5 Life Lessons from Napoleon for Effective Leadership

Drawing leadership inspiration from Napoleon’s timeless wisdom.

5 Life Lessons from Napoleon for Effective Leadership

By age 35, Napoleon Bonaparte had conquered almost half of Europe, became Emperor of France, and won more battles than Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar combined.

Here are 7 life lessons from Napoleon that can help you become a more effective leader.

1. Being hands-on

Napoleon would always be within range of enemy guns and cannons. He suffered wounds and escaped death multiple times. But being close to battle allowed him to command his troops with lightning speed. You need to get your hands dirty and be directly involved in the work from time to time.

2. Build relationships

Napoleon knew the power of being likeable. It’s why he joked, ate and drank with his men. He personally promoted those who impressed him and even plucked medals from his own uniform to give to soldiers. Your personality is your best asset – show your team that you value their contributions often.

3. Understanding your team’s needs

While not being religious, Napoleon recognised that faith was vital for social cohesion. He would say “Deprive the people of their faith, and you will be left with nothing but highway robbers.” As a leader, it’s essential to understand and respect the needs of those you lead. And that keeps them in line.

4. Prioritising your battles

Napoleon would not answer his mail until three weeks after he had received it. He especially noticed that by then, 80% of the issues resolved themselves and he didn’t need to write back, leaving him to deal with larger matters at hand. Learn to differentiate between small issues that can resolve themselves and bigger ones that require your attention.

5. Reading to lead

At age 9, Napoleon read an 800-page novel by Rousseau. Throughout his life he devoured authors like Plutarch, Cicero, Voltaire & Montaigne. He often reread the campaign stories of famous leaders like Alexander & Caesar. Read books by great leaders if you want to lead.


In conclusion, Napoleon Bonaparte was not only a successful conqueror but also an exceptional leader. The 5 life lessons we can learn from him are relevant not only to leadership but also to personal growth.

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