Greatest Of World Conquerors: Alexander The Great Leadership

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The reign of Alexander the III as king of Macedon (336 to 323 BC) overthrew the Persian empire, carried Macedonian arms through his ruthless acts of having one ideology, to conquer, India and built the fundamentals during the Hellenistic period of territorial kingdoms. His phenomenal success had many defining factors as to why and how he was ‘Great’, however his ruthlessness almost ultimately determined his success. Alexander’s logical way of thinking and unique planning strategies revolved around his ruthless leadership style, which exemplified him as a historical figure from the ancient world. After his father’s assassination, he murdered his rivals through ruthless acts and stole the crown to be king. In his childhood, his mother, Olympias, had a major role through her ways of teaching and the false accusations about Alexander’s father, Zeus-Ammon being his father and not Phillip II of Macedon. These acts contributed to Alexander conquering most of the Mediterranean, most of Europe, and the borders of India, thus single-handedly creating the Macedonian Empire, under his leadership.

Alexander the III was charismatic and ruthless considering his men were inspired through his acts of a leader and followed Alexander through hardships and were willing to sacrifice their lives, if necessary, during the process. Elizabeth Carney, the author ‘Olympias mother of Alexander the Great, is a Professor of Ancient History at Clemson University in South Carolina, as well as she’s an author of Women and Monarchy in Ancient Macedonia. She states Alexander the Great’s upbringing was affected by his mother, Olympias, through her pitiless attitude and a savage woman. His ruthlessness during wars and against his opponents may have derived from his mother, Olympias, ‘Modern conventional wisdom knows Olympias as a pitiless and savage woman, a practitioner of barbaric Dionysiac rites compelled by jealousy and ruthless ambition to the murder of her rivals in order to secure her son’s succession to the throne of Macedon.’ (Carney, 2006). Carney explains his mother was a big influence on Alexander’s success and through her power-hungry and bloodthirsty attitude, it may have been inherited into Alexander’s way of leading and, Brooke Allen, a critically acclaimed writer (for major titles such as The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic and The New York Times), states that he was a ‘ruthless, ambitious, self-centered prig’ through his youth and approaching his adulthood, became of a man ruthlessly dedicated to his own ambition, resolute to the belief he was invincible. The idea of Alexander believing in himself being invincible may have derived from his mother’s lies of expressing Zeus-Ammon, ruler of the Olympian gods, being his father instead of Phillip II, his biological father. Through this belief, his mindset was essentially set under believing he was a son of a god, (not a literal god walking on earth, as this notion would be hysterical to the Greeks who had known of him) as he presented himself as godlike against opponents he’d conquered, to whom this notion may not have been so peculiar.

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Alexander the III’s unique strengths as a military leader possess uniqueness compared to other historical figures. His lust for his ruthlessness is evident through Quintus Curtius’ account on his document describing the fears of the Macedonian troops as they reach India. His unwillingness towards his soldiers only ended in deaths to pave a path for a way for him to the ocean, only to see more enemies. Quintus Curtius portrays the unjust treatments given by Alexander himself however the succession of his ruthlessness ultimately thrived him. Arrian, a Greek historian, exemplifies Alexander’s aims as a leader showing an undeniable portrayal of the type of leader Alexander was, ‘he would always have searched beyond for something unknown, and if there had been no other competition, he would have competed against himself.’ (Arrian, 140 AD) Arrian claims that, with against no competition, Alexander would’ve competed against himself. This source alone validates the classification of the word ‘great’ in his name exemplifying, even if he knocked and destroyed everything in his path, he would still have competed against himself to feed his insatiable lust for glory. Quintus Curtius and Arrian identify the unquenchable behavior of Alexander’s ruthlessness on the battlefield. The evaluation of the two sources complements his unique strengths as a military leader that reflects on his ruthlessness. Brooke Allen states that Alexander’s necessary strictness to achieve total victory coincides with his ruthlessness in a unique fashion.

The unification of Alexander’s ruthless leadership style alongside his tactical skills on the battlefield accounted majorly for his success. He was widely opinionated as a ruthless man who’d only quenched his thirst for conquest, however, others saw him as a person of intelligence and “statesmanlike vision” (Hammond Preface). In N.G.L. Hammond’s book, ‘The Genius of Alexander the Great, attempts to refrain from writing from his own perspective and opinion about Alexander and more widely focuses on the few surviving narratives about Alexander’s achievements in an unbiased manner.

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Greatest Of World Conquerors: Alexander The Great Leadership. (2022, February 26). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
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