“The first principle of a general-in-chief is to calculate what he must do, to see if he has the means to surmount the obstacles with which the enemy can oppose him and when he has made his decision, to do everything to overcome them.”
Be it a scholar, an intellectual, a history buff, or a contemporary management student, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte remains, to this day, something of an enigma, both tantalizing and elusive- but at the same time presenting a most rewarding subject for study be it of tactics, administration or leadership skills.
What makes a general, who had fought more then 60 battles and was blamed for the deaths of more than 1,750,000 soldiers in his time, a subject for a topic like leadership? Lets take a more, as the general would say, unemotional and impartial view of both, Napoleon’s military as well as administrative characteristic, to understand why his maxims are today taught as an essential part of any professional managerial course on leadership and management as a whole.
Be it in war, business or charitable organizations, the personal charm or the magnetism that a leader has on his subordinates becomes an important trait in making him successful. As seen in the case of Napoleon, his personal charm and sway over his listeners, made them hold him in awe and fulfill his every command. A combination of his confidence, intellectual capabilities and methodical and almost natural genius made the bravest of soldiers and the tackiest of statesmen, eat out of his hand. He practiced this charm to the point of making it look like an art and would go to great lengths to sway his contemporaries in his favor.
Twelve O'Clock High As a paradigm of the effectiveness of contrasting leadership styles relating to a specific managerial environment. By Perry SaputoProfessor Thomas SchillarFebruary 1, 2000 BPA 395 Paradigms of Leadership Twelve O'Clock High Introduction to the paper's subject, and primary objectives: General information regarding the topic of this paper: The purpose of this paper is to ...
Above his personal charm Napoleon also possessed extraordinary mental faculties. There was never an object too small for his attention or a subject too vast for his time. Throughout his military and administrative career, Napoleon displayed a legendary mental dexterity of the kind not seen before of after him. He could remember vast economic statistics to the point reaching as back as 5 years, or pinpoint the exact location of an army unit on a map and throw in their movement patterns for the next week for greater measure. Also the fact that made him superior to all other strategists of his time and beyond was to never confuse “the wood for the trees.” He was apt at predicting the movement and tactics of his opponents in advance to the tune of not weeks but months. He was a voracious reader and retained all he studied like a sponge. Moreover he was able to apply it to real situations. This further went a long way to increase his influence over France and all those he conquered.
“ Give me enough medals and I shall win you the war.”
Time stands witness, no leader has succeeded without the loyalty and trust of his followers, which in turn comes with the relationship the leader and his minions share. Napoleon who understood the psychology of the men of his time practiced this rule.
For instance, throughout his career, during any battle, the rations given to the common soldier and an officer, including the general himself, was same. He could pinpoint a soldier, remember his valor in a particular battle and award him a promotion or a medal on the spot. He gave one and all, the chance to rise to high posts based on their endeavors and not by who they were born as.
Emperor Napoleon, more than any man of his time, knew that change was inevitable, and had to be promoted for the betterment of the masses. He distributed the fruits of the French Revolution, namely liberty and equality to all countries he conquered. He was the first in the old monarchial Europe to allow farmers the possession of their lands. He passed numerous laws towards the encouragement of liberal arts and professional studies. Napoleon took personal interest in all these reforms and personally sat through 38 out of the 87 commission meetings for the reforms. Such was his interest and involvement in these laws that a meeting never ended until the law under consideration was rectified. The greatest commemoration to this body of laws, known as the Napoleonic Civil Code, is the fact that various variants, and some even unchanged are still practiced in every country in Europe and many countries around the world.
... 2000, p. 28). Napoleon won a series of battles in the Six Days Campaign, but could not ... Alliance in 1807 (Asprey, 2000, p. 23). Personal skill – the exemplary hero Napoleon’s biggest ... to save bullets, supplies and at other times because they were suffering from the bubonic ... of feudalism. Among his other achievements, Napoleon emancipated Jews from laws which restricted them to ghettos, ...
