The Demands of Leadership – with King David, Plato and Sun Tzu

Sustained capacity to respond to an ever changing world is required of leaders. Great exploits in the past is not enough. King David had a reputation for great exploits, as a shepherd boy he had killed a lion to rescue a sheep; he reached into his shepherds bag and with a sling and stone brought down the giant Goliath; he fought many wars victoriously. However while he was on one of his expeditions, the enemy attacked his camp, and kidnapped the wives and children of King David and his soldiers.

David and Goliath – Google

At this point, the people felt they did not need a leader like that anymore. The people considered stoning King David, despite past exploits! This is the point when the people feel leaders are no longer leaders. It is the point that Thrasymachus was trying to make in this debate with Socrates as recorded by Plato:

“You argue like an informer, Socrates. Do you mean, for example, that he who is mistaken about the sick is a physician in that he is mistaken? or that he who errs in arithmetic or grammar is an arithmetician or grammarian at the time when he is making the mistake, in respect of the mistake? True, we say that the physician or arithmetician or grammarian has made a mistake, but this is only a way of speaking; for the fact is that neither the grammarian nor any other person of skill ever makes a mistake in so far as he is what his name implies; they none of them err unless their skill fails them, and then they cease to be skilled artists. No artist or sage or ruler errs at the time when he is what his name implies; though he is commonly said to err”

Excerpt From

The Republic


When leaders find themselves at this point, they should consider doing what King David did:

“Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was [a]grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”

1 Samuel 30:6

Excerpt from

The Holy Bible

New King James Version

The period of “strengthening” is one of reflection and further calculations. Consultation and strategy! It is during this period the leader, rather than giving up, or reminding the people of previous achievements, begins to think of how best to advance, to move things forward against all odds, it is in times like this that the leader will begin to consider some strategies of Sun Tzu as follows:

“19. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

20. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.

21. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.

22. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

23. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest.

If his forces are united, separate them.

24. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

25. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.

26. Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought.”

Excerpt From

The Art of War

Sun Tzu

To whom much is given, much is expected. Leadership is demanding, but a true leader must always rise to the occasion, only then is he/she a leader.

Dr Ande Elisha

The Amateur Philosopher