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Corporate leaders

Learning a different way to lead a production organisation

Leading a company as if it were an army in combat. Strategy and tactics, a sense of organisation and (calculated) risk, the ability to arouse enthusiasm and lead from the front, and also to endure and innovate on the field. Features that can also apply to good entrepreneurs and managers, taking into consideration, of course, the differences existing between actually waging a war and tackling the challenges that company leaders face every day.

These are the premises adopted by Gianfranco Di Pietro (philosopher) and Andrea Lipparini (full professor of innovation management) in writing Strategia e leadership nella storia. Lezioni per i manager (Strategy and leadership throughout history. Teachings for managers), a book that it is neither a history textbook nor a business administration manual for good entrepreneurs, but something very different, and as such very interesting to read.

The book’s aim is to present a leadership training model that integrates a historical narrative. At first, then, readers learn about the exploits of great leaders who inspired and motivated people to follow them with the utmost devotion, before being presented with an analysis of those great figures’ abilities and mistakes, the lessons we can learn from them and how we can apply them in practice in order to develop and refine leadership skills within production organisations. Thus, for instance, the vicissitudes of Carthaginian general Hannibal teach us about winning strategies, such as studying the enemy and enhancing soldiers’ skills, while also showing how one’s homeland might not be too interested in providing political support and the danger of underestimating an adversary’s tenacity. The experience of Julius Caesar, who championed swift action and efficient problem resolution, reveals the importance of training and motivation, as well as the need to maintain alliances and support. Finally, the rise and fall of Napoleon testify to his organisation and tactical expertise, but also to the negative implications of failing to increase the number of collaborators and overestimating one’s own abilities.

The authors believe that leadership skills, as well as managerial techniques, can be learned, and throughout the book they suggest some ideas for reflection, as well as indications on how to effectively integrate history within training paths for current and future leaders.

Di Pietro and Lipparini’s work make for good reading as, indeed, it does not aspire to be a manual but only to provide some food for thought, looking at things from an unusual perspective. Its narration comes to a beautiful ending: “It is, perhaps, the ability to adequately balance past and present that links those who have confidence in their skills while also acknowledging that they are not unique.”

Strategia e leadership nella storia. Lezioni per i manager (Strategy and leadership throughout history. Teachings for managers)

Gianfranco Di Pietro, Andrea Lipparini

Il Mulino, 2022

Learning a different way to lead a production organisation

Leading a company as if it were an army in combat. Strategy and tactics, a sense of organisation and (calculated) risk, the ability to arouse enthusiasm and lead from the front, and also to endure and innovate on the field. Features that can also apply to good entrepreneurs and managers, taking into consideration, of course, the differences existing between actually waging a war and tackling the challenges that company leaders face every day.

These are the premises adopted by Gianfranco Di Pietro (philosopher) and Andrea Lipparini (full professor of innovation management) in writing Strategia e leadership nella storia. Lezioni per i manager (Strategy and leadership throughout history. Teachings for managers), a book that it is neither a history textbook nor a business administration manual for good entrepreneurs, but something very different, and as such very interesting to read.

The book’s aim is to present a leadership training model that integrates a historical narrative. At first, then, readers learn about the exploits of great leaders who inspired and motivated people to follow them with the utmost devotion, before being presented with an analysis of those great figures’ abilities and mistakes, the lessons we can learn from them and how we can apply them in practice in order to develop and refine leadership skills within production organisations. Thus, for instance, the vicissitudes of Carthaginian general Hannibal teach us about winning strategies, such as studying the enemy and enhancing soldiers’ skills, while also showing how one’s homeland might not be too interested in providing political support and the danger of underestimating an adversary’s tenacity. The experience of Julius Caesar, who championed swift action and efficient problem resolution, reveals the importance of training and motivation, as well as the need to maintain alliances and support. Finally, the rise and fall of Napoleon testify to his organisation and tactical expertise, but also to the negative implications of failing to increase the number of collaborators and overestimating one’s own abilities.

The authors believe that leadership skills, as well as managerial techniques, can be learned, and throughout the book they suggest some ideas for reflection, as well as indications on how to effectively integrate history within training paths for current and future leaders.

Di Pietro and Lipparini’s work make for good reading as, indeed, it does not aspire to be a manual but only to provide some food for thought, looking at things from an unusual perspective. Its narration comes to a beautiful ending: “It is, perhaps, the ability to adequately balance past and present that links those who have confidence in their skills while also acknowledging that they are not unique.”

Strategia e leadership nella storia. Lezioni per i manager (Strategy and leadership throughout history. Teachings for managers)

Gianfranco Di Pietro, Andrea Lipparini

Il Mulino, 2022