How To Be A Leader Book Summary By Plutarch

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How to Be a Leader is a must-read for anyone looking to become an effective leader.

It offers invaluable guidance on the timeless qualities of successful leaders, featuring pragmatic advice interspersed with anecdotal stories from history and political commentary.

So if you want to learn how to lead effectively and confidently, this book is the perfect resource to help you do just that.

How To Be A Leader Book

Book Name: How to Be a Leader (An Ancient Guide to Wise Leadership)

Author(s): Plutarch

Rating: 4.2/5

Reading Time: 20 Minutes

Categories: Management & Leadership

Author Bio

Plutarch was a renowned philosopher, historian, and biographer from the first century CE.

His influence has been felt for centuries, with his works Moralia and Parallel Lives being seen as highly influential to writers and thinkers such as Shakespeare, Rousseau, and Thomas Jefferson.

His book "How to Be a Leader" explores powerful leadership strategies drawn from Plutarch’s extensive experience in politics and life philosophy.

It is filled with practical advice and guidance on how to become great leaders in any field - business, government, or even family life.

With its focus on cultivating moral excellence and inner strength through living in accordance with nature's laws, this book is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to improve their leadership skills.

Ancient Wisdom On Leadership: Lessons From Pericles, Aesop, And More

Ancient Wisdom On Leadership

Discover the timeless rules of effective leadership with “How to be a Leader”.

Drawing on the lives of some of the world’s greatest ancient leaders, this book outlines sound advice that has withstood the test of time.

You’ll learn why reputation is still important, how communication is key, and whether a young or an old leader is better.

Plus, you’ll gain insights into why it took a great thinker time to wash himself, why a Roman declined a statue offer, and what Aesop has to teach us about young politicians.

“How to be a Leader” provides timeless wisdom on successful leadership – suitable for any age or culture.

Pick up this book today and discover how some of our ancient wisdom can help you lead your teams more effectively!

Motivations For Leadership: Seeking Self-Improvement, Not Personal Glory

It’s important to remember that you should always want to lead for the right reasons.

Otherwise, decisions made by leaders can be ill-informed and unstable.

The example Plutarch gives is of Cato the Elder, a Roman politician who refused a statue in his honor because he would rather have people asking why there was no statue of him than why there was one.

This is an attitude all leaders should take to heart in order to ensure their decision making benefits society as a whole, and not just their own reputation.

Leadership is about inspiring and guiding others responsibly and humbly; it’s not about advancing personal agendas or seeking glory at all costs.

If you truly have a desire to lead, ask yourself why and make sure your motivations are pure before taking up any leadership role.

Leaders Should Prioritize Impeccable Character Over Fame To Avoid Turbulent Fates Like Alcibiades’

The importance of having an impeccable character is crucial for anyone who wants to be a leader.

Pericles, the great Athenian statesman, set the example of how to lead with dignity.

He was known for always being calm and controlled; walking slowly and always keeping one hand tucked in his toga.

People felt they could trust him because he was seen consistently going to the speaker’s platform and council chambers.

On the other hand, Alcibiades showed that having flaws in your character can have devastating consequences.

He earned a reputation for being extravagant and reckless and this eventually resulted in his exile from Athens, even though the city sorely needed his leadership.

The lesson here is clear – if you want to become an admired leader, you must strive for impeccable personal conduct at all times.

This way you won’t have to worry about bad press or condemnation from others – instead you should focus on your political strategies, policy decisions and public actions without reservation or concern.

Leaders Should Be Guided By Wisdom And Reason


Leaders should live and lead according to wisdom and reason.

That’s the key message at the heart of Plutarch’s advice on how to be a leader.

By understanding what it means to be guided by reason, you can create a style of leadership that is beneficial not just for yourself, but also for those under your guidance.

Plutarch suggests taking Logos, or Reason, as our guide instead of merely focusing on one’s own desires, needs and wants.

He says it was God who first identified with the principle of reason – meaning that leaders should strive to achieve this state as well.

To consider what this means in practical terms, Plutarch talks about two rulers – Aristodemus and Theopompus – whose contrasting approaches demonstrate the importance of being ruled by reason.

