“(7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?” Sun Tzu (The Art of War)
This concluding piece of our discourses of Sun Tzu’s seven (7) Considerations for success, addresses a very important and interesting topic: reward and punishment systems. Even before I read The Art War, I had always held the view that a clear reward and punishment system is essential for success. Check any society where law and order and consequently progress is the order of the day, and you will find that rewards and punishments are meted out consistently regardless of who benefits or whose ox is gored; the reverse is the case in chaotic, backward and retrogressive societies.
“There is an evil I have seen under the sun,
As an error proceeding from the ruler:
Folly is set in great dignity,
While the rich sit in a lowly place.
I have seen servants on horses,
While princes walk on the ground like servants.” Ecclesiastes 10:5-7
The passage above bemoans leaders who dish out rewards based on reasons other than merit. This is an abnormality, and naturally leads to chaos, there’s no remedy but to do the right thing! Meritocracy!!! Please see article on meritocracy in this link: https://andeelishaphilosophy.com/meritocracy-leadership-part-3-with-socrates-genghis-khan-and-frankopan/
Sometimes, leaders err, not deliberately but because they are humans and no one is perfect. Humans, even the most ruthless, have an inherent need to trust and be trusted; thus leaders may give out rewards prematurely or altogether wrongly. The guide below from Nicolo Machiavelli in The Prince may be useful to leaders, who do not wish to deliberately create anomalies:
“But to enable a prince to form an opinion of his servant there is one test which never fails; when you see the servant thinking more of his own interests than of yours, and seeking inwardly his own profit in everything, such a man will never make a good servant, nor will you ever be able to trust him; because he who has the state of another in his hands ought never to think of himself, but always of his prince, and never pay any attention to matters in which the prince is not concerned.
On the other hand, to keep his servant honest the prince ought to study him, honouring him, enriching him, doing him kindnesses, sharing with him the honours and cares; and at the same time let him see that he cannot stand alone, so that many honours may not make him desire more, many riches make him wish for more, and that many cares may make him dread chances. When, therefore, servants, and princes towards servants, are thus disposed, they can trust each other, but when it is otherwise, the end will always be disastrous for either one or the other.”
The concluding excerpt below is a recipe for success:
“He arranged his most devoted followers around him both as personal bodyguard and an iron inner circle made up of warriors upon whom he could rely unquestioningly. This was a MERITOCRATIC SYSTEM where ability and loyalty were more important than tribal background or shared kinship with the leader.”
Excerpt from: Peter Frankopan. The Silk Roads. A New History of the World. https://andeelishaphilosophy.com/meritocracy-leadership-part-3-with-socrates-genghis-khan-and-frankopan/
The Amateur Philosopher