Xenophon’s Cyrus the Great by Larry Hedrick

Cyrus the Great

Summary
  1. Larry Hedrick recounts Xenophon’s telling of the amazing accomplishments and leadership of Cyrus the Great, King of Persia. He created the largest empire in the history of the world up to that time and the leadership principles covered are applicable in any field, even today.
Key Takeaways
  1. Through real-life examples, Cyrus shows how to conduct meetings, become an expert negotiator, deal efficiently with allies, communicate by appealing to th self-interest of others, encourage the highest standards of performance, ensure that your organization has the benefit of specialists and prove that your words will be backed by your deeds.
  2. Other’s loyalty comes mainly from self-interest
  3. Obedience should not be the result of compulsion
  4. Address different audiences with different emphases
  5. Give followers options, even if already know the outcome
  6. Grow and protect your reputation at every opportunity
  7. Banish emotion from your decision making
  8. Mild rebuke works better than loud indignation
  9. Be as honest with yourself as you are with others
  10. When blameworthy, humble yourself in front of critics
  11. Strengthen your composure at the moment of crisis
  12. Success should never breed complacency
  13. Honor everyone who acts honorably
  14. Riches are for sharing, not for harvesting and hiding
  15. The truly contented man is not the possessor of vast riches. The crown of happiness goes to the person who has the skill to gain money fairly, use it honorably, and not mistake gold for a god of power and light
  16. Humility in the midst of success
What I got out of it
  1. When Peter Drucker says it’s the best book on leadership, you better pay attention. An extremely easy to read book that is just as relevant today as it was centuries ago and is applicable to any field that requires leadership. Must read.

  • Xenophon was a Greek historian and originally detailed Cyrus’ great leadership principles
  • Endure hardship and respect authority/elders
  • Early on, you can expect nobody to believe in your destiny as much as you do
  • Cyrus learned early on how to suppress emotion and respond to danger with great composure
  • Serve as a moral compass
  • Absorb as much knowledge as possible
  • Seize any unexpected opportunities
  • Inspire followers with an enticing vision of the future
  • Know when to keep your own counsel
  • True leadership is making people all they ought to be
  • Err on the side of self-reliance and plan ahead
  • Other’s loyalty comes mainly from self-interest
  • People are quick to obey those wiser than themselves
  • Plan for every turn of events
  • Only one way is always open, the way of sympathy
  • A leader must set the best example and always share the glory
  • Don’t promise what can’t uphold
  • Obedience should not be the result of compulsion
  • Be cautious of overconfidence
  • Confidence coupled with humility
  • Exude confidence, not anxiety
  • In the face of danger, be eager, not intimidated
  • Address different audiences with different emphases
  • Minimize distinctions of rank and encourage teamwork
  • Create comradeship and community by sharing pleasures
  • Get rid of bad influences immediately
  • Direct the energies of internal rivalries outward
  • Delay showing the extent of your strength
  • Stout hearts lead from the front, not the rear
  • Motivate your people by recognizing merit
  • Use your own people to plead your cause
  • Understand the motivations of your followers
  • Victory must be secure before fruits can be harvested
  • Success always calls for greater generosity. Can gain a precious treasure called loyalty by being generous with friends and allies
  • Cyrus goal was to be the most benignly powerful man alive, not the richest
  • Earn loyalty by rewarding your critical allies first
  • Good fortune is no excuse for self-indulgence
  • Brevity is the soul of command
  • Strive to achieve a solemn sense of unity
  • Surprise your friends with shows of generosity
  • Whenever you can, act as a liberator
  • Give followers options, even if already know the outcome
  • Grow and protect your reputation at every opportunity
  • Wield psychology like a weapon
  • Banish emotion from your decision making
  • Indiscipline presages defeat
  • Mild rebuke works better than loud indignation
  • Be as honest with yourself as you are with others
  • When blameworthy, humble yourself in front of critics
  • Be frank about the challenges ahead
  • Seek suggestions from subordinates
  • Strengthen your composure at the moment of crisis
  • Negotiation can work better than naked force
  • “Know yourself, O King, and happiness will be yours”
  • Excessive ambition is the precursor of disaster
  • Your people are your most precious treasures
  • Success should never breed complacency
  • Honor everyone who acts honorably
  • Riches are for sharing, not for harvesting and hiding
  • The truly contented man is not the possessor of vast riches. The crown of happiness goes to the person who has the skill to gain money fairly, use it honorably, and not mistake gold for a god of power and light
  • Openly reward your best people
  • Blessed are those who take the initiative
  • Humility in the midst of success

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