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Channel Caesar to outflank enemies

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

During the Alexandrian War, Julius Caesar needed to sail the Roman fleet through a narrow sea channel that allowed only a few ships to pass at a time. The enemy, a larger Alexandrian fleet, was on the other side waiting.

Caesar made a decisive move, sending four ships through. But the four ships he sent through were captained by Euphranor, one of Caesar’s most skilled captains. Euphranor intentionally brought his ships under attack, during which time he used his great skill to turn the ships so they would face every attacking Alexandrian ship directly.

The long battle that resulted allowed the rest of the Roman ships to pass through the narrows and win the battle decisively, without losing a single ship.

Leadership lesson: When you face a stronger competitor, you don’t always need to attack on all fronts. Let your strongest player preoccupy your foe, while you marshal the rest of your troops.

—Adapted from The Alexandrian, African and Spanish Wars, Julius Caesar, trans. A. G. Way, Harvard University Press.

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