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I’ve been reading a lot recently. More specifically, what I’ve been reading is advice written up a few thousand years ago. It’s quite interesting advice too, as one can very easily see how society today is blatantly ignoring the most basic things human kind has discovered, a very long time ago. The authors I’ve read of so far are Sun Wu, Zhuge Lange, Liu Ji and Sun Bin. Most people will ask “Who are these guys? Never heard of them.” Well, all of those authors have a common denominator. They were all ancient martialists, Generals of armies. Sun Wu is more commonly known here in the West as Sun Tzu and Sun Bin is actually a direct descendant, sometimes referred to as Sun Tzu II.

An American Martial Arts Sensei has recently made a post as well on this topic : Etchical Leadership Returns to Fashion

How come leaders of the world have abandoned these teachings? There’s a lot of valuable lessons and advice from these Generals, which actually still do apply as readily today as they did over 2000 years ago. All I can surmise is, they have done so, because it is so much easier to get back handers when there is no real sense of loyalty to the people one is ruling. In other words, greed. Looking at how the Irish government has behaved over the last 10 years, this is blatantly obvious. However, no ruler here has been convicted of such things. Nor will they. Back handers and pats on the shoulder, a secret handshake, and you’re off the hook.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t just in Ireland I’m talking about. Have a look at just about any other country in the world, and you’ll see similar patterns. Do you really believe you’ll see President Bush or Prime Minister Blair on a war tribunal for what has been done to Afghanistan and Iraq? Hardly. Most notable pattern you’ll see is, make the rich richer and screw the people who are having a hard time. There’s so many people on this globe, the rulers don’t have to care about them, because if some die of decease new work force will have grown up soon enough. There is absolutely no shortage of work force on this planet. Just look at all the unemployment figures. Yes, even before the economic down turn.

So, leadership to me, when I do step into such roles, is about giving direction and then helping the ones I direct to actually perform their task. It’s about trust and loyalty. It’s about listening at least as much as talking. It’s about compassion as much as it is about control.

Leaders today, on all levels, have this belief that they should command and the ones below them should blindly follow. Try that with an army under fire. If you don’t have their loyalty and their trust, you simply do not have an army. Problem is, a lot of people think “well, at the workplace, I’m not a soldier, I’m a worker”. Sure, what is the real difference? There’s a common goal. There’s specific tasks needing to be done in specific order or at specific times. There’s stress. There’s times of relaxation (read: peace). There’s supply issues. There’s in short a heck of a lot that is in common. Principles for an army works just as well in the workplace.

So, this ancient set of books. These may well set the rules and governing controls for whatever may come along after the current way of ruling teams, companies, armies and countries collapse. Because collapse it surely must. This is inevitable.

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