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In brief

Are Leaders Born or Are they Made? The case of Alexander the Great

By Manfred F R Kets de Vries with Elisabet Engellau

Karnac Books pound;9.99

"Hugely encouraged by his mother, who instilled in him the conviction that he was descended from the gods, an example of unlimited ambition, of desiring to have it allI" No, it's not Francis Albert Sinatra, but Alexander the Great, the famous statue. Following what is a discernible trend to find leadership lessons in great figures from the past, these authors take a close look at the man who conquered most of the ancient world before his death at 32.

What made him tick? The book seeks answers in Alexander's troubled childhood and his austere education at the hands of Leonidas. Lessons are drawn for modern managers: "Model excellence" ("he lived the soldier's life, sleeping in simple tents and eating mess food") and "Invest in training and development" ("he looked to the future by developing the next generation, schooling young Persians in the ins-and-outs of Macedonian warfare").

It's a well-written and manageable account of the life and driving forces of a man whose name, I suspect, is more familiar than any details of his story.

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