To Sun Tzu, the Chinese grand strategist of Art of War fame, the ability to subjugate the enemy without battle was the pinnacle of generalship. Think about that for a moment — winning without a fight. Is that even possible?
If you’re a Type A person who has recently been thrust into a leadership position, you will certainly already possess many leadership qualities. You’ll be confident, skilled, decisive, and squarely in charge. As a new leader, you’ll want to show that you have what it takes to not only meet but also exceed your goals.
You may fall into the trap of barking orders, criticizing team members for minor shortcomings, and micromanaging. As you attempt to motivate your team and lead them to success, you may find yourself being the kind of boss your team complains about over after-work drinks. You may, in other words, be creating an entirely avoidable battle by being over-reactive.
Does that sound familiar to you? If so, it’s time to take a step back. You may be in charge now, but you’ll have been led before — you’ll have been inspired to be your best self by excellent mentors and bosses, and you’ll also have encountered awful leaders who made you want to give up or take their job. You will know, from first-hand experience, that a gentler approach to leadership can make people want to do everything in their power to excel.
Instead of, or at least in addition to, criticizing, ask for your team’s input and feedback. Empathize with the difficulties your team are facing, and do your best to solve them. Delegate where possible, so that your team members feel as motivated and responsible as you are. In leading by example, in inviting others to shine, you make those you lead want to follow. In doing so, you’ll achieve the ultimate objective of winning without a fight.