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15 Leadership Strategies From Ancient Chinese Wisdom – Sun Tzu’s Art Of War

15 Leadership Strategies From Ancient Chinese Wisdom – Sun Tzu’s Art Of War

Sun Tzu’s Art Of War is believed to have been written in the sixth century or 512 BCE (Before Common Era). The text is considered to be one of the Seven Military Classics in China. The work is considered poetic, in its great wisdom. Now the famed classic may be used to determine leadership qualities, as well as, strategies in business.

1. Never Lead By Force

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    • “The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness.”
    • “The consummate leader cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success.”
    • “Hence in the wise leader’s plans, considerations of advantage and of disadvantage will be blended together.”

    2. Know The Competition

    • “Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder and crush him.’
    • “If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.”
    • “So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.

    3. Doing Nothing Is Better Than Acting Out Of Fear

    • “If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.”
    • Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a
      hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer
      a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
    • “The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and
      destroy its victim.”

    4. Always Plan Ahead

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      • “Hence the saying: The enlightened ruler lays his plans well ahead; the good general cultivates his resources.”
      • “By altering his arrangements and changing his plans, he keeps the enemy without definite
        knowledge. By shifting his camp and taking circuitous routes, he prevents the enemy from anticipating
        his purpose.”
      • “According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one’s plans.”

       5. Refrain From Decision-Making When Angry

      • “No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique.”
      • “Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence
        consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”
      • “Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting; he captures their
        cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the
        field.”

      6. Study The Competition

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        • “He who knows things, and in fighting puts his knowledge into practice, will win his battles. He who knows them not, nor practices them, will surely be defeated.”
        • Carefully compare the opposing army with your own, so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient.”
        • “What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.”

        7. Use Your Team Wisely

        • “The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals. Hence his ability to pick out the right men and utilize combined energy.”
        • “When he utilizes combined energy, his fighting men become as it were like unto rolling logs or stones. For it is the nature of a log or stone to remain motionless on level ground, and to move when on a slope; if four-cornered, to come to a standstill, but if round-shaped to go rolling down.”
        • “If there is disturbance in the camp, the general’s authority is weak. If the banners and flags are shifted about, sedition is afoot. If the officers are angry, it means that the men are weary.”

        8. Act Like A Leader

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          • “It is the business of a general to be quiet and thus ensure secrecy; upright and just, and thus maintain order.”
          • “He must be able to mystify his officers and men by false reports and appearances, and thus keep them in total ignorance.”
          • “Bestow rewards without regard to rule, issue orders without regard to previous arrangements; and you will be able to handle a whole army as though you had to do with but a single man.”

           9. Trust Yourself

          • “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”
          • He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.”
          • “He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.”

          10. Think Strategically

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            • “With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery of the Empire, and thus, without losing a man, his
              triumph will be complete. This is the method of attacking by stratagem.”
            • “It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy’s one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack
              him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two.”
            • “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”

            11. Know Yourself

            • If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
            • “He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.”
            • “Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”

            12. Think Diplomatically

            •  “All warfare is based on deception.”
            • “If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow
              arrogant.”
            • “Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated
              with long delays.”

            13. Never Lose Sight Of The Goal

            • “In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.”
            • “He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.”
            • “To see victory only when it is within the ken of the common herd is not the acme of excellence.”

            14. Have A Plan

            • “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
            • “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
            • “When strong, avoid them. If of high morale, depress them. Seem humble to fill them with conceit. If at ease, exhaust them. If united, separate them. Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise.”

            15. Know When To Quit

            • “When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.”
            • “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”
            • “Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.”

             

             

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            Last Updated on January 6, 2021

            14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

            14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

            Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

            In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

            For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

            For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

            Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

            Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

            Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

            How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

            Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

            1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

            Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

            For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

            2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

            Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

            Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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            Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

            3. Create a System

            Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

            This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

            You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

            Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

            Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

            4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

            We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

            If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

            Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

            Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

            5. Use a Ratings Scale

            Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

            Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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            It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

            6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

            This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

            You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

            You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

            7. Offer Feedback Forms

            Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

            First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

            Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

            You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

            8. Track Cost Effectiveness

            This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

            Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

            Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

            9. Use Self-Evaluations

            Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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            Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

            10. Monitor Time Management

            This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

            Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

              The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

              While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

              11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

              We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

              Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

              For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

              Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

              Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

              From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

              12. Utilize Peer Feedback

              This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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              Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

              Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

              It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

              13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

              When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

              Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

              Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

              14. Use an External Evaluator

              Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

              They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

              While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

              Final Thoughts

              These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

              The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

              The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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              Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

              Reference

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