Aristotle and Socrates on Leadership – Part One

Plato, Socrates and Aristotle

Aristotle was the student of Plato, who was the student of Socrates

I’m a very big fan of Socrates, essentially the ‘Godfather’ of philosophy. He was the equivalent of Sigmund Freud with psychology. Socrates meant the world to his followers but he never published anything or wrote down any of his works. This is where Aristotle comes into play because he was one of Plato’s best students. Plato was one of Socrates’ students. Aristotle learned a great deal from Plato and subsequently Socrates and came up with his own philosophy.

Three quotes really come to my mind when thinking about Aristotle and Socrates and what we can learn from them about leadership. The first being, “a friend to all is a friend to none” and the second, from his metaphysics, is ,”being qua being”. The first quote is not all that hard to decipher but the second one is deeper. “Being qua being.” When you break it down it means essentially, ‘what is the essence of oneself?’ What is your makeup? What has made you the way you are today? The last quote is from Socrates in the Crito, (which Plato wrote) where he says before he drinks the sap from the hemlock, “It is not living that is important, but living rightly.”

The quote a friend to all is a friend to none really applies to leadership in many different ways. The way I would decipher something like this would be to treat everyone on your team the same, and make sure whenever you are trying to accomplish a common goal that you are honest and sincere. Make sure that you look at everything with an open mind and a level head. A leader that is friendly to all people is not being true to himself. A good leader rarely says yes to everything. Do not be afraid to question or to disagree. This is what ties philosophy and leadership so close together. In leadership and philosophy, you’re always asking the question, ‘why?’ If one of your followers comes up to you and proposes a different solution than you will ask the question why.

The second quote, ‘being qua being,’ falls along the same lines as the one above. However, it goes in and digs a little deeper. I would decipher it essentially the same way and being true to oneself. You can also decipher it and relate it to leadership in a way that would mean, ‘do something that you are interested in’. If you do not have interest in your common goal your followers are not have interest you would need to find what you are passionate about. Something that you’re passionate about often times plays a strong role in one year essences what is your make up?

The last quote from Socrates applies to leadership in a very broad way. If you are wanting to be a leader you are simply going to have to do things the right way. That means living the right way in making sure that your motives are good, and your head is in the right place. Many times, leaders are just motivated by money and that’s not a good motivation. As a society we are questioning our leaders more than ever. Due to corruption, greed, and untrustworthy people in our government our companies and throughout the world. If you are looking at becoming rich off of being a leader that he will not go too far because your morals and your motives are not in the right place. Remember what Socrates said ” it is not living that is important but living rightly”. The best leaders are often good people at heart lookout for the best interests of their followers and set a good example for them.

In conclusion these are three very important quotes that I take into consideration when I leading a group of people. If I am not honest and sincere with my followers and I do not show the slightest bit of good morals and judgment then my group will not perform in the goal will not be reached.

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