Tuesday, January 8, 2019

10 Servant Leadership lessons from "The Art of War" Book

Recently, I had a chance to read the book "Sun Tzu - The Art of War (Spirituality for Conflict)" by Thomas Huynh. Thomas Huynh has made an attempt to explain to the readers how "The Art of War" principles can be followed by ordinary individuals and corporates to effect a positive change in their life or company or community.  I learned a lot of Servant Leadership lessons from this book and I have captured some of them in this blog post.

Sun Tzu, who lived  several thousand years ago, was a military general and philosopher in China. He captured his wisdom for warfare in the book "The Art of War", which has been treasured for nearly 2500 years. Several notable personalities such as Colin Powell, Bruce Lee and Ronald Reagon were influenced by The Art of War.

1. Being practical and being compassionate are not mutually exclusive. Acting in a way that is both practical and compassionate has proved to be a secret weapon for success

2. Sun Tzu treated his soldiers like his own children, caring for their health and well-being. Even the captured enemy soldiers were not killed, but rather were treated well and incorporated into his own army

3. You don't have to be formally appointed to become a leader, you automatically become the defacto leader when you step-up and guide others out of a dilemma and into a better situation

4. Your leadership ability depends more on your actions, than on your official title, rank or status in life

5. Winning 100 times in 100 battles requires amazing skills and intelligence, but winning 100 times without fighting a single time demonstrates highest excellence. 

6. If you care about your supporters, you can discipline them and they in-turn will unite in purpose

7. Anger focuses your thoughts too much on yourself - your losses, your wants, your feelings and prevents you from dwelling compassionately on the needs and well being of others

8. Sun Tzu values leaders who can perform the basic, everyday tasks well over those who display flashy heroics in "isolated incidents"

9. The general who does not advance to seek glory or does not withdraw to avoid punishments, but cares for only the people's security and promotes the people's interests is the nation's treasure. 

10. The more you forget about yourself and shun glory, the more people will remember you and glorify you. 

Servant Leadership is a concept introduced by Robert Greenleaf in 1970. He says "The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead".  Sun Tzu talks about several leadership traits in his book "The Art of War", many of them resembling the Servant Leadership traits highlighted by Robert Greenleaf.  Today, several volunteering organizations and corporates practice the concept of Servent Leadership to maximise employee engagement, productivity and ownership. 

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