Lead Like Alexander. Lead Boldly, Innovate Often.Posted: September 17, 2012
How do you handle an unstoppable enemy?
Alexander and his Greek army faced the Persians at the Battle of Arbela in 331 BC. Alexander’s bright armor shone in the sunlight, a beacon at the front of the Greek host. His troops followed, devoted to their leader, and ready to face what lies ahead.
The Persians had many advantages going into this battle, war elephants, overpowering numbers, and copious cavalry. But the scythed chariots were likely the most formidable.
This technology was dangerous, and fast. It was difficult to stop, and almost impossible to face head on. Darius had cleared the field in preparation for this battle. He had leveled the ground and removed vegetation, all so his chariots could have a clear avenue for their maneuvers. This was key to his strategy.
Alexander knew this and compensated for it. He didn’t attack through the main portion of the smooth battlefield, he aimed for the right side of the massed enemy and the rougher terrain on the outskirts of the field. Darius saw this and tried to stop him, consequently, the Persians attacked sooner than planned. And in a location less favorable to his strengths.
The Greek army had also prepared for the chariot with training and the exercise of discipline. They practiced a maneuver where the block of soldiers, called a phalanx, would split into two, away from an oncoming chariot, then like a trap move in behind and close off the front as well.
They also trained special soldiers with javelins and other weapons to take out weak spots of the chariots to disable them. By acting together, in concert, the Greek army eliminated the threat of the chariots.
The battle ended when Darius fled the field, and the rest of his army followed. Alexander was victorious yet again. This victory led to the end of the Persian empire and the spread of Greek culture through their lands.
When I looked closer I saw 2 more things Alexander the Great excelled at:
- When faced with a larger army, on a prepared battlefield, Alexander assessed his options, saw open, unprepared ground on his right, and forced his opponents to move, changing their plan.
- Alexander had to innovate how to fight the Persian chariots. The soldiers had to train, persist and work as a team, communicating consistently to make this tactic effective.
I have learned, that like Alexander the Great, when facing an obstacle, I can:
- Seek out options. Once I have a list of options, I then need to make a choice and move boldly on.
- I can study out something new/unfamiliar, seek inspiration, be creative. Then I can focus on the solution and act out the plan.
Alexander the Great was one of the greatest generals of all history.
Learn from him.
Lead like him.
What is your biggest obstacle right now? What options do you have?
Twenty Decisive Battles of the World, Lt.Col Joseph B. Mitchell & Sir Edward Creasy