In this post, we learn that the Art of Strategy provides us with a template—model of leadership—for life experiences and dealing with conflict.
In Leadership As a Lens, we started a series on leadership models. And, to kick things off, we’re going back almost 2,500 years to learn from Sun Tzu… the great military strategist.
Why? You may ask.
First, Sun Tzu’s The Art of Strategy is probably the earliest leadership text.
What’s more, it provides us with a template—model of leadership—for life experiences and dealing with conflict. Now, before you think this is for military leaders, let me tell you it’s definitely not.
It is about overcoming obstacles.
Conflict is costly. Conflict affects people. It affects businesses. Conflict puts obstacles in the way of progress. Does that sound like an everyday circumstance?
Those who are skilled in executing strategy, bend the strategy of others without conflict. – Sun Tzu
Well, I think it does.
Daily, in one way or another, we face conflict in work and our personal lives. And, this is where Sun Tzu can help us.
The Art of Strategy is about resolving everyday conflicts. Those non-negotiable conflicts that stop us growing.
These affect our inner self, the place we live, our place of work, our deeply personal relationships, and those we work with every day. A destructive relationship, poor health or a dead-end job cannot be resolved through compromise. They are obstacles that must be overcome.
The Art of Strategy is to bend others to your cause without coming to conflict. And, it all begins with an understanding of the opponent.
The Original Situational Leadership
Hersey and Blanchard may have coined situational leadership theory, but it was Sun Tzu who first understood its significance.
Of course, Hersey and Blanchard’s model of situational leadership is not about non-negotiable conflict. It’s about adapting leadership styles according to the situation.
But to achieve this… we need a good awareness of the facts.
And so, Sun Tzu believed we must fully understand a situation before even considering confrontation. This means we:
- are clear about our goals and those of our opponent,
- have confidence in the probity and benefit of those goals,
- assess the difficulty of the challenge, and
- grasp the courage and determination of all parties to see them through.