Modern Leadership Lessons from Hannibal

By. Taylor Wells

 Let me start by saying clearly, no, I am not talking about Hannibal Lecter, creepy cannibal villain from Silence of the Lambs. I’m talking about history’s greatest Hannibal, the Carthaginian military leader who nearly brought the Roman Republic to its knees (yes, the same Hannibal famed for crossing the frozen Alps with several dozen war elephants). As the book’s authors puts it: “Hannibal was triumph. He embodied it as Hercules personified strength and Odysseus cunning.”

I recently finished a terrific book, Hannibal and Me: What History’ Greatest Military Strategist Can Teach Us About Success and Failure. While we may be talking about a man dead for thousands of years and far more well-known for wiping out legions than leading board room discussion, the book asserts that this legendary figure offers valuable lessons for today’s business leaders.

Key points to take away include:

The importance of setting goals
Hannibal was tasked with a goal by the Carthaginian political leadership: carry war to the heart of Italy and subdue the upstart Roman Republic. He did not do so rashly or without planning. He spent time assembling men, weapons, provisions and other equipment. He took time to study the terrain of battle and choose what he thought was the best way to win. We can all do the same thing in our business lives. Speed is critical, but not at the expense of quality. Ensure you have the right equipment, training and support to get the job done. And learn as much as you can about your profession and your competitors.

continue reading »