Looking at Napoleon's style of leadership can help your own style.

I have heard a lot on success and its requirements in recent times.

The best guess for this would be, “Interest” and “Timing”. We see what we set our eyes on. We experience what we create time for.

In the midst of the “noise”, two things always stand out.

Leadership and People.

Once upon a time, the most recurring thing she said in her response to my many questions was, “Everything rises and falls on leadership”, one of the many quotes made popular by John C. Maxwell. Deep inside me, I concluded that she had read all of the man’s books. I questioned the relevance of this quote. I did not believe in his books then.

“You need people to achieve.” She said on another occasion.

“You mean the same people who made the last project so difficult?” I replied.

“Yes, the same people. You cannot achieve anything great without people”.

Months later I read through an excerpt of the biography of Napoleon Bonaparte and I joined the dots.

Napoleon is regarded as one of the greatest military tacticians, in the same league as Alexander the Great, Hannibal Barca, and Genghis Khan. Left for Waterloo, he was on the brink of conquering Europe.

If you think it is easy to lead people to their deaths, think again.

John C. Maxwell identified that, “the lowest level of leadership is positional leadership”. Sadly, many people who see themselves as leaders, or who we call leaders are just in positions. Positional leadership cannot really lead people during the crunch time.

Napoleon could only achieve the historical conquests and victories with the same two things that stand out; leadership and people.

In the 21st Century, Napoleon is that leader,

…who will be a source of inspiration.

He managed to awe the generals with his intensity, the sheer power of his personality, and the strength of his convictions. The power of his personality was overwhelming. Conviction, eloquence, self-confidence and passion combined to give Napoleon the ability to inspire and lead men.

…who will make the tough decisions.

His greatest asset was not his ability to make a quick decision, but to make the right decision quick, while lesser men dandled, Napoleon acted, bending destiny to his will.

…who will do his homework.

A notorious work-horse, Napoleon dedicated his time to work and planning, sleeping few hours at night.

He often dictated to three secretaries at a time without losing his thoughts. Napoleon kept going strong as one tired secretary was replaced by the other.

…who will work to earn the respect of the people.

His knowledge of human nature enabled Napoleon to tap into the desire of the troops and earn their respect.

…who will mingle with the people.

He would walk through the bivouacs, chatting with soldiers and inquiring about their welfare. Much to his men’s pleasure, he would taste their soup and sometimes eat with them. His particular gesture of goodwill would tweak a man’s cheek in approval. And he was not above telling raunchy jokes that made even the staunchest of veterans blush.

…who will know people on a personal level.

Before inspecting a unit, he would consult the records of its officers and sergeants. This allowed him to stop in front of a soldier and say something like ‘Sergeant so-and-so, do you remember how hard we fought at Marengo? Needless to say his men were honoured to be remembered and singled out by the Emperor.

Leadership is about inspiration, about decisions, about doing your homework; it is also about the people. Respecting the people, knowing the people, treating the people as you would treat yourself.

The people you help to solve their problems, the people you advise, and the people you work with. The people you are entrusted with to lead at work, at home, and elsewhere.

To achieve success, to fulfill your purpose, you will have to lead people to achieve success and fulfill their purpose.

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