Alexander the Great was one of the history’s most celebrated conquerors. Born as heir to the Macedonian King, his great ambition led him to take on the high Persian Empire. At its height, Alexander’s empire stretched all the way from modern-day Italy to the Himalayas.
Alexander The Great Leadership: A Short Biography
Alexander was born in 356 BC in Pella, a city in the Kingdom of Macedonia. He was the son of Philip II, King of Macedon. Alexander was raised as a noble Macedonian youth. He learned to read, play the lyre, ride, fight, and hunt.
As he got older, his father had the famous Aristotle tutor his son. Aristotle educated Alexander and his companions in various disciplines such as medicine, philosophy, morality, religion, logic, and art. Many of his study companions would later become generals in his army.
When King Philip was assassinated, Alexander ascended to the throne at the young age of 20. After quelling small uprisings and rebellions after his father’s death, Alexander began his campaign against the Persian Empire.
Crossing into Asia with over 100,000 men, he began his war against Persia which lasted more than seven years. Alexander displayed tactical brilliance in the fight against the Persian army, remaining undefeated despite having fewer soldiers.
His successes took him to the very edge of India, to the banks of the Ganges River. His armies feared the might of the Indian empires and mutinied, which marked the end of his campaign to the East. He had intended to march further into India, but he was persuaded against it because his soldiers wanted to return to their families.
Alexander died unexpectedly after his return to Babylon. Because his death was sudden and he did not name a successor to his throne, his empire fell into chaos as generals fought to take control.
Today, Alexander the Great is still considered one of the most successful military leaders in history. His conquests shaped not just eastern and western culture but also the history of the world.
Alexander The Great: Leadership Lessons
- Believe in yourself
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 stay with Alexander until his deathbed. At a few points in his life, Alexander even believed that he was the Son of Zeus and was to be worshiped. This demonstrates the depth of his self-belief.
Although it may seem to many that such extreme egoism could be harmful, it is essential for your self-worth and self-confidence to believe in yourself wholeheartedly. There has never been a leader in the history of the world who did not have a considerable amount of self-belief and confidence. This is how great leaders inspire the same level of self-confidence and self-worth in their teams, and it is how you can too.
Do you genuinely believe in your ability to succeed? If you can’t give an outright ‘yes,’ take a closer look at what beliefs are holding you back.
- Leverage your team’s strengths
Alexander was a brilliant and cunning tactician in battle. He knew that the disorganized Persian army would not be able to withstand his phalanxes (a body of troops in tight military formation). So he used them to their best effect each time, breaking through enemy ranks and forcing the Persians to retreat.
A good leader understands the strengths and weaknesses of his team, and he puts them in positions where they are more likely to succeed.
You might liken it to being a chess player. You have a variety of resources at your disposal: people of differing skills and abilities. The key is always to learn how to position each person in a role that leverages their strengths.
- Make yourself an unnecessary part of the team
Although Alexander conquered much of the known world during his time, his empire never survived him. His strength when he was alive became a weakness after his death.
After Alexander had passed away, no one had the charisma or leadership to rule such a vast empire. Civil war soon broke out, and what Alexander built in one generation was destroyed in the next.
A good leader makes himself indispensable to the team, but a great leader makes himself thoroughly dispensable! He can step out of the team and still have them perform at full capacity.
So find a way to position your team such that you become an unnecessary part of it. When your team is still able to perform at a high level even when you remove yourself from the equation, you have done your role as a leader.
Alexander The Great: Ambition
Alexander was taken with the character Achilles in Homer’s epic tale, the Illiad in his growing up years. He decided to model himself after Achilles.
Alexander’s teacher was the well-known philosopher Aristotle, and he annotated the full version of The Illiad for Alexander, so he could better emulate Achilles. He cherished this gift from his mentor and would even sleep with it under his pillow.
He also received encouragement from his mother, Olympias. Rumors were that she consulted with the gods regarding her son and told him he was a direct descendant of Achilles and Hercules. This fueled the fire inside of Alexander.
After taming a wild horse at just 14-years old his father, Phillip II of Macedonia, was seeking to purchase, he proudly said, “My son, look thee out a kingdom equal and worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee.”
Weaknesses of Alexander The Great
- His temper was well-known. He could erupt like a volcano and it was best not to get to close so you wouldn’t get any fallout.
- While he was not considered an alcoholic by today’s standards, he did turn to spirits heavily on occasion.
- He was too eccentric for many, including those close to him. Because of this, just before his death, he lost the loyalty of many people.
Quotes from Alexander the Great
“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.”
“There is nothing impossible to him who will try.”
“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 on the fate of all.”
“I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.”
“Heaven cannot brook two suns, nor earth two masters.”
“How great are the dangers I face to win a good name in Athens.”
“A tomb now suffices him for whom the whole world was not sufficient.”
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Random Facts of Alexander The Great
How did Alexander The Great die?
The exact causes are not known as it was not a custom in his day in age to list the cause of death as it is today. The most common belief is he died of typhoid fever (which, along with malaria, was a common form of death during that period in ancient Babylon). This was the theory proposed by the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1998. Other theories included alcoholic liver disease, fever, and even strychnine poisoning.