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Weekly Wisdom 3-2-2016

Cyrus the Great?  What can I learn from this old guy?

Last week, a couple people from HR attended the excellent Leadership Conference sponsored by the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement. One of the takeaways Katelyn Jones shared was a quote from Cyrus the Great:  “Unity in command; diversity in counsel.” I’ve always believed that better decisions are made when broad discussion is encouraged. When people believe their ideas and thoughts have been truly considered, they’ll support the decision even it isn’t exactly what they wanted. There’s a lot packed into those six words!
So, I’m hooked.  Who was this Cyrus character? What did he do and why should I care?
Cyrus was a Persian King 2500 years ago (reigned 550-530BC). He created the largest empire the world had seen. He is remembered for being different. In comparison to other rulers during the era, he respected the cultures and beliefs of others. He incorporated his enemies’ cultures and customers into his empire. In a book written by Xenophon , a student of Socrates, the following leadership lessons are attributed to Cyrus:

1. Be a Force for Good. This goes without saying doesn’t it?\

2. Be Loyal. Be faithful to your commitments.

3. Be Self-Reliant.  “You’ll always be on better terms with your allies if you can…give them all they need and your troops will follow you to the end of the earth.”

4. Be Generous. Most people who have success take on more greed. This is the opposite of what a great leader does. Success calls for greater generosity.

5. Be Brief. “Brevity is the soul of command. Speak shortly, decisively and to the point.” Use logic and move on.

6. Be in control. “…discipline always brings rewards.”

7. Be Fun. Share food and drink. “No kindness between (people) comes more naturally than sharing food and drink…” If you have leftovers, share them.

8. Be an Example. “… (people) who respond to good fortune with modesty and kindness are harder to find than those who face adversity with courage.”

9. Be Courteous and Kind. This seems to be one of those things that everyone desires. Often though, selfishness is the trait most exhibited. “…one fine instance of generosity can inspire dozens more.” 

All of us lead from where we are. Perhaps you’ll find ways to think about and reflect on these leadership skills. Have a great week.

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