Alexander the Great, Hannibal, and Julius Caesar. Three of the greatest generals of antiquity. But what made them great and what can we learn from them about leadership? My guest explores those questions in his book Masters of Command: Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, and the Genius of Leadership. His name is Barry Strauss and he’s a classicist and military historian at Cornell University. Today on the show we discuss the traits all three of these men possessed that made them such military geniuses, including audacity, ambition, and a little luck. Barry walks us through the five stages of war that each of these legendary commanders navigated and where each thrived and floundered. 

Barry then makes the case that while Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar each experienced success in the short-term, in the long run all of them failed to achieve their ultimate aims because they became victims of their own success. We end our conversation discussing what these commanders’  shortcomings can teach modern leaders in any kind of field, and whether it’s possible to be both a bold visionary leader and a great manager.

Show Highlights

  • Why Barry decided to focus on Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar  
  • How each of these men rose to great power 
  • Why Alexander the Great decided to take on the Persian Empire
  • What was Hannibal’s aim in taking on Rome?
  • Why Caesar goes to war agains his own country 
  • The mixture of personal ambition and grand national aims in each of these men
  • The personal and military strengths of each 
  • The incredible role luck in the careers of Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar
  • The 5 stages of war 
  • Common problems of conquerors 
  • How each of these conquerors ended up floundering in the end  
  • Is it possible to have ambition and great leadership skills, and also know when to stop?
  • How these ideas can carry over into modern realms 

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Connect With Barry

Barry’s website

Barry’s podcast

Barry on Twitter

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The post Podcast #487: Leadership Lessons From the 3 Greatest Ancient Commanders appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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