Sun Tzu, writing in the 5th century BC in The Art of War said: “What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men is foreknowledge.”

This is a very real attribute of a great leader – the ability to predict. No matter the level of managerial and people skills the business leader possesses, they will all be jeopardized if he or she cannot anticipate the effects of the plans they put in place, and the actions they take. In some instances, it may be that past experience and intuition takes precedence over consultation with the “troops”, who may not understand the full ramifications of what is about to take place.

This is where genuine leadership shines. When all around are scratching their heads and reluctant to make a decision, true leadership must come into play. In 2011 the McQuaig Institute conducted a study of the behavioral temperaments of 1038 senior leaders. Among the many common behavioral traits these leaders shared was the willingness to take calculated risk and to make decisions quickly. Some modern leaders may utterly fail in this area due to lack of experience, intuition and an over-reliance on the input of their team.

As Sun Tzu says: “Some leaders are generous but cannot use their men. They love their men but cannot command them… These leaders create spoiled children. Their soldiers are useless.”

Leadership may have become a different beast over the years, but it is still, at its heart, about people. By following some basic leadership principles you will be respected for your fairness, your skills and your ability to lead others in a way that helps them to achieve more than they ever expected they could do. Leading people can be one of the most rewarding things you've ever done if you do it right.

While you may not involve all of your people in the decisions you make as a leader it is wise to remember the platinum rule, “Do onto others as they would like done onto them”. Be aware of their behavioral drives and motivations and you will positively impact employee engagement. Continue to leverage your own behavioral strengths and manage your areas of development as part of your own leadership development plan. In the words of noted Industrial Organizational Psychologist Jack McQuaig, “highly successful people are not necessarily blessed with higher intellect or more charisma than others, but they do know to make the best use of their talents and to avoid the pitfalls that could limit their success”.


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