Ancient Greek Plutarch: A good role model and leadership

  • eudaimonia
  • Posted in Linkedin
    Dimitris Mavromatis

Some friends of mine are keeping asking me why I am dialing with Ancient Greek Philosophers and their theories. There is only one answer. As Greeks we must be shamed we haven’t studied them, apply their simple quotes into our daily life and make ourselves better persons. Because the problem that our country is facing at this moment is not the economic crisis, its 100% crisis of culture, education and social behaviors.

Role model

A person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulatedby others, especially by younger people.

Plutarch: Be a good role model

Plutarch, the ancient Greek historian and educator, understood that humans are incredibly social creatures, who constantly observe the people around them and imitate them.

Unfortunately, people often grow up surrounded by bad role models. However, we can steer people, by providing them with better patterns to imitate. That’s what Plutarch tried to do with his famous work, Parallel Lives, which offered biographical sketches of some of the great Greek and Roman heroes – Cicero, Caesar, Alexander the Great, Pericles – to give young people something to emulate.

In organizational terms, that means what you say to your employees is less important than what you do. They will watch how you behave, how you treat others, how you cope with pressure and whether you follow through on your promises. And they will imitate you. If you talk about ethics and then cut corners at the first opportunity, they will follow your lead.

Set a good example and they will follow it. Plutarch would also warn that your best young employees will use you as a bar to aim for and exceed. That’s natural. Let them compete with you and encourage them to go further.

Plutarch and his lessons in Leadership

“What does the ideal leader look like?” seems to be one of the primary questions that is being asked. Of course, as a leader is first and foremost a role model, there is also the theme of “what does the ideal person look like?”  How can one best develop leadership competencies?  Certain aspects of leadership can be acquired by participating in training, observing role models, engaging in work experience, reading research and theory, and practicing self-leadership.

Manz (1991) found that practicing self-leadership provides a testing ground for learning and developing leadership competencies. Observing effective leaders is an excellent way to develop leadership competencies.

Following or “shadowing” respected leaders over time allows one to witness firsthand how leaders apply their skills in various situations. Allowing time for after-the-fact reflection and discussion is important. Apprenticeship or administrative assistantship is still another way to develop leadership competencies.

Here leaders identify and then place potential leaders in positions as apprentices or administrative assistants. Leaders guide and model while the apprentice actually performs leadership tasks and gains practical experience. In this role, leaders encourage, inspire, tutor, and mold their charges into future leaders.

Finally we have to remember some of Plutarch s  quotes

  •  To make no mistakes is not in the power of man; but from their 

            errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the   

  • To find fault is easy; to do better may be difficult.
  • Character is long-standing habit.
  • Moral habits, induced by public practices, are far quicker in making their way into men’s private lives, than the failings and faults of individuals are in infecting the city at large.
  • Know how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly.
  • Nothing is harder to direct than a man in prosperity; nothing more easily managed that one is adversity.