Leadership Lessons from the Ancient World
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More About This Title Leadership Lessons from the Ancient World


As the demand for comparative studies of leadership rises, managers and trainers are looking harder than ever for new studies to which trainees will not bring preconceived idea. This unique book delivers just that. Though the contexts have changed, the examination of ancient events from a business perspective provides a wealth of useful insights on how the process of leadership works. From China’s first emperor Liu Bang on vision and Pericles on integrity to Alexander the Great on communication and Ramesses II on courage, Leadership Lessons from the Ancient World combines history with business to show that the universal strategies used by great leaders of the past are still relevant today.


Arthur Cotterell, former Principal of Kingston College in London, has spent many years combining senior educational management with historical research. He is the respected author of more than thirty books, and is now writing on the Chinese empire, from the history of which he considers one can learn as much about leadership as from Ashridge or Harvard.

Roger Lowe, Vice Principal for Planning and Resources at Kingston College, is a chartered manager with experience of management training in both the public and private sectors. For Roger, the lessons of ancient leadership in this volume are particularly relevant at a time of globalization and technological advance.

Ian Shaw is a training and development manager with Nestlé Purina Petcare. Having worked in a variety of large and small companies, his current work is strongly focussed on leadership development. It is his firm belief that leadership development will play a key role in sustaining commercial success over the next decade.




1. Courage: the daring of Ramesses II at Kadesh.

2. Risk taking: Thutmose III’s handling of his forces.

3. The ability to motivate: the military revolution of Wuling.

4. Creating a compelling vision: the commoner emperor Liu Bang.

5. Developing people: the Han emperor Wu Di’s approach.

6. Focusing on results: the strategy of Themistocles.

7. Integrity: the political supremacy of Pericles.

8. Taking decisive action: the critical decisions of Epaminondas.

9. Influencing people: Alexander’s multi-ethnic kingdom.

10. Leaving a legacy: the abdication of Candragupta.

11. Representing the business: Hannibal’s invasion of Italy.

12. Creativity: the resourcefulness of Zhu Geliang.

13. Learning: Li Shimin and Wei Zheng.

14. Change: Sulla’s constitutional reforms.

15. Networking: Cicero’s efforts to find allies.

16. Dealing with conflict: the policies of Vespasian.

17. Empowerment: Diocletian’s imperial reforms.

18. Recognising achievement: the triumph of Belisarius.

19. Leadership gambles: shifting the odds in your favour.

Suggestions for further reading.



"Erudite certainly, but hugely readable." (Education Journal, February 2007)

"readable and relevant" (Long Range Planning, 40/2007)