The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership: Classical wisdom for modern leaders
M A Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas
What can business leaders learn from the philosophers of ancient civilisation?
The authors Soupios and Mourdoukoutas believe that successful modern day leaders like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs have benefited from an inner clarity that allows for full concentration on the challenges at hand. The American scholars propose that wisdom from the greatest thinkers of the ancient world, such as Aristotle, Plato, and Sophocles, can help people widen their perspective in the long and difficult path to authentic leadership.
The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership explores the core idea that great leadership must come from within – with a deep analysis and questioning of yourself and your own motives before you try to lead others. This concise book presents a summary of ten big philosophical ideas, supported by theoretical examples, to help leaders develop their own philosophy:
- Know thyself Thales: Know your strengths and weaknesses, your bright and dark sides. Corporate history is littered with stories of great companies like Eastman Kodak, Lehman Brothers and Enron that failed because arrogant leaders took success for granted. Develop an accurate understanding of yourself, and be quietly confident without being too vain or proud
- Office shows the person Pittacus: When leaders have authority, it brings out their inner world and reveals whether they have honestly understood themselves and how they will apply that power. Power has the capacity to corrupt. True leaders use power wisely, lead by example and create a pleasant work environment
- Nurture community in the workplace Plato: Leaders need to nurture employees with the right support, guidance and incentives. A well-functioning team should be constantly willing to put aside personal interest in favour of the greater good – with the responsibility for fostering this culture lying with the leader. Always think: “We” not “I”
Leadership is not the same as management…Only those men and women who have developed a carefully conceived philosophy of life are capable of genuine leadership”
M A Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas
- Do not waste energy on things you cannot change Aristophanes: Focus on things you can control and change, not the things you can’t. Be prepared to share responsibility for failing projects and set aside personal egos
- Always embrace the truth Antisthenes: Encourage candid criticism and be sceptical of flattery. Hire a heretic or two and let them speak their minds
- Let competition reveal talent Hesiod: Nurture an environment that releases the ingenuity and creativity of your employees and the positive force of competition. For example, you could get teams to develop two rival marketing/advertising ideas to present to a reviewing panel. The heightened competition will make each team focus on developing the best possible proposal
- Live life by a higher code Aristotle: Earn the respect and trust of your employees through the integrity of your character, not your power. Be ready to assist those in need and be principled without compromise. If your character has integrity, sub-ordinates should become faithful followers
- Always evaluate information with a critical eye The Skeptics: Don’t accept anything at face value and never rush to judgement. Always question the things you are inclined to take for granted and be mindful of the context and source of information
- Never underestimate the power of personal integrity Sophocles: Personal integrity is critical in a leader – never try to justify dishonesty and deceit. Begin your career with a strong conviction for professional conduct and maintain your moral compass
- Character is destiny Heraclitus: True leadership is about character – much of what we call destiny lies in our own hands, not in forces beyond our control. The character of a real leader is the result of a carefully crafted philosophy of life
Another nugget of wisdom from Antisthenes is the suggestion that there are only two people who will tell you the truth about yourself – an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly. That’s not a bad starting point for re-thinking your own leadership approach.
About the authors M. A. Soupios, PhD, is professor of political philosophy at Long Island University, where he has taught for more than 30 years. He holds eight graduate degrees including four earned doctorates. Panos Mourdoukoutas, PhD, is professor of economics at Long Island University. A regular contributor to Forbes.com, he has been published in The New York Times, The Japan Times, Newsday, and other publications.
Reviews “Fortunately, there are books such as The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership to remind us that the past is rich in experience. Many things that were true 2,500 years ago, argue MA Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas, are still true today” Financial Times
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Author: M A Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas