This is a guest post by Joe Scherrer. Joe is a decorated Air Force veteran, an author, a speaker, and a coach. His ebook includes lessons from 82 of history’s greatest leaders. You can follow him on Twitter.
History is replete with stories of great generals—heroes who saved their men, their cities and their countries. It is equally populated with those who failed in their task, sometimes spectacularly.
However, what few realize is that great generals and failed generals are sometimes one and the same person.
Alexander the Great is a case in point. He conquered most of the known world before most people today are out of college and into their first job. In an amazing eleven-year journey of conquest—unparalleled in the history of the world—he rode more than 10,000 miles, fought 70 battles without losing a single one and conquered from Egypt to India.
But as great as he was, he also had a complex and volatile personality that led to some tragic mistakes.
Read on to discover a few lessons from Alexander’s remarkable leadership career that will help you be a better leader today.
Lesson #1: Seek Out the Best Mentors…Then Learn from Them
Alexander had the benefit of being educated in political, military, and cultural matters by excellent tutors including none other than Aristotle.
He also accompanied his father on several military campaigns and distinguished himself in battle at a young age.
He no doubt drew upon that upbringing when he assumed the throne at only 20 years old after Philip was assassinated.
Alexander wasted no time in using his position as general of all Greece to take the strong army his father had left him and expand Greek hegemony into Persia.
What You Can Learn: Prepare yourself by being open to what others more senior can teach you. They’ve been where you are, and they are where you want to be. Adopting an attitude of continual learning from those you respect will make you a better leader.
Lesson #2: Want to Increase Your Decision-Making Flexibility? What-If Everything
Alexander’s conquests brought him into contact with a wide variety of armies and cultures. To deal with the ever-changing military, political, cultural, and economic landscape, he planned meticulously, analyzed every piece of information and formulated as many alternatives as possible.
From a military standpoint, such efforts reduced his risk, increased his flexibility, and enabled him to operate with speed and decisiveness with his highly trained and exceptionally loyal army.
What you can learn: A flexible and adaptable strategy is a crucial element of your success as a leader. Systematic planning, a comprehensive view, and incorporating a range of options allows you to change your strategy depending on the situation and environment you face. In so doing, you can put together a strategy that will serve you and your organization well as you set about conquering your small part of the world.