Wu’s Warriors – Waging War Against the Odds

Brutal competition, barbaric bloody battles for market share, an under-staffed and ill-prepared team, limited resources, challenged margins

They all add up to agony, gloom, and despair. But it doesn’t end there.

All Roads Lead to…

In this case, all roads lead to Fatality! Both in terms of attitude, and in terms of an organization. Sound familiar?  Many businesses and leaders find themselves precisely in this tenuous and seemingly indefensible position, especially right now.

And it seems inescapable.

The good news is, you can achieve victory where others will most assuredly fail.

Ask yourself:

  • What compelling reason do you have to continue the fight?
  • How do you determine your most precious resources and protect them?
  • Where can you find strategies to thrive, let alone survive, while operating within this toxic economy?

Wu, War, and You

Enter the ancient Chinese State of Wu, the Art of War, and you.

True, this ancient strategist expounded on military tactics.  However, his writings include many principles that anyone calling themselves a ‘Leader’ would be wise to learn and apply in their daily behaviors.

A Little Background

Wu’s neighbor and frequent opponent was the larger State of Ch’u.  To give up in the face of adversity would have meant submitting themselves to the brutality of Ch’u, and its oppressive methods.

So, why continue the fight?

  • Would you so easily forfeit autonomy and creative license, only to be assimilated?
  • Your diversity and flexibility are strengths, why not leverage them?
  • You can creatively develop new tactics to inspire loyalty – and victory – over competitors.

How did Wu develop the resources needed to succeed against their enemies?  Ch’u’s brutal tactics were widely experienced among the smaller surrounding states.  So, Wu tapped in a plethora of ready, willing, and able human resources against a common enemy. And he found these in nearby allies.

These allies provided invaluable local guidance, direction, and intelligence.   In contrast to Ch’u’s harsh methods, Wu’s leaders nurtured and cultivated their warriors and people.  This was no weak, marshmallow-y leadership. Their Leadership methods enabled and energized their troops, by providing and training in what was needed to be victorious on the battlefield.


Your most valuable resources

What are they?

  • Your most valuable resources are not your product, your materials, your financing, or your location.
  • Your most valuable resources are your people – trained, energized, motivated into productivity.
  • Hired and retained people whom your customers will trust, who are qualified, and who enhance your strategic stance and environment.

Guiding Principals, Changing Strategies

Principles are eternal, but strategies and tactics must be fluid according to each current situation.  Don’t apply the ‘one size fits all’ philosophy across your various strategies. For example, across your professional and personnel development, change competency, business planning, issue resolution, and customer relationship management strategies.

Leaders must quickly respond to obstacles as they arise, and stimulate the development of strategic diversity. Perhaps more importantly, train your future leaders to proceed according to the situation and environment.  When you provide tailored, ongoing training for your team, they will interpret it as an investment in their future. As a result, you will build loyalty.

In doing so, you will also grow Leaders, and cause your methods to survive and thrive in a sustainable manner.

It’s Up To You

“Thus it may be known that the leader of armies is the arbiter of the people’s fate, the one on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril.”

Continue the fight and protect your most valuable resources – Your People! Wu’s warriors are a classic, timeless example of this kind of true Leadership in action.

  • Is your team following you because they have to, or because they WANT to?
  • Are you the type of Leader that Wu’s Warriors would have followed in the face of adversity and against seemingly insurmountable odds?
  • Are you displaying Leadership qualities that truly inspire your team and their productivity?

Jim Janco is a Leadership Strategist, Professional Trainer, and Consultant at The Encompass Group
He can be reached at encompassgroup@comcast.net and (303) 618-0423

Edited by Mike Weppler

Image Sources: i78.photobucket.com, inspirationfalls.com, shine-x.com

Hey Leader, Are You a Coward?

In the course of normal human behaviors, people act in a variety of ways when they are around others. Some of these ways are pleasant, comfortable, and quite logical to me.

When I see people interact with others well, I like this. And when I observe them acting in rational ways in these types of social/business situations, I have normal, sane reactions. I don’t get any sort of indigestion or nausea in any way. Again, I like this.


When people behave in ways that short-circuits logic, sanity, prudence, decorum, integrity, politeness, or the general peace and order of society, I tend to blow a fuse.

One of these ways that just gets under my skin is when people allow fear to fuel their behaviors and steer them in the direction of cowardly avoidance when times get tough. When people simply want to hide and avoid reality or things unpleasant, I just don’t understand that type of destructive behavior! After all, how selfish can one be to behave without forethought of how their action will impact others? When I see people running from the truth and leaving their fear-filled caustic footprints every where they go, it makes me want to scream!

