The Art of Management by Zhuge Liang (Part Two)

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

 The Art of Management by Zhuge Liang (Part Two)

Sheh Seow Wah | General
December 8, 2021
Drawing 16 lessons from The Art of Management by Zhuge Liang, a great strategist during the Three Kingdoms of China. 


In the Three Kingdoms of China, Liu Bei liked to associate himself with heroes and was noted for his loyalty to friends and his respect for talented people. Due to Liu Bei sincerity and persuasion, Zhuge Liang gave up his seclusion and spent the rest of his life helping the Shu Kingdom.


Strategy Four: Acceptance of Advice

A wise ruler is open and receptive to the advice of his subjects. Nobody is always right at all times and in all situations, including the King. If a ruler is open, officials will dare to be frank and provide constructive criticism.

Good advice might be piercing to the ears just as good medicine often tastes bitter, but more importantly, it benefits the listener.

A wise leader listens to the advice of others, especially his or her top management personnel. He or she is not stubborn. When unable to solve a problem, he or she always seeks the advice of experts.


Strategy Five: Be Perceptive

A ruler has to exercise extreme care and vigilance in judging who and what are right or wrong. Being perceptive means being able to distinguish white from black.

To be perceptive, a ruler must have the ability to distinguish and value those who serve him wholeheartedly from those who harbor ill-intentions.

If an organisation is unable to distinguish between good and bad employees and starts to promote the wrong people to higher positions, it suffers in the long-term. A wise leader has a clear mind and will know how to distinguish between good and bad, and right from wrong.


Strategy Six: Managing People

In managing people, a wise ruler always make his intentions clear from the beginning and continuously communicates and educates people on the rationale and benefits of his plan.


In an organisation, a wise leader spends effort and time to communicate his or her vision and give deep meaning to his or her purpose. Once a person finds meaning in whatever he or she is doing, they will be able to derive happiness from the job. If employees can derive satisfaction from the work itself, then it is much easier to motivate them.


Strategy Seven: Selection of People

A wise ruler is capable of judging and attracting the right people to serve him by putting the right person on the right job. A country without capable people would not be able to enjoy long-term prosperity.

In contemporary times, this is called talent management. Without talents, an organisation will find it difficult to experience growth and progress. Thus, a wise organisation leader knows how to judge, attract, treasure, trust, reward, motivate, and retain talented people to work for the organisation.



In part three, another four lessons on how Zhuge Liang will be discussed.


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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