The Art of Management by Zhuge Liang (Part Four)

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Home > Articles > The Art of Management by Zhuge Liang (Part Four)

 The Art of Management by Zhuge Liang (Part Four)

Sheh Seow Wah | General
December 22, 2021
Drawing 16 lessons from The Art of Management by Zhuge Liang, a great strategist during the Three Kingdoms of China.


Liu Bei’s luck took a favourable turn when Zhuge Liang joined him. Until today, Zhuge Liang (諸葛亮) is esteemed highly in the Chinese community.


Strategy 12: Controlling Chaos

Before controlling others, a wise ruler knows how to control himself. A chaotic situation has to be handled with care. In reforming a country, rulers must focus on incremental improvements. This will help to build confidence and morale among the people.


In the last 20 to 30 years of rapid globalisation, the world economy has been getting more and more unstable such as the recent pandemic. Strong leaders should possess a high Adversity Quotient (AQ)—the ability to be steady, stable, and always remain calm during turbulent times. Even if a leader feels panicky, he or she should not reveal it.


Strategy 13: Education and Orders

A ruler who is lax with himself but strict with his subjects is practising bad policy. Conversely, a ruler who is strict with himself before issuing orders for his subjects to follow is practising good policy.

In contemporary organisations, discipline is still very important. Without discipline and order, the organisation will be difficult to manage. Certain levels of formality (rules, policies, and procedures) are important for the smooth operation of the organisation.


Strategy 14: Handling Difficulties

A wise ruler should act swiftly and be decisive when encountered with a problem. Otherwise, the country will suffer. In ensuring order and stability, a state must establish laws and regulations.

In meting out punishment, an organisation leader must be impartial and objective. Nobody must be placed above the rules and regulations or employees will not respect top management personnel.


Strategy 15: Looking Ahead

A ruler who is not far-sighted enough or does not make long-term plans is bound to have worries. The plan has to be comprehensive enough to anticipate all internal and external variables, yet specific enough to produce a significant impact.

An organisation needs to be led by someone who has a dream, a vision, and a strong sense of direction. A leader without a strong sense of direction will be easily swayed by others and will ultimately lead the people in the wrong direction.


Strategy 16: Observation

It is important to observe, understand, and compare the characteristics of different people or environments in order to get the best out of them.

An organisation’s human resources (HR) are made up of different types of people. To be able to use people for the right purpose is the best way to treasure talents and to bring out the best of talented people.



Zhuge Liang was recognised as the most accomplished strategist of his era, which is comparable to Sunzi. He died at the age of 53.


Dr Sheh received his doctoral degree in Transformational Leadership. Dr. Sheh serves a lecturer with several universities (both local and foreign). He also serves as an Organisational Behaviour Consultant and Change Management consultant.

His book The Art of Leadership: Wisdom from the Ancient Chinese is available on Kindle and Amazon.



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