I don’t like to generalize, but I have to admit author Becky Sheetz-Runkle’s recent article about women and war makes some good points. She comments that women don’t really identify with war and that many of us believe war to be contrary to our nature. However, Becky continues, smart women business leaders would be wise to apply some of the strategic principles of war mapped out in the ancient Chinese military bible by Sun Tzu, The Art of War. I agree, and I think that to be competitive, businesswomen need to hone their business skills, stay alert and use their intuition to get ahead.
I’d also suggest that becoming a master strategist is something all business leaders should aspire to. Becky’s tips for staying at the top of your game using The Art of War for inspiration are noteworthy, and I’d like to share my thoughts on her suggestions with you here:
Don’t always play by the rules
As little girls, Becky writes, we were conditioned to believe that playing by the rules would be rewarded. Early in most little girls’ lives it is. But I don’t think it’s as much about casting aside rules as it is about seizing opportunities. As women we tend to “hang back” and let things happen “to” us rather than taking action to make things happen! The Art of War, Becky notes, tells us to not only jump on opportunities but to do it with fire and determination, “An army superior in strength takes action like the bursting of pent up waters into a chasm of a thousand fathoms deep.”
Use mistakes to propel you forward
Becky rightfully suggests that, in general, women’s reactions to mistakes differ from those of men. She notes that men view failure as a chance to get it right the next time, or as a challenge to do it bigger and better, while women tend to seek consolation. I think she makes a good case, and I believe women business leaders could take a few pointers from our male counterparts the next time we face a mistake. Rather than feel dejected, decide to get up, wipe yourself off, and move on! Turn your mistake into a learning experience and make a concerted effort to put it behind you and start fresh.
Take calculated risks
Risk-taking just to be risky isn’t going to get you where you want to go every time. But taking risks that offer abundant rewards with minimal danger is simply good strategy. Becky points out that, in general, women tend to take fewer risks. And, I think she’s right to a point. Having the entrepreneurial spirit makes me a bit more of a risk-taker, but I think all women business leaders have that in common, and we can use it to our advantage. Becky notes that The Art of War suggests that to win, you must “Take advantage of the enemy’s unpreparedness, make your way by unexpected routes.”
The lesson here, I think, is that as women we have the ability to change our circumstances by becoming masters of strategic thinking. Each of us has the innate ability to become a great leader—we just need to unleash our inner warrior!