The Art of War has been regarded as THE book on strategy of the last century. The U.S. Marine Corps actually recommends the small book as part of its Professional ReadingProgram for the rank of Captain and above. This book is also a must read for any decision maker in the business world. Forbes recently published an article with some of the top leadership lessons to take away from the book, here are some of my favorites.
Lesson #1 Don’t Underestimate Your Importance As A Leader
commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness. (Chapter I, 9)
You should feel the weight of the responsibility that comes with leadership. Every leader is responsible for setting the highest standards of which anyone on your team can aspire to live/work by.
The principle on which to manage an army is to set up a standard of courage which all must reach. (XI, 32)
Lesson #2 Know The Difference Between Authority and Power
The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger. (I, 5-6)
The need for power suggests that you’ve already lost your authority. Your team should follow you without needing fear as a motivator. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t respect the authority you do have.
Lesson #3 Pause, Think, Act Decisively
Though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been associated with long delays. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare. (II)
The basic lesson is to not act without putting thought into your decision, but to not wait so long that you miss the opportunity. Your team is relying on you to make those decisions when they need to be made. Missed opportunities lead to a loss of faith in your ability to lead.
Lesson #4 Adapt
by attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army. This causes restlessness in the soldier’s minds. (III, 14)
Don’t use the “Scratch it Till It Bleeds” technique. Adapt to your circumstances. This includes the environment, the people you’re working with and the final goal you hope to achieve. The methods to use to manage your sales team might not work for your marketing department.