08 January 2009

Zhuge Liang's 15 Attributes of a Champion.

Being a big fan of the Romance of Three Kingdoms and of course its main character, Zhuge Liang, I have always been thinking hard in deploying some of the tactics/strategies as used and practised by Zhuge Liang into business. In this case, putting the military strategies to test and converting these strategies into proper business ethics and policies.

Zhuge Liang had mentioned that the most important person in a battle is the Military Leader, or in modern day words, the General. In the construction industry, this position generally mean anyone who's in the upper level management positions, ranging from the Project Managers, Senior Project Managers, General Managers, right up to the Chief Executive Officer.

Zhuge Liang had wrote that "The source of all defeat comes from underestimating your enemy." This is a very true statement - and mind you, many business leaders around the world have fallen due to this. Many large corporations have collapsed due to the faltering economy. Big boys such as Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers just to name a few have fallen prey and were 'defeated' because they had underestimated their enemy.

Their enemy here is the global economy - or I should say, the market forces.

Zhuge Liang has got 15 main attributes that is a must in a leader or champion. I shall take this 15 main attributes for a military leader and adapt it accordingly for my industry.

1. Gathering Intelligence
Zhuge Liang had always relied on spies during then to obtain additional information. Today, for construction, this is a key point in a leader - he has to be able to obtain intelligence through various people around him. For the industry, he has to be able to obtain certain classified information - or more in-depth information of the 'enemy'.

2. Information
This is somehow very similar to the first attribute. But this relates to the basic information. You may have all the classified information - but if the fundamentals are not there, any special information may not be enough to see off your enemy.

3. Bravery
Zhuge Liang had always shown no fear in his battles. Any of his key Generals who showed fear were usually beheaded and removed from battle. In this case, I do not think I am going to murder anyone - but I do believe that bravery is another key point in a leader. A confident person is a brave person.

4. Selflessness
I am very supportive of this attribute. Selflessness can mean many things, but in Zhuge Liang's context, it is to be not selfish and not be moved by personal benefits. In the business, a leader who is influenced by personal benefits or profits is considered to be a corrupted leader. I always put the Company before any personal agenda and I would expect all the leaders below me to be the same.

5. Equality
Most office politics and corporate collapses starts from biasness. When the CEO of the corporation decides to be bias and reward or punish without equality, it will create an undesirable amount of dissatisfaction - hence, unnecessary agendas in the minds of the employees.

6. Patience
Patience is a key element not just in business or war, but in life. There are many leaders who fail because they are impatient to wait out the storms and so on, and many who cant wait to hear the results. These leaders are actually bringing the company to fail because they are impatient.

7. Compassion
A leader needs to have a certain amount of compassion. He must be willing to forgive those who have repented, and those who admit their mistakes. However, he must be also willing to eliminate those who never learn.

8. Trust
As per attribute 4, Trust is the most important element. Without Trust, no business can go through; no partnership can work and no war can be won.

9. Respect
Give your respect to those above and below you and be respected. Respect here is not just this part, but Zhuge Liang also highlighted "recruit those who have greater skills that yourself." Do bear in mind that Bill Gates, the world's richest man might seem like a very smart person - but the guys he is employing are way smarter, with PhDs and Masters and super-high qualifications.

10. Wisdom
The leader must be willing to listen to opinions, but must have the wisdom to judge the quality and accuracy of these opinions.

11. Humbleness
This is a common failure amongst leaders. Those who become overly arrogant tend to overlook the small details which lead to their downfall.

12. Lovingkindness
Love those working under you as though they are your own children. Educate them and train them well. This is not just for war and battles, but in construction, education and training for the lower levels is a good form of succession planning.

13. Loyalty
Zhuge Liang called for the soldiers and leaders to sacrifice themselves for the good of the country. I'm not asking for my staffs to sacrifice themselves, but do sacrifice the time and effort put in. There needs to be a balance between work and family, and I personally believe that it is NOT 50-50. Work will always come first, for without work, the family will suffer.

14. Discrimination
Avoid discrimination of any kind.

15. Strategy
The simplest of them all - but yet the toughest. Know yourself and your own strategy and planning - and know your enemy's too.

Thats about all the key elements required to be a good champion.

P.S. Any interested applicants?


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