There are thousands of business books lining the shelves of corporate spaces detailing how you can be a better business leader. From Tony Robbins to Dale Carnegie, each one has something different to offer, but there is one book you’ll find on some of the top Fortune 500 companies CEOs’ bookshelves that you might not expect. The Art of War is ancient Chinese militarily treatise written by the ancient Chinese military strategic genius Sun Tzu and is comprised of 13 chapters devoted to various aspects of warfare and their application to military tactics and strategy. Although the book was written over 2600 years ago, the business and leadership lessons that can be gleaned have stood the test of time.

Within this article, we will look at just three of the valuable lessons contained within the book to take away from one of the greatest leaders and strategists to ever walk the earth.

Maximise the potential of your employees by developing your character

“When one treats people with benevolence, justice and righteousness, and reposes confidence in them, the army will be united in mind and all will be happy to serve their leaders.” Sun Tzu

Maximising the tremendous potential of your employees and implementing these detailed strategic concepts requires a certain kind of leader. Within the Art of War, Sun Tzu details the various traits and characteristics of a preferred type of leader; including sincerity, humanity, courageousness and the ability to be strict and wise. Make sure your employees’ needs are met before your own, or as Sun Tzu puts it, be “first in the toils and fatigues of the army”.

Leading by example

“A leader leads by example, not by force.” Sun Tzu

Being somewhat of a dictator is a surefire way to build resentment within your workforce. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t expect your instructions to be followed, rather it’s the manner in which you provide them. Leading by example shows your employees you are all part of the same team and can help foster respect and admiration.

Treat your employees with respect and dignity

“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.” Sun Tzu

See your workforce as somewhat of a family, to be treated with respect dignity and compassion and they will happily march with you towards your most ambitious business goals. This can potentially be interpreted as being understanding when employees are going through a rough time, and helping in whatever way you can, or providing your employees with whatever tangible and intangible benefits you would like if you were in their position.

If you would like to learn more about how to become a better leader and take your business to the next level, then contact the team at to find out more.