Aristodemus was so paranoid about being overthrown that he hid his room from assassins whenever he slept; focused completely on his own security over that of his citizens’.

The opposite is true of Theopompus who followed a more democratic approach and elevated other’s voices when governing Sparta; even in regards to potentially weakening his family’s position in power circles.

To support this view further, Theopompus declared “It will be stronger insofar as it will be more stable”.

The lesson here? For successful leadership , we must put away personal ambition and instead act upon wisdom and reason.

This will create a far more stable environment dominated by trust which benefits everyone involved!

The Power Of Persuasive Rhetoric: How Pericles’ Eloquence Preserved Peace In Athens

Throughout history, leaders have had to use their verbal skills to persuade their subjects and fellow citizens.

For instance, In ancient Athens, which was a democracy, persuading was more important than commanding in order to lead.

This is illustrated by Athenian statesman Pericles who was an expert at eloquent and persuasive speaking.

He even managed to win over the Athenians and convince them to remain neutral in battles that were happening around Greece!

Pericles’ success can be explained by his “winning” way of speaking – it was so convincing that even friends like historian Thucydides bet on losing arguments against him!

This persuasive nature enabled him to achieve things that others such as Nicias could not in his later years.

In a famous situation, Nicias attempted to follow the same line of thinking as Perices but ultimately failed due to his lack of eloquence which led Athens into a disasterous military campaign.

It is safe to say then that when it comes down to leading and convincing people – having the ability to speak eloquently and persuasively makes all the difference!

Plutarch’S Unique Argument: Let’S Appreciate Experience And Gray-Headed Leadership

When it comes to leading wisely, older leaders have a few unique strengths that are invaluable in any society.

According to Plutarch, gray hair is a sign of authority and ready leadership; the wisdom and maturity gained by veterans over the years makes them well suited to steering the direction of their society.

This is especially important during times of emergency or crisis as seasoned veterans can remain moderate while making difficult decisions while novices are often too hungry for power and glory at the expense of their nation’s welfare.

Finally, they play an indispensable role in training new generations to take on leadership roles with their experience and guidance when books just aren’t enough; this helps create continuity between past generations and current ones.

By having able veteran leaders who know the ropes guiding young leaders into their own journey, societies ensure lasting stability and progress.

Plutarch: There’s More To Life Than Enjoying Retirement – Politics Can Be A Way Of Life, Regardless Of Age

Enjoying Retirement

Plutarch believed that, no matter what age you are, you can be a true leader who never relinquishes your public duties.

Retiring and taking time away from being a leader should not be the goal when you grow old – it should be to stay engaged in politics and avoid giving in to a life of luxury and extravagance.

He took the example of Archimedes – the Greek mathematician and physicist – who was so dedicated to his work that even when focused on washing himself his servants had to dragged him away while he continued drawing figures with oil they used on him!

In support of Plutarch’s argument, Pompey the Great (a renowned Roman Statesman) disregarded his age as irrelevant when it came to serving in government as opposed to letting himself slip into luxurious habits as Lucullus had done.

He put forward the idea that instead of trying to keep up with younger generations, an older leader should adjust their activity according to their abilities – much like exercise routines for those at different ages.

Ultimately, Plutarch viewed participation in politics positively: something worth doing for the sake of doing it with no ultimate aim or end goal involved.

This is an outlook any leader from any generation can take part in.

Wrap Up

When it comes to leadership, it’s essential to do it for the right reasons and not just for your ego.

Practicing good argumentation, having a good reputation and making decisions rooted in reason can help you become an effective leader.

A key actionable advice from How To Be A Leader is to treat your colleagues with respect even if you don’t agree – this is what was lost on Julius Scipio Aemilianus when he failed to invite one of his political rivals Mummius to join him in a religious feast, which caused much bemused gossip as it damaged Aemilianus’ reputation of courtesy and fairness.

As this book has taught us, developing the proper attitude towards leadership is important and should never be taken lightly.

By maintaining an open-minded disposition towards co-workers while at the same time refusing to compromise on what you believe constitutes right behaviour you can foster an environment fit for successful leadership.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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