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Napoleon’s defeat before Waterloo

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo overshadows what is perhaps his biggest leadership gaffe.

A few years earlier, Napoleon had invaded Russia and actually occupied Moscow. But he had no plans for supporting his troops after they’d taken the city. Worse yet, he had no idea what his troops were supposed to do after seizing the Russian seat of government.

The final blow: Napoleon himself left Moscow for Paris, responding to rumors of a plot to overthrow him.

Exhausted, starving and beyond reach of Napoleon’s rallying cries, the remnants of the victorious Grande Armée began a trek back homeward with winter setting in. More than 100,000 of the men froze to death on the way home.

Lesson: Victory is glorious, but ultimate victory usually comes to people who can attain a succession of strategic—often modest—goals that are well understood.

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