Updated: May 10, 2019
We recently introduced you to the Spartan 36 Solutions Leadership Principles: Competence, Initiative, Purpose, and Integrity. These principles make up the foundation of good leadership and serve as a leader’s guidepost. This week, we will take a more in-depth look at the first Spartan 36 Solutions Leadership Principle, competence.
In our post Competence and Character we had this to say about competence: Competence is the ability to accomplish a task. Wherever you are leading today, competence is being able to meet the expectations defined by your organization. Being able to execute the tasks and organizational expectations is one of the primary reasons someone is in management. They are able to get the job done, hopefully, through influencing others. A leader without competence lacks the ability to accomplish their assigned tasks.
Ancient Rome gives us some great examples of competent leaders. In particular, we will look at Julius Caesar and the Roman General Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. In autumn of 59 BC, Julius Caesar laid a siege on the Gallic city of Alesia. Caesar’s four legions were outnumbered nearly four to one and quickly built a series of fortifications surrounding the city. With Alesia isolated Caesar then had another series of fortifications constructed facing outward. The two fortifications formed two rings around Alesia with the Roman forces occupying the space between the outer two rings. The Gallic king, Vercingetorix, simultaneously attacked the inner fortifications with 80,000 soldiers from within Alesia and the outer fortifications with a relief force that had been camped near the city. The Gallic forces were defeated by both Caesar’s forces stationed between the fortifications and Marc Antony who trapped the Gallic relief forces between himself and the outer fortifications.
In our post Spartan 36 Solutions Leadership Principles – Part 1 we introduced you to Roman General Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. In that post we stated, One of history’s most competent leaders is actually a little known Roman general who played a critical supporting role to Octavian, who would go on to become Caesar Augustus. This general, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, can and should be credited with playing a decisive role in the successful collapse of the Second Triumvirate in 33 BC ending the Roman Republic. Additionally, Agrippa’s generalship was critical in Octavian’s defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra in 30 BC and establishing the Roman Empire under Caesar Augustus. Agrippa’s competence as a general forever shaped the geopolitical landscape of the western world.
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa was able to secure these victories and support Octavian through his exceptional competence. His competence as a general can best be displayed in his preparation for battle. Around 37 BC Agrippa combined two lakes in order to establish an isolated Naval training area. This man-made lake allowed Agrippa to build faster and larger ships, establish new tactics including advance grappling hooks, and to allow his naval forces to train in secrecy. When Agrippa concluded the training and his fleet was placed into battle it quickly one victories over Sextus, son of Pompey the Great. Agrippa’s competence as a general was again displayed at the Battle of Actium out where he defeated the larger combine forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra.
A leader cannot effectively lead if they cannot accomplish their assigned tasks. Julius Caesar and Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa were masters of their craft and extremely competent as generals and tacticians. Competence, like Caesar and Agrippa possessed, will allow a leader to make informed decisions and it will gain them the trust and confidence of those around them. As a leader, do you have the competence required of you? Because Leadership Matters!