All empires become arrogant. It is their nature.
– Rutherford, Edward (Author)
If you wish to be a success in the world, promise everything, deliver nothing.
– Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor
At what point does something become an empire? There are some that state that “an empire is a large political party who rules over territories outside of its original borders” For me that seems like a good definition although I would replace “large political party” with “entity”. In some cases, the empire is nothing more than the dreams of a single individual and it is his will, his determination that is driving the whole domination of others. And, to be honest, if you do the replacement with “entity”, the comment is applicable to empires that people build within organizations.
You’ve seen them, I’ve seen them, everyone working in a company of more than two people has probably seen them. There’s at least one person just a little bit more aggressive than others, a little more driven than the others. a little more domineering and thinks that they need to control just a little bit more than they already have. Depending upon the organization the person may be able to stage a bloodless coup and end up being in charge of more and more “stuff” (people, dollars, processes, etc.) And, if done well, no one even realized that it was happening.
This happens in the political world, the cultural world and the business world. It is all over the place. And sometimes these events are for the best. Sometimes the existing environment is so “not good” (much better than the curse-laden phrase I originally came up with) that something needs to be done. Someone sweeps aside the existing reality for a new vision. Warren Bennis, a pioneer of the field of Leadership Studies said that “leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
Isn’t that what we all want? We all want a vision to grab onto, a vision to help us see what can happen, and a leader to help us achieve that vision. But there is a subtle nuance there. We want a leader to help us achieve the vision and we want to know that it is integral to their being as “a great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position“. (John Maxwell)
Above all the leader, whether of a corporate empire or a multinational empire, needs to be doing it for other people. Historians talk about the Reluctant Kings, those who rose to power, not because of the power they would have but in spite of the power. Those who ruled not because they wanted to, but because they had to. True servants of the people. Those are the people for whom empires are built, not for them or by them, but by those they serve.
A person who is worthy of being a leader wants power not for himself, but in order to be of service
– J. Ervin Jr. (U.S. Senator)
True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not to enrich the leader.
– John C. Maxwell (Author)