Alexander the Great and Visionary Leadership by ves88494


									     Alexander the Great and Visionary Leadership
                                                                                 From the Team Trek Series: Leadership Styles - July 2005

In the Spring of 334 B.C. Alexander the Great embarked from            feeling part of the process gives people a sense of purpose and
Northern Greece on a twelve year journey during which he traveled      working toward shared goals.
22,000 miles and conquered modern day Turkey, Syria, Lebanon,
Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India to the Indus       Seeing the possibilities of others is an important characteristic of the
River. To dream and do greatly is not given to many persons and it     visionary leader style because that helps people see how their work
is this combination that distinguishes him as one of the greatest      fits into the entire process. To this end the visionary leader helps
leaders in the history of the world. During the twelve year            others be better and find their place by coaching, challenging, and
campaign, before his death in current day Iran, he defeated armies     encouraging them. This style works well when working with new
four and five times his size, leading his army of Macedonians across   people, building a brand in working with clients and customers, and
deserts and over 15,000 foot peaks in freezing weather, facing         when attempting to revive an organization having a stale and
incredible hardships to unite the known world under one common         outdated vision in need of a fresh look. Visionary leaders also
vision.                                                                tweak and monitor the vision of the organization on an ongoing
                                                                       basis, always aware of the realities of the current circumstances.
The basis of Alexander’s success as a leader was his ability to
inspire his men to think great things and then accomplish them with    The visionary leadership style does not work well when coming into
passion, enthusiasm, and commitment. His inspiring dream was to        a new situation where working with experts or people of far more
unite Europe and Asia under what he called, “The Brotherhood of        experience may cause you to come across as arrogant and
Man.” The brotherhood would bring together different cultures into     overbearing. Hubris does not endear you to others nor inspire and
one collaborating unit governed by the spread of Hellenism, able to    encourage the heart to greater effort. Coming into a new situation
produce synergy through trade, laws, inclusion, and political union.   with a vision, without experience and credibility can produce
                                                                       cynicism, emotional checking out, and sabotage. It is best to
The visionary leadership style of Alexander is the classic mold of     employ other styles in this situation, perhaps the participating style,
leadership currently taught in business schools and military           until credibility and relationships are built. To be credible leaders
academies. Research shows this style to be the most effective of all   must understand their vision and believe in it with passion and
styles because it communicates a sense of common purpose to            transparency so that others can see and connect with their
people and resonates with their hearts and emotions. The feeling of    authenticity.
belonging to something greater than self is what produces the
passion and commitment which generates discretionary effort. A         The most effective leader, including Alexander the Great, employs
strong business case for this style can be made when looking at the    more than one style depending upon the situation. It is the
retention of employees, pride in the organization, inspired and        effortless and seamless moving from one style to the other that
empowered employees, and a shared sense of goals and purpose.          allows the good leader to become the great leader. Empathy is the
Martin Luther King’s, “I Have a Dream”, speech, Ronald Reagan’s,       foundational behavior that under girds great leadership and enables
“Berlin Wall”, speech, and John Kennedy’s inauguration speech are      the leader to sense how others feel and to understand their
all examples of exemplary visionary leadership.                        perspective. And, when the leader understands the emotional
                                                                       climate he or she can choose the style that will prove the most
The visionary leader is able to tap into the hopes and dreams of       effective for the situation. A leader who lacks empathy, on the other
people and create a destination that not only inspires but also        hand, simply cannot inspire others. A visionary leader who has high
challenges them to be better and find their place in furthering the    empathic behaviors will thrive, as Alexander did.
vision. Interestingly enough the visionary leader does not need to
know how to get there but instead creates the environment in which
people are free to innovate, challenge, experiment, take calculated
risks, and empowered to act. Understanding the big picture and

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