First impressions count, and what better way to start a new leadership role than by entering office in style. That was the opinion expressed amongst a recent sample audience; after watching a video of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, participants agreed that workplace leaders are more inspiring when they receive their position in a ceremony.
Few offices have the traditions and resources of the Royal Family, but history provides us with more affordable examples. Amongst those are the 3 inspirational entrances of Peisistratos, a leader in Ancient Athens. In addition to his big ideas and innovations, Peisistratos was a master of establishing himself in leadership roles; his career, as recorded chiefly by Herodotus, may serve as valuable advice to us all.
1) The Injured Guardian
Peisistratos’ first inspirational entrance involved grass-roots support and a dose of guile. Politically, Athens was split into three groups; Peisistratos ingratiated himself with one of those groups and became a recognisable public figure. He then manufactured a personal disaster that angered his supporters and opened the opportunity for him to seize power.
Riding into the mountains and out of sight, Peisistratos purposely wounded himself and his pack animals. He then presented himself in public, claiming to have been attacked by his enemies. Clouded by their fondness for him, his followers sought to protect Peisistratos, and the Athenians agreed to appoint him a group of armed bodyguards. Riding on this wave of sympathy and anger, Peisistratos seized the government with his bodyguards and began his rule.
Have you ever known an ambitious person to create a crisis, and use it to introduce himself as a new leader? What was the result?
Needless to say, Peisistratos was chased out of Athens before long, which brings us to his second entrance.
2) The Ordained Leader
Not long after losing his position, Peisistratos was given a second chance to win hearts and minds. Athens was suffering from social discord, and Peisistratos was invited to marry into a powerful family and resume his leadership. Still, his reputation was poor… how was he to get people to follow him?
Finding a tall and attractive woman, Peisistratos dressed her in armour and rode with her into town. Messengers told the people that Peisistratos was a favourite of Athena, and was being reintroduced by the Goddess herself. With friends like Athena riding next to him, Peisistratos was quickly accepted with open arms and.
How are new leaders and managers announced in your office? Does being introduced by the top brass lend a certain weight to the process?
Unfortunately, not all marriages end well, and his new wife soon had Peisistratos chased out of town again.
3) The Gracious Conqueror
Grand entrances don’t always involve an amusing plan; in his last return to power, Peisistratos took a straightforward route. After meeting with investors and securing funding, he hired a large number of foreign consultants and executed a hostile take-over. He soon found himself entering the city at the head of an army, with his opponents fleeing in terror.
This conquest, however, was tempered by an act of self-interested mercy. Peisistratos had his own children ride out and tell the Athenians that they should calm down and return home. Following this unfortunate kerfuffle, he took charge and led the city in a reasonable manner.
Have you ever worked in an office that was bought out or absorbed by another department? How did the new leadership make their entrance, and how did you adjust?
This article was originally posted in 2015