Sun Tzu's Leadership and Strategic Principles

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Leadership Essay
Sun Tzu’s Leadership and Strategic Principles

PI – Leadership Course
Yasribur Rahman - ID#: 920013449

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Over the years, there have been many theories on leadership. But it was not until the 20th century that its importance was realized by people. The concept of leadership have been studied and published countless times. Most of us know what leadership is but not everyone knows what it takes to become an effective leader. One such leader, philosopher, warrior and creator of The Art of War is Sun Tzu.

Sun Wu was the military general of the Wu army who lived in around 500 BC, which later became to be known as China. During this period of rivalry and conflict, China was divided among city-states which were in constant war [1]. King of Wu, who hired Sun Wu to be his consultant, wanted to transform his region from an unsuccessful province to a booming economical state. Sun Wu submitted his will to his master and fulfilled his master’s ambition by uniting the provinces and the Yang Tze river valley under his King’s leadership. For his loyalty and contribution towards his King, he was given honor the title of Master, translated as Tzu, becoming Sun Tzu (Master Sun) [1]. According to [1], his book, The Art of War, has become one of the most advanced guides for highly competitive situations and environments. Sun Ping, one of the descendants of Sun Tzu, used the tactics from the Art of War to unify all the states into an empire which is currently known as Chine.

The Art of War is an ancient text which holds the keys to life and death in the situation of war. It is a philosophy on how conflicts are handled and the method to victory. Even though it contains text about militaristic operations and strategies, it still used today by political leaders and business managers. The Art of War contains strategies from a broad perspective, which means that it can not only be used by military generals, but also by people in leadership positions. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu used a combination of five traits to describe the qualities of an effective leader: Intelligence, Credibility, Humaneness, Courage, and Discipline [2]. These traits form the foundation of what is known as Sun Tzu’s five factor model.  In every organization, the process of conducting business is vastly affected by the culture and the tradition of the people working for that organization. Sun Tzu used to call this the Tao, referring to the way of conduct. The Tao has a huge influence on the organization by personnel of all level [2]. But leadership role in organizations is unique – leaders are assigned to set goals, gather support, and implement strategy to accomplish targets. These are the basic fundamental skills that a leader must harness in modern society to be an accomplished leader. Bu the fact is that, Sun Tzu has already described the five traits of an effective leader over 2500 years ago [1]. Eventually, the book offers a cohesive and comprehensive philosophy on how to approach strategy in a leadership position and for leaders adapt their behavior to the situation and followers.

Sun Tzu, in his book, emphasized the importance of intelligence and the ability of a general to analyze situations. These traits are necessary for developing skills that can give advantage over an enemy in a battle. The skill Sun Tzu is referring to is the ability to study landscape. An intelligent leader can interpret the terrain will provide the best position for attack or ambush [1]. It is equally to identify the location of the enemy for counter-attack. In the art of war, understanding your opponent is crucial to victory. Sun Tzu said, “Know your enemy and know yourself and in hundred battles you will never be in peril.” Intelligence is...
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