What would be your choice?
In The Practice of Management, published in 1954, Peter Drucker wrote: “The first systematic book on leadership is the Kyropaidaia of Xenophon – himself no mean leader of men – and it is still the best book on the subject.” Xenophon also wrote Anabasis (commonly known as The Persian Expedition) in which he explains how, in the fourth century B.C., he and others in a Greek army of 10,000 they fought their way back to the Black Sea against overwhelming odds.
In Drucker on Leadership, William Cohen explains that after being selected to be the commanding general, Xenophon selected and then summoned subordinate generals, instructing them on leadership. Here are the basic principles, first articulated almost 4,500 years ago:
1. Leaders must set the example in terms of both attitude and behavior. They must be the first to do the most difficult and most unpleasant work.
2. Leaders need to be more courageous than those who follow them. This is especially important when in harm’s way and specific perils are unknown.
3. Leaders must be in total self-control and exercise firm discipline fairly and consistently. They expect outstanding results.
4. Leaders train others to think in terms of actions each must take that will achieve success. Help them to “see” the benefits to them.
Cohen also offers a “distillation” of all of Drucker’s thoughts about leadership from an abundance of resources. He provides a model suggesting the five basic components of effective leadership:
• Strategic planning by the leader as the foundation
• Business ethics and personal integrity as necessary conditions
• Leadership as taught in the military as a baseline model
• Correct perception and application of the psychological principles of motivation
• The marketing model as the general approach
In my review of Cohen’s book, I briefly discuss these five components.
What do you think is the best book on leadership?