In order to be a good leader, you must be able to conceptualize and implement strategy. Any action that we take in life, weather its buying a house, eating dinner or crossing the street; involves strategic thinking and action.

It is the craziest of notions to think that strategy does not apply to everything that you do in life. You might think that it doesn’t apply to you if you are a happy go lucky wanderer but in all things, strategy has played a role in what you do and how successful you are at it. The strategy of having no strategy is a strategy.

As a leader of people then, it is MOST essential that you begin to understand and use Strategy in all things that you do.  Strategy is deeply rooted in the way of nature and nature only allows  the fittest to survive. To ignore strategy is to invite defeat.

As human beings, our greatest weapon, our greatest survival tool, is our brain. Our ability to plan ahead, to organize and to follow through on long term goals, has made us one of the most successful creatures on the planet. To ignore this is foolish and quite costly, even deadly.

Leaders therefore must become masters of strategy. If they ignore this, then they will not lead and if any are foolish enough to follow leaders without strategy, they will fail.

The first fundamental of a great strategist, and therefore a great leader; is the ability to calculate. Before we can take any action, we must calculate probabilities and possibilities so that we can be as certain as possible that what we are about to do will be successful.

Logic is our great friend in this, but if studied to any extent, logic will eventually dictate that calculation is flawed and moreover, you cannot calculate for all probabilities. Why did Big blue (supercomputer) beat the greatest chess player of all time (Kasparov)? Because they were playing in a closed system. In Chess there are about  (10)120 possible moves. This is a gigantic number but not beyond a supercomputer, Kasparov was beaten because Big Blue was able to calculate moves to a far greater number than he could but Big Blue could not cross the street by itself while Kasparov could do it, I would imagine, while chewing gum and listening to his ipod.

The point is that we do not live in a closed system and our moves involve infinitely complex boards of action that have so many random probabilities, that figuring out what might happen next is really impossible. But what we can do is to make very educated guesses as to what might happen next and therefore position ourselves and our actions so as to gain the greatest amount of profit.

Leaders that calculate will win. Leaders that do not calculate will fail. Leaders that calculate better and more thoroughly will win over those that do not.

You must learn to calculate, and you must learn to calculate better than your opposition. In order to do this, there are some general principals to consider. These are broad schema that will allow you to come to general conclusions. This is just a starting point, from these general thoughts, create a deeper understanding of your enemies, your allies, your obstacles and your resources.

•    Learn to understand the psychology of those around you. Understanding a person’s psyche is the surest way to know what their next move will be. The psychology of people and things involves; the motivation, the general cohesion of the personality or group, the fears, the desires, their repressed emotions.
Calculating psychological makeup is not just for individuals. Groups of any kind can also be analyzed psychologically. Even places or events can be seen to have a psychological makeup. Learn to understand psychology and apply these fundamentals to understanding those that you must deal and compete with.

•    Learn to understand your environment. “Wherever you go, there you are,” some wise jester once wrote and no truer words have ever been spoken. Understand the lay of the land; find out about the land that you find yourself in now and the land that you will find yourself in the future, especially if it will be a place where you will encounter some kind of obstacle, test, or conflict.  This may involve the weather, where the lights will be in the office, or even what it will smell like.

•    Learn to calculate the situation. Is it going to be easy going or is it all up hill? Will you need to make concessions or will you have a flexible position?  Will you be surrounded by friendly and easy competition or are you going to find yourself surrounded by those that would cut out your heart and hand it to you?

•    Calculate the competency of the leaders that you will face. Is your opposition calculating? How good are they at it? Do they inspire group cohesion? Are they fair and logical or are they crazy? Is this a facade?

•    Learn to calculate the experience and organizational skill of those that you will face. Have they been at it long? Do they have a system? How old is the system? Can you break it?
Even inanimate obstacles can be measured like this.

If you would lead others and win, then you must begin to use the things and ideas mentioned above.
We are now in the midst of the information generation, do not overlook this. A computer is a wonderful ally and the World Wide Web can supply you with infinite information that you can use to your benefit. Wikipedia for example is an amazing source, just remember that it can be flawed. Never trust anything 100%. Doubt has kept many a man alive in a wet jungle( or the stock market ).

Keep your eyes open. Be observant. Write notes. Always study, always keep learning because you must calculate to win.

resource:—The Art of War  by Sun Tzu