In this article, you will learn 1 about the history and actions of Napoleon Bonaparte and 2 11 leadership lessons from Napoleon you can apply today. French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was a huge driving force in history, building and creating France to what it is today, and showing a great example of what leadership is to the rest of the world. He was one of the most brilliant military tacticians and strategists of his time and, unorthodox though his methods were, no one could deny how brilliant of a leader he was.
He was fearless in the battlefield, and had enough charisma to draw people in with his words.
Of course, there are other words that have been used to describe him: tyrant, motivator, revolutionary, ruthless politician. But one of his most enduring titles was that of a leader. Before becoming a prominent figure during the French Revolution and the Revolutionary Wars, Napoleon started out from humble beginnings, born to a family of minor nobility in Corsica.
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He then rose up, starting out at the bottom of the military ranks until he became a military general and, at the age of 34, the first Emperor of France. Get a full picture on the life and actions of Napoleon Bonaparte by looking at this presentation. You do not have to be part of the military in order to be able to apply the leadership lessons that Napoleon taught through example. A good leader, be it of a fleet of warriors, military troops, or a corporate team, all follow the same fundamentals, and most of them can be learned from Napoleon Bonaparte.
Be greedy. Of course, it goes without saying that the effort you put in should also be at its fullest. There should be no room for half-assed attempts or half-hearted cracks at something. Being present is already expected from a leader; but being present where you are needed is more important. Napoleon had many people with large amounts of abilities, skills and talents under his command, and he skillfully led them where their skills are needed or required. He made it a point to be there with them, so he could direct them better.
The battlefield was his domain, and that was where you will find him, alongside and in front of his men. Napoleon was a very effective motivator. War time is definitely not a time for upbeat spirits, but with several speeches, he was able to revive the fighting spirit of men who were battle-weary and have been facing the poorest of conditions as they were led by a succession of incompetent leaders and commanders.
Being a leader means having the willingness to get your hands dirty. For Napoleon, no job was beneath him. Even when he was a celebrated general, he had no qualms about getting down from his steed and getting into the trenches.
He participated in the work of those that he led. This ensured that he was kept aware of what goes on in the lower ranks even when he was already up there. For a while, the pictures painted of the quintessential leader was one that sits behind a desk or on his throne , barking and giving orders to his subjects or servants, expecting them to buckle down and do what he told them at that very moment. This easily makes for a divisive relationship, one where the followers would have no respect for their leader, and doing something because they are told to do so, without them even wanting to do it.
Being hands-on is something that employees are bound to appreciate from their leader. It tells a lot about the character of a leader when he attempts to work side by side with the people he leads. It is easier for both sides to connect and collaborate, and therefore finish the task at hand effectively and efficiently.
Empty promises are not what you would hear from a good leader. Giving false hopes, on the other hand, is the same thing. Napoleon advocated delivering on what has been promised and by this was great at expectation management. This effectively inspired confidence and trust in his people, so they were willing to follow him wherever he led.
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It is important for your people — and for everyone else — to see your sincerity as a leader, and by choosing your words carefully, you can show that you mean business. There is a general misconception that a leader must be able to do everything alone. That certainly defeats the purpose of leading a group.
You need help? Then ask for it. Napoleon, no matter how accomplished a soldier and tactician he was, could not have won battles if he were alone in the charge. He needed help from others, and he was not above lowering himself and doing things for others in order to ask for it. In the end, he was able to accomplish what he set out to do.
Our consultants conducted in-depth interviews with 25 leaders at premier private equity firms in Europe and the US, as well as with 15 current or former portfolio company CEOs, gathering both qualitative and quantitative data. We augmented this firsthand perspective with secondary research on the topic, emphasizing the identification of proven tactics that would be applicable across a range of organizations. This project would not have been possible without the remarkable generosity of these 40 executives, and we are grateful for their time and insights.
Their incisive observations about both successes and failure offer a unique window into a world that is often largely inaccessible to outsiders. A special thanks to the following private equity leaders, who were among those we interviewed. Aside from those specifically quoted in the study, CEO interviewees have been kept anonymous in order to ensure that they would feel comfortable in openly sharing lessons learned from their work with PE sponsors.
About half of them, it turns out, are wrong. Succeeding as a portfolio company CEO means more than bringing traditional general management experience and skills or producing impressive statistics around sales growth or expense reductions. Instead, it means fully understanding and embracing the perspective of the PE investors—but then forging your own path to success.
To help CEOs understand how to start and stay strong in a PE-backed company, Green Peak Partners and Russell Reynolds Associates recently interviewed 25 leaders at premier private equity firms as well as 15 current or former portfolio company CEOs whom those investors identified as being among their most successful. From these interviews, we have distilled what top-performing CEOs do to both engage effectively with their PE sponsors and succeed in the market. And since the avoidance of pain is often a stronger motivation than the pursuit of pleasure, we offer a what-not-to-do list in the form of six common yet flawed assumptions that often blindside incoming CEOs.
In reality, once the deal is sealed, PE firms take extremely different approaches to their portfolio companies. In some cases, CEOs told us their PE firm was fairly hands-off or would get involved in just one aspect of the company. In others, the firm was heavily involved in everything from sales strategy to employee benefits offerings.
All firms, for example, will ask their CEOs to operate with a sense of urgency, provide detailed updates and communicate frequently—but what that means in actual terms can range widely. One PE investor we spoke with defines frequent communication as speaking with his CEOs three or four times a week, another is satisfied with once-a-week calls. Operating with urgency means the CEO is up and running within three months for a managing director at one firm; his peer at a different firm allows for a year or even 18 months. The variations across PE firms are substantial, but with the right mindset and careful attention, new CEOs should ultimately be able to unearth them.
As many CEOs have told us, the personal motivations of the people on the deal team—where they are in their careers, how their financial incentives are structured and how their other portfolio companies are doing—can deeply influence the decisions they make about your company. Understanding this is important for the CEO to be successful.
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Junior members may be more cautious under the pressure to deliver consistent results—or they may be more willing to take risks for larger rewards. Senior members with more political capital may offer a CEO more latitude—or they may become more risk-averse as they near retirement. The upshot is that the specific people in the room can often matter more than the firm that employs you.
His board initially pushed back and asked for more details, wanting to engage on the underlying assessment of the issues as well as the recommended costly solutions. This immediately changed the conversation. He told us the three things he needs to do to drive results. The firm leader was able to pull out of the details, reorient the board around the higher-level questions and provide Dobbs the runway to make changes to the company, which ultimately repositioned the company for success.
Portfolio company CEOs will not always have the luxury of a leading partner on their boards, but one step they can take in any circumstance is to drill deeply into the unique styles and motivations of each individual member of the team to understand how best to work with them. Who will be involved in the day to day? Where does decision-making authority lie? How are team members compensated? Where is each person in the pecking order, and how many deals and exits have they had?
What other external pressures are team members facing that might affect their work on your company? Armed with that information, CEOs must then manage those motivations.
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