Avoidant Behavior Drives Me Crazy!

Yes, it drives me crazy! Granted, my peers will tell you that’s a pretty short trip to crazyland to start with, but I’m just saying… YUK.   Avoidant behavior is just plain cowardly.

The Email Time Bomb

Here is an example of cowardice that you might have experienced at work: It is when you receive a scolding full-page email message from a co-worker late in the day when that person could have mentioned their deep feelings earlier to you when you were with them face-to-face. You open the venoumous email from that person with no indication from their earlier behaviors that they had any issue or problem with you. This person simply avoided the issue when you were present and waited until they felt safe to blast you.

They waited to throw their bombs from behind their office wall when they weren’t looking at you in the eyes. “Coward!” I declare!

This cowardly person simply spilled their poison on the page, packaged it in an email message time bomb, and infected your inbox with their scathing concussion grenade to blast you when they were not around. But earlier when they had to chance to speak up and tell you how they felt, they said NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING !

Same with Voice Mail

Another example of avoidance behavior is when a person will not deal with you in person, but will provide another time of time-delayed surprise on you with a long winded voice mail message waiting for you behind a blinking light. Have you ever received a two-minute voicemail that started with “Jim, I’ve told you a thousand million times…..”

Again; “Coward!” I declare!


Take the Test

Are you a coward?  Do you do those things? Take this test:

You know you might be a coward if you

Reprimand others in lengthy emails
Leave scathing messages on people’s voicemail
Discipline employees through other people
Avoid appropriately disciplining your children
Never overtly disagree with the group when you probably should

If you resemble these comments, then you’re a coward!


Recalibrate Your Behaviors

Now… here’s how NOT to be a coward and to act with Courage.  Let’s take those Five Most Cowardly Acts (MCA’s), and turn them into Courageous Leadership actions.

1)      Courageous Leaders don’t reprimand in emails.  Email with purpose, but not full disclosure.

  • Courageous email example:  Jim, an important issue has come to my attention that we need to work out together.  I have some thoughts and need your input.  Thanks.”
  • Email messages don’t reveal demeanor or intent.  Don’t even try it.
  • Reprimand in person and in private.  Leave people with their dignity.
  • Added benefit:  You’ll never get snake bitten by an inappropriate email if you DON’T WRITE THEM.

2)      Courageous Leaders don’t leave scathing voice mails.   Leave a voice mail that requests an urgent call back.

  • Have you ever sent a scathing voicemail and almost immediately wished you could retrieve it before it was heard?  You can’t take voicemail words back, so don’t leave nasty messages.
  • Courageous voicemail example:  “Jim, this is Tom.  I just received some disturbing information.  I need to sort it out with you quickly.  Please call me asap.”
  • Looking someone in the eyes will help you to temper your temper when delivering a message.

3)      Courageous Leaders don’t discipline employees through others.  If you have something to say, say it directly to the person it involves.

  • Have you ever had your words misrepresented, embellished, or downplayed?
  • Courageous discipline involves looking someone in the eye, and letting them see and hear your exact intent.  No more, no less.  Keep it private.

4)       Courageous Parents don’t create unruly children who make everyone around them miserable.

  • Let’s face it; our first responsibility to our children is to be a Parent, not just a Procreator.
  • Real Parents provide fair, but tough discipline.
  • Would you let your employees do whatever they wanted, make others around them miserable; create havoc and dissension only followed with an occasional… “…oh sweetie, please don’t do that?” or “I don’t know what I’m going to do with you”.
  • Provide your children with the training that will cause them to bring praise to you as a person, respectful of others, and a pleasure to be around.

5)      Courageous Leaders are unafraid to appropriately and constructively disagree, WITH EVERYONE at times.

  • An example of Courageous Disagreement:  “I appreciate what everyone is saying, but here’s my problem with that…”
  • Courageous Disagreement is NOT an attack, nor insulting, nor disagreeable .  It is a method of redirecting the group to an alternate viewpoint
  • It doesn’t even matter if they listen to you, or if you’re wrong
  • Get a backbone and take a risk for the sake of your self-worth!

Have you been practicing all or some of those Five Most Cowardly Acts? Would you like to start the transformation from Coward to Courage? Are you willing to being investing in your self-worth and self-esteem right now? If so, you’ll be glad to you did!

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Email to a friend

Jim Janco
is owner and Strategist, Consultant, and Agent of Epiphany at the Encompass Group.
He can be reached at
encompassgroup@comcast.net and (303) 618-0423

Image Source: linuxjournal.com