This is an interesting post and it reminds me a lot about the book I’ve been trying to write in my spare time for the last couple of years. For the last ten years I’ve made an informal study of Napoleon’s life and career. I must have read 50+ books on the subject. And the book I am working on attempts to take the major lessons from Napoleon’s career, both good and bad, and use these lessons as guides for leaders in a modern business.
Some of the mistakes of CEOs that the post refers to (Arrogance & Volatility), which are taken from this book, remind me of Napoleon, who perhaps you could think of as the first modern CEO.
One of his biggest mistakes IMHO was nepotism. Making his four brothers and brother-in-law Kings of countries he annexed created a rod for his back. Promoting someone of a lesser capability to a position of power just because you think they will be loyal to you might work for as long as you are able to command them directly, but it is a plan doomed to failure as soon as you need them to think for themselves. How often do we see this in a large company? How often do we see people get promoted, not because they have superior intellectual horsepower, but because they are seen to be loyal to the promoting manager and he/she thinks they will make him/her “look good” to his/her superiors? What you end up with usually is a house of cards. The best leaders I have observed tend to hire and promote people they consider to be smarter and more capable than they are.