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I have chosen to profile Napoleon Bonaparte, because his life is the best example of the idea that charismatic leadership is not enough to create significant and lasting achievements. At the same time, his sudden rise to the top not only exemplifies a dramatic life story, but it also serves as a cautionary tale to show that ambitious leaders who do not consider the lives of other people will themselves die a tragic death.
For the purpose of this study, I decided to use two websites. The online version of Encyclopedia Britannica provided a scholarly source regarding the life and times of the famous French military leader. For the second website, I chose an online article written by a military officer, also a renowned historian, who authored a book about the leadership style of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Based on information gathered from the two websites, the central idea that caught my attention was that Bonaparte’s success on the battlefield was not significant enough to cover his failures after careful consideration of the overall impact of his leadership. For example, Bonaparte failed in his personal life, as he was separated from his loved ones. Furthermore, he was responsible for the senseless deaths of hundreds of thousands of soldiers under his command (Godechot 1).
It is interesting to note that historians oftentimes highlight the ability of Napoleon Bonaparte to win in battles wherein his army was outnumbered and headed toward defeat. However, these historians failed to focus on the fact that these victories were the result of Napoleon Bonaparte’s charismatic leadership style (Riley 1). In other words, the French general under consideration inspired his troops to die on the battlefield, but he was unable to justify the sacrifices that his men made for him. In the end, Bonaparte was unable to strengthen the position of France as a major political player in Europe. He was not a good leader, because he allowed his personal ambition to cloud his judgment. The best example of the negative effect of his problematic ego was his decision to invade Russia, to enter a vast territory close to wintertime because he wanted to destroy his enemy without regard to the physical limitations of his army (Riley 1).
Due to Bonaparte’s desire to win without considering the long-term impact of his actions, he forced a 600,000-strong army to march into Russia. He stayed for several weeks in the hostile territory because he wanted to break the will of the Russian army. However, he miscalculated the impact of the freezing winter weather. As a result, though he brought more than half a million soldiers to fight when he ordered the retreat, he was left with only 100,000 soldiers, not to mention the loss in terms of horses and weapons. Thus, it is important to go beyond a person’s reliance on charismatic leadership and focus on strategies and leadership philosophies that were created to produce substantial results.
I believe in a leadership philosophy wherein the leader serves his subordinates. I am reminded of King Arthur’s fabled knights of the round table. According to legend, King Arthur designed a round table in order to provide a visual reminder that he was a commander who treated his knights as his equal. This leadership philosophy is also anchored in the idea that an effective leader is someone who manages limited resources in order to accomplish substantial goals. In other words, a good leader is not obsessed with personal gain, he is also mindful of the success of his followers or co-workers.
In order to become a good leader, there is a need to have a clear understanding of the team’s focus and purpose (Llopis 1). The role of the leader is to analyze the goal in relation to the resources at his disposal; and then, he must develop a strategy that brings into consideration the success of the whole team. This is not an easy task. In a normal situation, a manager or business owner focuses on the profitability of the organization. The leader’s obsession with tangible results oftentimes leads to executive decisions that discourage subordinates from working beyond the requirements of the job.
This particular leadership philosophy is not only interested in accomplishing goals. It is imperative to develop goals and strategies, not only to increase the company’s revenue or to expand the operation of the enterprise. The leader’s long-term goals are created to uplift the socio-economic conditions of the members of the team. It is a difficult task to create goals and strategies that will benefit all employees or subordinates. It is easier to focus on selfish goals. However, a good leader understands the futility of ignoring the needs of other people. History books are filled with stories of dictators and self-centered leaders who were unable to experience a good and happy life with their loved ones. Many of them died lonely and tragic deaths.
It is, therefore, important to change people’s mindset when it comes to effective leadership. It is also of great value to reconsider how people appreciate success and failure. It requires significant leadership skills to win as a team, because it is different from a leadership philosophy that utilizes subordinates and co-workers as stepping stones along a leader’s path to greatness. It is indeed a difficult task; however, the use of the stated leadership philosophy provides a deeper sense of satisfaction for the person leading the team.
Leadership Issue in the United Arab Emirates
Politicians and economic leaders from the United Arab Emirates are grappling with a controversial issue concerning migrant workers (Malit and Youha 1). A non-government organization focused on human rights abuses cited problematic labor practices within the UAE, wherein there are allegations of the exploitation of migrant workers. It is of utmost importance for the UAE’s policymakers and politicians to introduce legal measures that will ensure the protection of these workers. They need to work fast, because there is a symbiotic relationship that exists between the UAE and migrant laborers. The failure to understand this dependency with regard to each other will, in the long run, ruin the economic transformation of the UAE.
Without a doubt, the UAE was built on the profits that were made through the drilling and exportation of fossil fuel. In point of fact, the oil-rich UAE made billions of dollars through the petroleum business (Malit and Youha 1). However, visionary leaders understood the long-term consequences of overdependence on limited resources. Thus, in the past few decades, visionary leaders have paved the way for the transformation of the UAE from an economy dependent on oil exports into an economy that creates products and provides services through different types of businesses. In this regard, the country requires the assistance of migrant workers.
One proof that UAE officials were serious in changing the negative image of the UAE’s employment sector was the recent announcement of the removal of an old practice that allowed employers to confiscate the passports of their employees. There are also new laws that empower migrant workers to transfer employer sponsorship (Malit and Youha 1). Finally, UAE officials also implemented legal frameworks that ensured wage protection for migrant laborers.
In the past, the absence of the aforementioned legal measures made it easier for employers to abuse the privilege of hiring workers from abroad. Consider the impact of the ability of employers to confiscate passports: This type of action creates opportunities for employers to detain workers and severely restrict their movement (Human Rights Watch 1). In most countries, it is a criminal act to limit the movement of people, and it is a grave abuse of authority to force workers to work at a certain factory or warehouse, without the power to choose the best employer.
Now is the best time to focus on these changes, as the UAE’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, due to its magnificent transformation from a country that mainly exports petroleum to a nation that attracts tourists due to its beautiful architecture and impressive tourist spots. It is also important to point out that the UAE is creating a sustainable future for its citizens, because the government saved a great deal of money by employing workers from foreign lands. Thus, if these workers refuse to work in the UAE, the economic future of the country will be affected in a negative way. It is beneficial, both for the UAE and migrant workers, to figure out the best solution to these labor issues, that at the end will create a winning atmosphere for all parties involved.
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Godechot, Jacques. Napoleon Bonaparte. 2016.
Human Rights Watch. United Arab Emirates: Trapped, Exploited, Abused.
Llopis, Glenn. Change Management Requires Leadership Clarity and Alignment. 2014.
Malit, Froilan and Ali Youha. Labor Migration. 2013.
Riley, Jonathan. How Good was Napoleon? 2007.