In this and the next two issues of Business Partners magazine, readers are treated to a peek inside The Nameless King: 25 Stories of Leadership from Ancient Greece by Artemios Miropoulos. Linking history to modern corporate reality, The Nameless King features a series of stories that deal with different traits of Leadership such as building high potential teams and company culture, leading in crisis, talents, succession planning, women leaders, innovation, and behaviors such as resilience, trust, and fairness.

“The Pactolus…anciently brought down a large quantity of gold-dust, whence, it is said, the proverbial wealth of Croesus and his ancestors obtained renown.”

– Strabo (Greek geographer)

Big bosses, CEOs, presidents and business owners are doomed with a curse. They are deprived of the privilege to ask questions, suggest ideas and discuss their doubts and thoughts for the simple reason that their subordinates or people who simply depend on them rush to agree and immediately begin to implement these ideas without questioning their merit.

I was once strolling on the patio of a winery, together with the owner of the company. He was the heir of a great name and of a great family fortune. He was a senior person in Greek business society, while I was still in my professional infancy.

“You see, Artemis,” he started, “we, bosses, like to play tennis.” I didn’t understand what he meant and looked at him, waiting for more of an explanation. “If your tennis co-player, the person at the other side of the court, doesn’t hit the ball back, there is no game.” What he meant was people didn’t disagree with him, and therefore he had no discussion, no mental challenge to help him improve his own ideas. “My suggestions become orders” as was nicely put by Marshall Goldsmith when he quoted Jean-Pierre Garnier, former CEO of GlaxoSmithKline.

When the leader is around, people are continuously sensing the air to scan his or her preferences, anxiously trying to interpret words, hints, signs of any kind or even facial grimaces. It is natural that the leader does favor certain choices and decisions and it is also true that leaders have a strong ego and want to have it their own way, but most business leaders are clever people and desire to hear a different voice, a challenge that might add a valid point or a totally different perspective that would help them make a wiser decision. It seems this is a scarce commodity the higher one climbs.

 

The Nameless King: 25 Stories of Leadership from Ancient Greece

by Artemios Miropoulos

Published by Linkage Greece (2020)

ISBN 9786180015416