Joseph Lee's Perspectives
My view of the world
July 12, 2008--Does Napoleon matter today?

                Yesterday, I wrote a somewhat tough piece on the CEO of GM, Mr. Wagoner.  And as I look over some of my other comments, whether they concern George Bush, corporate behavior, or even golf, I’ve found that I’ve been somewhat unkind to people in positions of leadership.


                Perhaps I’m jealous, I say to myself.  Maybe that’s why I’m tough on them.


                Or did I have a slew of bad bosses?  I think hard and grimace.   Maybe some truth in that one, too.


                Last night, I sat down in front of the TV and watched a movie called The Contender (2000- Jeff Bridges was nominated by the Academy for best supporting actor and Joan Allen for best actress).   I recalled it to be a fairly well-done political thriller, the premise being a female senator being nominated to succeed a vice-president who died in office and how her confirmation hearing turns into a big sexual discrimination fiasco.  The big question –does her past sex life matter, since it would hardly matter for a male candidate.


                In a soaring speech to a joint session of Congress, President Evans (Bridges) opens by quoting an old warrior:


Napoleon once said when asked to explain the lack of great statesmen in the world, that "to get power you need to display absolute pettiness; to exercise power, you need to show true greatness." Such pettiness and greatness are rarely found in one person…(IMDB Database)


I think back to Mr. Wagoner.  To Mr. Bush, and to all the people who have reached powerful positions that I know of, and amazingly, I see how true Napoleon’s words could be.  It is the rare leader (or statesman, per Napoleon) that has both qualities, and they are the special ones.


If your title in a corporation begins with the letter “C,” ask yourself, do you past the Napoleon test?

2008-07-12 07:56:49 GMT
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