Bonaparte: a Bastion of Success, Leadership and Achievement

Topics: Napoleon I of France, Leadership, Decision making Pages: 5 (1686 words) Published: March 12, 2013
Leadership Development

Bonaparte: A Bastion of Success, Leadership, and Achievement
In order to begin to understand the significance of leadership, I believe that one must first ask “What does it take to be a successful leader?” According to one text, a successful leader must “intend to create real changes and outcomes that reflect their purpose.” (Leadership Experience, Daft, pg 5). 17th century ruler Napoleon Bonaparte had a clarified purpose of what he intended to accomplish, and he strategically devised many ways to create changes and outcomes to achieve that purpose. Napoleon’s ultimate goal was to conquer and govern the central mainland of Europe. Bonaparte employed his leadership traits of strategy/vision, decision making, and adaptability to pursue and accomplish his goals in both his military exploits and management of civil matters requiring order and stability. Through these talents he was able to experience success throughout his career as a general and later on as an emperor, and politician.

Napoleon’s leadership skills were great in both depth and variety, but two of the main qualities that helped him to excel as a leader were his abilities to strategize and his management skills. Napoleon efficiently planned and directed his soldiers, resources, and time during his military battles. For example in the Battle of Arcole, Napoleon was elected to lead a young, inexperienced group of soldiers with low rations against a larger, more experienced Austrian army. Napoleon was initially at a disadvantage, with considerably fewer resources to work with then his opponents. However, Napoleon used his strategic management skills to divide his men into three separate groups who each performed a task consisting of distracting the enemy, building a bridge, or ambushing the enemy at night. Through his efficient manner of planning and management, Napoleon was able to produce a victory with very little resources. Similar to a modern day financial planner of a company, Napoleon had to utilize the resources he was given to gain a desired result. As a leader, this is important as one must know how to perform proper management: (attaining organizational goals efficiently by planning, organizing, staffing and directing organizational resources) even in dire situations.

Another leadership trait that contributed to Napoleon’s success was his decision making ability. In the War of the Third Coalition, the French and British navies battled each other fervently. Many of the French Generals had tried to invade the British troops with a direct attack to their main bases of Toulon and Brest. However, Napoleon knew that the British navy was larger than his so he would have to be clever about his actions. Although once again outnumbered, Napoleon went against the actions and advice of other French generals and ordered his army to secretly march to Germany and use a turning movement: attacking the rival army from the rear position rather than head on which they were likely expecting since the others had done so. He also decided to attack Ulm which was their primary base of communication rather than attacking the main bases. Napoleon’s decision to attack Ulm proved to be wise as the French caught the British unprepared. It was the key battle that turned the momentum of the war in the French navy’s favor. Although praised afterwards for his efforts, Napoleon had to employ both optimism and self confidence, two critical characteristics related to effective decision making. Before his battle, he had seen many of his fellow generals and soldiers fail to win, with many getting wounded and dying in the process. However, he focused on the potential opportunities he saw whereas his comrades only saw problems and used that to his advantage. Napoleon also had to demonstrate self confidence during the war as many of his fellow generals advised him to not employ his strategy. However , Napoleon’s assurance in his own judgments and capabilities...
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