, on the sports field and in the boardroom.

Today “The Art of War” is required reading in the United States military and CIA training rooms as well as boardrooms around the world.

The Art of War was written for the battlefield but its lessons are still used effectively in boardrooms all around the world, in the past, present and will certainly be used in the years to come.


Knowledge is the key to success:

  • Wars during history were not always won by the biggest armies but by the smartest armies.
  • If you want to be successful then remember the deciding factor that will determine the difference between success and failure will be found in your mind and not in your hands.
  • The first step towards knowledge and therefore success is self-awareness.
  • You need to know not only yours and your opponents strengths and weaknesses but you need to know why people react in the way they do.
  • It’s vital for today’s leaders to have knowledge of leadership psychology.


Take responsibility for providing clear instructions

  • During my time as a manager, I believe that approximately 90 per cent of all performance/ HR issues are as a result of miscommunication.
  • If you want the role of a Leader, then the responsibility of communication resides with you.
  • When communicating, if you don’t get the reaction that you want then you are not communicating in the correct way.
  • Adapt your communication and try again in a different way.
  • If you’ve communicated in different ways and your message is still not understood then it’s the fault of the listener but never forget that the original responsibility is yours.



  • Whether you succeed or not is determined by your the level of the preparation and not in the final execution.
  • Determine your goal then work out the strategy to achieve that goal, then the necessary tactics which will give your strategy life and finally the individual tasks that are produced as a result of your tactics.


Lead by example

  • You can pay or even force people to do tasks and they will do it with all their energy.
  • But if they work for you because they believe in you as a leader, then they will work with all their heart and you will be amazed with what they can achieve.
  • If you want passion, loyalty, honour and commitment then you need to lead by example in order to each your teams respect rather than demand it.
  • This is what distinguishes a leader from a manager.


Care for people

  • Everyone at some level wants to be valued for who they are instead of what they do.
  • If you want to be a Leader of people then they will only follow if they believe that you care for them.
  • The most valuable resource of any team is its people so it is logical that you should allocate a sizeable amount of your team into investing in these people.
  • Find out who they are, their background, their ambitions, their dreams and it is in these details that you will find the clues that will unlock the loyalty and passion that you are looking for.





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