The Art of Management by Zhuge Liang (Part Three)

Interested in Becoming a Member?

An SIM Membership like no other, provides you with an abundance of tools, resources and opportunities to help you achieve your professional and personal success at every step of the way! Be part of our learning community of more than 34,000 corporate and individual members.

For more information about membership, please click here »

Member Login

If u are a subscriber, please use ur subscriber login.
If you are a SIM Member, please use your SIM Membership login.

Forgot your password?

Member Login

Forgot your password?
login  Cancel

Sign Up

If you wish to sign up for a SIM Membership, please click here


If you wish to subscribe to Today's Manager, please click here

If you wish to subscribe to Singapore Management Review, please click here

Website maintenance notice: Website will not be accessible from 27 June (11 pm) to 28 June (9 am) due to scheduled maintenance. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

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

 The Art of Management by Zhuge Liang (Part Three)

Sheh Seow Wah | General
December 15, 2021
Drawing 16 lessons from The Art of Management by Zhuge Liang, a great strategist during the Three Kingdoms of China. 


Zhuge Liang (諸葛亮) was known to be clever in the use of creative solutions (strategies) in gaining an advantage over his enemy. The ability to bring new ideas, methods, or solutions into use requires a shift of one’s paradigm, and the ability to think laterally and question the current way of doing things.

Strategy Eight: Evaluating Performance

If a ruler wants his court to be free of corruption and the country to be strong and prosperous, it is important to regularly evaluate the performance of his officials and reward them adequately. After evaluating the performance of the officials, a wise ruler would reward good officials appropriately and dismiss those who under-performed.

A comprehensive performance appraisal system should be developed based on meritocracy and not personal feelings and preferences. If the criteria for evaluation are based on personal feelings and preferences, it will lead to a corrupt administration and the organisation, as a whole, will suffer.

Strategy Nine: Military Administration

In order for a country to enjoy long-term stability and prosperity, it is important for a ruler to maintain a strong and powerful army to defend the country from external threats and internal strife. 


An organisation needs managers to administrate and ensure that all management and operating systems are well-maintained and adhered to. Managers tend to be more logical and systematic than leaders and thus, they are able to perform the job of maintaining the organisation’s standard operating processes (SOP), rules, and procedures.


Strategy 10: Rewards and Punishments

A wise ruler should install a comprehensive and efficient performance management system that rewards good and punishes evil. A good reward system should be fair and equitable while punishments should be meted out with no discrimination. Showing favour to a few people who have broken laws will make people lose respect for the laws.                      

In any organisation, rewards and punishments have to be clear and both have to be enforced. While it is important to reward the top 10 per cent of top performers, it is also important to punish the lowest 10 per cent of non-performers.



Strategy 11: Controlling Emotion

A wise ruler should be able to control his joy and anger. He should not be overly lenient when happy, to the extent of releasing a convicted person. At the same time, he should not punish someone out of a fit of anger. A wise ruler should act on facts and not emotions. 

In modern terms, a wise leader should possess good emotional quotient (EQ). A person who possesses high intellectual capacity but very low emotional intelligence should not take up a leadership position but might instead be a specialist.


In the last part of this article, I will discuss the last five lessons by Zhuge Liang.

Dr Sheh re​ceived 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.


Copyright © 2021 Singapore Institute of Management

Browse Articles

By Topic
By Industry
By Geography