Can Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” make you a better business Leader?

Sun Tzu_ The art of war

Are you looking for a reliable self-help book on strategic management? The Art of War by Sun Tzu is one of the most popular and read strategy guides in history. In this latest book review, we give you some key takeaways that can help you as a business leader to run a successful business firm. 

The Art of War was originally written as an ancient Chinese book on military strategy. Its lessons serve as key strategies that you can use to manage a complex organization, business, or project more effectively. The book is a guide to winning any conflict or competition. You should consider studying the book to master its strategies, tactics, and manipulation. It is a book that any successful business leader would find useful in managing their firms.  

Related: Which are the best finance books in 2024?

My Key Takeaways from Sun Tzu’s Art of War 

Below are the key lessons I have personally come to appreciate. Please share yours in the comments section below.  

Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses 

parts of a business plan
According to Sun Tzu, A SWOT Analysis helps you understand your business and competitors for success

Sun Tzu advises you to know your strengths and weaknesses. As an individual or business, you must conduct internal and external analysis or simply a Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) Analysis.  

This will help you to know your core competencies and capabilities. These will be your enablers and opportunities for success. On the other hand, you must analyze your weaknesses. These will be your vulnerabilities that risk your success. You aim to minimize or prevent them from affecting your operations. 

Beyond understanding your strengths and weaknesses, it’s also good you learn those of your competitors. This will help you make informed decisions that will give you a competitive advantage in the market. 

Always Be Prepared 

Sun Tzu emphasizes the importance of planning and preparation in warfare. In business, preparation involves writing business plans, budgets, and other manuals. 

Business planning will help you identify and anticipate the key challenges you are likely to encounter in the future. You will also have a chance to develop contingency plans to overcome them.  

As a business leader, you must always be ready to respond to market changes, disruptive technologies, and competitors’ moves. You must also have a clear understanding of your customer’s needs and be prepared to meet them. 

Know Your Competitors 

According to Sun Tzu, to win in war, you must know your enemy well. Similarly, in business, it is advised that you understand your business rivals.  

To Study your competitors, focus on their strengths, weaknesses, strategies, and customers. These insights will help you to develop superior products and services. This way you can attract their customers while meeting the needs of the existing clients. Besides, it will give you a competitive advantage in the market. 

Focus on Your Customers 

One Emphasis of Sun Tzu is the need to understand your soldier’s needs. In business, the soldiers are mainly your customers. In addition, other stakeholders like authorities and workers form a core partner group.  

The key takeaways from this lesson to run a winning business are; 

  • Focus on understanding your stakeholders/running a customer-centered business 
  • Work to meet and exceed all your stakeholder needs and expectations.  

As a business leader, you must continuously seek feedback from them. Then use this information to improve your goods and or services to meet their changing needs. 

Develop & Communicate a Clear Strategy 

Sun Tzu emphasizes the importance of having a clear vision and communicating it effectively to your soldiers.  

In business, having a clear business strategy is essential to success. You must have a clear vision, mission, and objectives of where they want your business to go.  

 As a rule of thumb, develop a business plan and a business strategy for your vision. Your strategy must be communicated effectively to all employees. This way, everyone can understand the roles to play to achieve the company’s goals. 

Adapt to Changing Circumstances 

Finally, Sun Tzu stresses that in war, one must be flexible and adaptable. In business, being adaptable to changing circumstances is critical to your survival.  

As a must, be willing to learn and re-learn. When necessary, adjust your strategies, and embrace new technologies such as Artificial intelligence (AI) to remain competitive. 

In conclusion 

The Art of War by Sun Tzu provides timeless lessons that are still applicable in modern business management. Business leaders can learn from the book’s wisdom and apply it to their firms to achieve success. By understanding their strengths and weaknesses, being prepared, knowing their competitors, focusing on customers, developing a clear strategy, and adapting to changing circumstances, business leaders can run successful firms that thrive in the face of competition. 


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