Wednesday, August 11, 2010

When the economy has the force of momentum, even the timid become brave; when it loses the force of momentum, even the brave become timid.

“It is easy to get people to act by means of the force of momentum, whereas it is hard to demand power in individual people." Sun Tzu, The Art of War

These words were written by Sun Tzu over 2000 years ago and they still apply today.

When the economy was flying, everyone was brave. Companies invested capital in their futures. People bought homes and cars.

Now that we are in a recession, where are all the leaders? It’s hard for one company or one person to stand up against the economic forces.

Sun Tzu speaks about strategy, leadership, execution and motivation, all important in today's competitive environment.

On Strategy - “When your strategy is deep and far-reaching, then what you gain by your calculations is much, so you can win before you even fight. When your strategic thinking is shallow and near-sighted, then what you gain by your calculations is little, so you loose before you do battle…

…Therefore it is said that victorious warriors win first then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first then seek to win.”

How many companies and individuals had near-sighted strategies? They were defeated as soon as the economy turned. They are loosing their homes/companies and entering bankruptcy. Those that didn’t leverage themselves into too much debt and those that had a sound long term business/financial plan are going to win during this difficult time and emerge even stronger.

On Leadership - “The difficulty in finding good leadership material is a perennial problem”

It was just as true centuries ago as it is today. You can not win without good people. Do you actively recruit even when you don’t have openings? Do you practice succession planning? Do you have a sound internal training program and career path?

On Execution - “When directives are consistently carried out to edify the populace, the populace accepts. When directives are not consistently carried out to edify the populace, the populace does not accept. When directives are consistently carried out, there is mutual satisfaction between the leadership and the group.”

How many times has senior management given one direction only to change or contradict it later? If you have determined a sound strategy then move forward with consistent directions. You will get better results and build a strong motivated team.

On Motivation - “Roll rocks down a ten thousand foot mountain, and they cannot be stopped – this is because of the mountain, not the rocks. Get people to fight with the courage to win every time, and the strong and weak unite – this is because momentum, not the individuals.”

If you get your team motivated, if you get them all moving in the same direction then momentum will take over. With momentum you can overcome obstacles and your competition.

This is one of my favorite books. I re-read it regularly and recommend it for any business professional no matter what industry they are in.

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Mark Libell

1 comment:

  1. "you cannot win without good people" I can't agree more. Some recruiters dont have the ability to see outside the box and some senior managers are protecting their jobs that they fail to see good sustainable talent.