Even while on military campaign to Egypt, he had an entire entourage of scholars and intellectuals along with him to study the ancient culture. The Rosetta Stone, which finally unlocked the secrets of the Pyramids to the world, was found during this campaign.
In order to survive a leader needs to be inventive, in order to face unexpected challenges and lead his team to victory. This sort of inventive spirit was the hallmark of the Napoleonic Wars. Through all his battles whenever faced with insurmountable odds, Napoleon would come up with a new tactical move to checkmate his opponent.
As seen in the battle of Marengo, to get over the superiority of numbers of the Austrian forces, Napoleon brought on a combination of forced marches, envelopment actions and rapid attacks to defeat 2 separate armies and not allowing them to ensemble together.
His reconstitution of individual divisions of the Grand Army, in the form of completely independent fighting units also went a long way to give him the successes he enjoyed in more than 60 battles.
Hard Work & Will Power
“Work is my element. I have recognized the limits of my eyesight and of my legs, but never the limits of my working power.”
No leader has ever achieved his position with the lack of hard work and dedication to one’s job. Napoleon was no exception to this rule either. As First Counsel, he had a normal working day of 18 to 20 hours, with an entire fleet of secretaries and assistants virtually dying to keep up to his pace. Though of frail health himself, it was sheer force of his will power and nerve that kept him going. Even during campaigns, he personally went through the finest details of the battle, constantly moving in the thick of battle to get first hand information of the proceedings and also motivating his soldiers through personal valor. This was best seen in the Russian Campaign when along with only his personal guard, Napoleon defeated and routed the fearsome Russian Cossacks. Though leaving the tactical decisions to his generals, as they were present on the spot, all strategical matters used to receive his personal acid test.
The army has three general orders, the first being “I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.” This means when a soldier is on duty he is to be present and attentive to the post he is assigned to. Said soldier is accountable for the post and must be prompt and on time and may not leave the post until he is relieved by another soldier, who ...
Coordinated & Resourceful
In order to survive and thrive, it is not only important to find the resources that one needs but also to coordinate their use to acquire the set targets.
Napoleon a old hand at being innovative, exactly knew the resources at his disposal, at a given time. Be it soldiers, guns, rations or the talents of a statesman, he understood man & material management well and utilized it to the fullest. His entire career is a tribute to these qualities. How else can one explain the sudden rise of a lieutenant of artillery to an Emperor, in the face of odds like the combined armies of Austria, Prussia, Britain, Russia and other European powers, big and small?
Decisive & Opportunistic
Success or failure, many a times depends on a single timely decision. The ability to take a quick decision and save the day differentiates a good leader from a successful one.
Napoleon, in an age where traditional methods of combat were predominant, brought in the trait of quick and fiery decisions that would be taken at the spur of the moment in the thick of the battle. As seen in both the instances, the almost lost siege of the fort of Mantua or the Battle of the Pyramids against the fearsome Marmelukes, the odds were piled against the young general. It was only his accurate assumption of the situation, proper planning keeping in mind the changed situation, clear insight and finally the clear and precise orders to the concerned commanders, all in the matter of minutes, that won him these battles. This ability to execute clear and lightening fast orders separated Napoleon from all the other generals of his time, and gave him the title of one the Best Generals to ever wage war at any given time.
Leo Tolstoy's novel, War and Peace, contains three kinds of material, a historical account of the Napoleonic wars, the biographies of fictional characters, and a set of essays about the philosophy of history. Critics from the 1860 s to the present have wondered how these three parts cohere, and many have faulted Tolstoy for including the lengthy essays, but readers continue to respond to them with ...
In business as in battle it is very important to exploit an advantage that has been handed to you by your opponent or time. It also forms an important characteristic of a successful leader, to recognize and utilize a given opportunity to the advantage of the team. Napoleon never missed out on any such gifts handed to him. Be it the mistake of an opposing general, or the contour of the terrain, he exploited it to the fullest. Even as an administrator, Napoleon’s rise to power first as First Counsel and then as Emperor can be attributed to this rule.