Alexander the Great Leadership Case Study is a part of Leadership Stories, a series of biographies of great leaders in history that have impacted the world in a huge way.
Alexander was one of history’s greatest conquerors. Born as an heir to the Macedonian King, his great ambition led him to destroy the greatest army in his time, the Persian Empire.
At its height, Alexander’s empire stretched all the way from modern day Italy to the Himalaya.
Alexander was born in Pella into the Kingdom of Macedonia. He was the son of Philip II, the then King of Macedon.
Alexander was raised as a noble Macedonian youth, trained in the learning to read, play the lyre, ride, fight, and hunt.
As he got older, his father found the famous Aristotle to be the tutor for his son Alexander. Aristotle educated Alexander and his companions in various disciplines such as medicine, philosophy, morals, religion, logic, and art. Many of his study companions would later become his generals in his army.
At the age of 20, a successful assassination attempt was made on the life of King Philip, and Alexander was made king at that young age.After quelling small uprisings and rebellions with the death of the king, Alexander began his campaign against the Persian empire.
Crossing into Asia with over 100,000 men, he began his campaign against Persia which would last over 7 years.
Alexander would display tactical brilliance in the fighting of the Persia army, remaining undefeated despite having smaller numbers each time.
His successes would take him all to the very edge of India, at the edge of the Ganges River. Because his armies feared the might of the Indian empires, they mutinied and this marked the end of his campaign to the East.
He had intended to march further into India with the rest of the Macedonians, but he was persuaded out of it because it was said to him that his soldiers would like to return to their families.
Alexander would die shortly after his return to Babylon. Because he did not name a successor to this throne and his death was all too sudden, his empire fell into chaos as generals fought to take control of his empire.
1. Immense Self Belief
From a very young age, his parents instilled in Alexander a belief that it was his destiny to conquer the Persian Empire. This belief would carry Alexander all the way from his youth to his death bed. At some points in time, Alexander had believed that he was the Son of Zeus and was to be worshiped! This was his depth of self belief.
Although, such egoism will do a leader no good, but what I want to focus here is on self-belief. As a leader, you need to have a considerable amount of self-belief to inspire the same level of faith in your followers. It does not matter that you may not be right all the time, but expressing that belief in yourself will help your followers believe in you too.
So the question really comes back to you? Do you truly believe in your own ability to succeed? If you can't give an outright yes, think about what is hindering you from that belief.
2. Cunning use of resources
Alexander didn’t become one of history’s greatest commanders by just believing in himself. He was a brilliant and cunning tactician in battle as well. He knew that the disorganized Persian army would not be able to withstand his phalanxes; so he used them to their best effect each time, breaking through enemy ranks and forcing the retreat.
A good leader understands the strengths and weaknesses of his followers and he puts them in positions where they are more likely to succeed.
As a leader, you should always be clear about how to best use your team. You are like a chess player. You have a variety of resources at your disposal: people of different skills and abilities. The key is always to learn how to deploy each person to leverage their strengths.
3. Succession Planning
Although Alexander conquered much of the known world during his time, his empire never survived him. What was his strength when he was alive became a weakness after his death.
Because no one had the charisma or the leadership to contain such a huge empire, the whole empire soon broke into civil war after he passed away. What he built in one generation was immediately destroyed in the next.
A good leader makes himself indispensable to the team, but a great leader makes himself fully dispensable! He is able to disappear from the team and have it still run at full capacity. When you have achieved that, it means you have successfully built an organization.
So find a way to position your team such that you become an unnecessary part of that team. When you can fully let your hands go, you have done your part as a leader.
A tomb now suffices him for whom the whole world was not sufficient.
I had rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and dominion.
Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.
I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.
There is nothing impossible to him who will try.
Heaven cannot brook two suns, nor earth two masters.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.
How great are the dangers I face to win a good name in Athens.
I am dying with the help of too many physicians.
A feature on the true story of Alexander the Great:
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» Alexander The Great
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