Marcus Aurelius’ Advice on Becoming a Better Business Leader

Try saying that ten times fast. Well, don’t actually — it’s not particularly pleasing to the ear; there’s no alliteration but I suppose ‘Becoming a Better Business…’ is as close as I could think of.

But that’s not what this article is about.

In my capacity as a Social Media Consultant for Poprouser — a Miami-based HR and People Operations firm — I often tweet a relevant business topic to keep in line with the company’s vision. At times I’ll tweet something conventional and at times the geek inside me wants to delve into ancient history and tweet about how it is relevant to today’s business world.

It’s been almost a month since I tweeted an article from Business Insider that discussed Marcus Aurelius’ 10 rules for being an exceptional leader. The Roman Emperor authored a journal on the teachings of Stoicism which was later collected as Meditations.

To this day, the book is widely sold and read. Marcus Aurelius knew what he was talking about which is why we keep up with his teachings — along with our daily (and imperative) dosage of useless celebrity gossip which is also enlightening and essential to our growth as individuals.*

It is a text that I have only recently come across and one that I have to continue to revisit. One particular section has left an imprint on my mind. The first tip from the Business Insider article is the following:

Mike Nudelman/Business Insider

Book Eight of Meditations focuses on the above statement. Certain lines have stuck out to me:

“Men exist for the sake of one another.” (pg. 83)

This got me thinking about the necessity of team building and mentorship and how these are two essential factors needed to become a leader.

Years ago as an undergraduate student I was asked the difference between a leader and a manager — and I was stumped. I had never given this thought; Is there a difference? Is ‘leader’ one name and ‘manager’ another name for the same role? ‘What’s in a name?’ as Shakespeare wrote.

There are perhaps varying opinions on the subject but the fellow who asked me this question explained that a leader influences and develops his/her followers while a manager gives orders and supervises. For our second LinkedIn article we encouraged our readers to not simply be a ‘Cog in the wheel’ and to be indispensable to their organization—linking to two articles on the subject of leadership.

Book Eight ends with the line ‘Enter into every man’s ruling faculty; and also let every other man enter into thine.’ (pg. 83)

As a leader, how often do you pick the brain of those whom you lead? Do you understand their strengths as well as their interests and what opportunities to you provide and create for them to utilize those strengths/interests?

Knowledge is power and is of the utmost importance. Intelligence is the creative application of knowledge; it is of the utmost importance and perhaps underused.

Going back to my capacity as a Social Media Consultant for poprouser—I have been fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to utilize my passion. My interest in writing (and my B.A. in English) are being used to craft an article such as this one as well as edit/proofread blog posts written by the company’s Managing Director, Cody Bess.

Perhaps a simple and small example—but nonetheless this serves as an example of leadership. Men exist for the sake of one another. I feel that this position allows me to grow and to develop as a leader; such an opportunity could have only been granted to me if my superior was a leader himself/herself and NOT by the definition above — a manager.

Meditations feature many lessons that can be applied to today’s world. What I have written about in this article is a small example but is nonetheless relevant. Often the ancient wisdom of our ancestors (though I’m not descended from Ancient Rome — as far as I know!) remain relevant to this day.

The teachings of Stoicism are relevant as one must master his/her mind and understand that the Universe is in control of the circumstances—but we can be in control of how we handle those circumstances, whatever they may be.

Whether you are in a leadership position or are aspiring to be a leader, I would recommend the teachings in Meditations as a guide in your journey to develop yourself and others.

*Sarcasm of course. Just in case the concept is alien in your neck of the woods.

The translation for ‘Meditations’ by George Long in 1862 was used as the reference for this article.

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