Dr. Norman Sandridge Discusses the Value of Ancient Leadership with Forbes' Brook Manville

Forbes blog, Brook Manville

Dr. Norman Sandridge discusses with Brook Manville his five-step approach to translating the study of ancient leadership into contemporary practice:

1. Identify: The first step is simply to identify instances of leadership, “just as an entomologist might collect different kinds of butterflies,” he explains, adding that as you read, you should collect examples of someone “exercising authority, delivering a persuasive speech, articulating a problem, making a decision on behalf of a group. And look beyond roles and titles that are the traditional markers of leadership."

2. Analyze: Next, break the examples into constituent parts and explore the implications. “Say you come across an ancient leader who will do anything to win, no matter what—the Greek concept of philonikia," Sandridge notes. "What are the situations where such a tendency would help a community and when might it involve so much risk-taking, self-aggrandizement, squandering of resources, and counter-productive negotiation that it actually destroys a community?”

3. Translate: In this step, Sandridge asks readers to make the connection with meaningful leadership issues today: “The key is to translate your analysis to how you see yourself and what problems you see facing your organization. Do you find the examples of ancient leadership analogous to contemporary ones? If not, what do the differences tell you about your issues today?”

4. Evaluate: In this next step, readers judge leaders' morality and/or effectiveness in the story. “Once you have an idea about how an ancient example could apply you," Sandridge says, "ask yourself, 'Would this be a good or ethical thing to do?' Would it work for me and my organization?'"

5. Practice: The final step shifts your learning into action for yourself. “Once you’ve developed some ideas of good leadership behavior from ancient examples, practice them in your role as leader—as soon as you can find an opportunity to do so. If you make practice your ultimate goal, you will continue to reap the benefits of your study for self-improvement.”

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