Historians refer to Cyrus as “the most amiable of conquerors,” and the first emperor to found his empire on generosity instead of violence and tyranny. At one point he controlled one of the greatest Empires ever seen – modern day Iran.

Although he was known to be a great conqueror, Cyrus the Great is best remembered for his unprecedented tolerance and magnanimous attitude towards those he defeated.

The Hellenes, whom he conquered regarded him as “Law-giver” and the Jews as “the anointed of the Lord.”

“Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd
    and will accomplish all that I please;
he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,”
    and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’ Isaiah 44:28A

4th century BC historian,  Xenophen, was an eye witness who recorded the exploits of Cyrus. Forbes magazine says Xenophen’s writing “is a veritable classic in the art of leadership, execution, and responsibility.”

8 Leadership Lessons From Cyrus The Great:

1. Be Generous

“Success always calls for greater generosity–though most people, lost in the darkness of their own egos, treat it as an occasion for greater greed. Collecting booty is not an end itself, but only a means for building an empire. Riches would be of little use to us now–except as a means of winning new friends.”

2. Be a Force for Good

“Whenever you can, act as a liberator. Freedom, dignity, wealth–these three together constitute the greatest happiness of humanity. If you bequeath all three to your people, their love for you will never die.”

3. Be in Control

After punishing some renegade commanders Cyrus said: “Here again, I would demonstrate the truth that, in my army, discipline always brings rewards.”

4. Be Kind

“When I became rich, I realized that no kindness between man and man comes more naturally than sharing food and drink, especially food and drink of the ambrosial excellence that I could now provide. Accordingly, I arranged that my table be spread everyday for many invitees, all of whom would dine on the same excellent food as myself. After my guests and I were finished, I would send out any extra food to my absent friends, in token of my esteem.”

5. Be Brief

“Brevity is the soul of command. Too much talking suggests desperation on the part of the leader. Speak shortly, decisively and to the point–and couch your desires in such natural logic that no one can raise objections. Then move on.”

6. Be Self-Reliant

“Never be slow in replenishing your supplies. You’ll always be on better terms with your allies if you can secure your own provisions…Give them all they need and your troops will follow you to the end of the earth.”

7. Be Loyal

When asked how he planned to dress for a celebration Cyrus responded: “If I can only do well by my friends, I’ll look glorious enough in whatever clothes I wear.”

8. Be an Example

“In my experience, men who respond to good fortune with modesty and kindness are harder to find than those who face adversity with courage.”

APPLICATION: Which lesson stood out to you? Please leave a comment below.


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