Leadership at the peak – Two types of leaders

By George W Nyabadza

AFTER several years of research, study and observance I am convinced that effective leaders can be classified into two distinct categories: leaders in their time and leaders beyond their

time. It’s funny how I have developed this thesis over an extended period of time but never really crystallised the principle until I sat watching a movie about ancient Greece. I hardly sleep more than five hours a night and when I am on a 17-hour transatlantic flight, my sleeping patterns are completely disrupted by living in four time zones in a two-week period, getting as much as two hours’ sleep becomes a blessing and a miracle in its own right.


So having done all the reading I wanted to do and having used up the three hours of battery time on my laptop I decided to find a decent movie to watch. I had heard about the movie Troy from several critics in my NLP study group and had promised myself that I would make time to watch it. So when I saw it on the list I decided this was as good a time as any to watch it. For those who haven’t watched it, Troy is about the ancient Greek warrior hero, Achilles who some say is purely mythical whilst others argue that he really did exist. Achilles was a “super-warrior” who killed many fighting heroes amongst the Greek tribes and the other foreign tribes, establishing himself as undefeatable and leaving many to believe he was endowed with fighting powers from the gods.


The movie depicts him in a fighting scene where he defeats a giant warrior hero from another tribe leading to peace between the tribes. An intriguing story about the power of love over reason follows when Hector and Paris from Troy abduct Helen, the beautiful wife of the brother of Agamemnon, the ruler of the Greek tribes, resulting in the latter summoning over 50 000 Greeks in their warships to go over the seas to attack Troy and rescue the beautiful Helen. What is interesting and what, for me at least, is relevant to leadership is the fact that the two protagonists for the war were not really in it to rescue Helen, the real reason for the war was about power and history. Agamemnon wanted to consolidate his position as the most powerful ruler of all time whereas Achilles wanted “to be remembered throughout the ages”.

Over and over again he states that only those that give their lives to do something so extraordinary, highly risky but with a phenomenal payoff (my interpretation) would be remembered in centuries to come. Agamemnon invites Achilles to go to war with him, despite the fact that the warrior was known as uncontrollable, egotistic, selfish and power hungry, for the simple reason that with him on the Greeks side the war would be won. Achilles goes to war despite his vocal distaste for Agamemnon’s leadership because it presented the right opportunity to be the hero who would spearhead the fall of Troy, one of the most powerful empires of the time.


The rest of the story is intriguing and the movie deserves to be watched but Achilles was right, his exploits are still being told 3 000 years latter. In the fight for the history books Achilles demonstrated the principle in my leadership thesis of leading in your time and leading beyond your time. As a leader a key test of your effectiveness is what happens after you are dead.


Will your name be remembered for the changes you caused to history’s timeline or will your achievements die with you?

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