I recently re-read a book on Napoleon by British Historian Andrew Roberts. Napoleon of course is known to some as one of great military commanders in history. But I looked for Napoleon’s broader leadership style and character. This is what I took away from the book:
– Napoleon had trained his mind to compartmentlise extremely well. So the night before a major battle he was writing the constitution to a Paris school, before switching back to battle planning. Needless to say, he performed well in crisis.
– He had an incredible attention to detail and never stayed in ivory towers: he would ensure he knew everything from what boots his troops wore to which officers were pulling their weight.
– He was very inquisitive, always asking questions, not afraid to show ignorance, and kept abreast of the latest inventions.
– He worked very hard – averaging fifteen hour days.
– He was extremely efficient with time – rarely allowing idle time to pass wasted. When he bathed or shaved, he would have someone read the newspaper to him. He never spent more than 20 minutes on meals; he diluted his drink to ensure he never got drunk.
– He catered to his troops needs, ensuring that each was asked about his well being by officers.
– He praised those that did well, and promoted on merit, rather than kin. As a result, he commanded vast loyalty.
That said, he didn’t always win battles, as I’m constantly reminded on my daily commute to Waterloo!
Sign up to my regular newsletter here: