David A. Majd-Faridi
Alexander the Great’s campaigns and techniques used to achieve his accomplishments throughout his reign were only effective because of the state of the empire given to him by Philip II. When compared to Philip II, Alexander’s tactics and methods can be seen as short-sighted, vain, and seemingly random. In contrast, Philip II had each choice for a specific and deliberate purpose that ultimately benefited Athens and the better part of Greece greatly. We can see this pattern of a strong predecessor laying the ground work for someone else in modern examples as well. One specific example is the current CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, who after the death of Steve Jobs now heads one of the biggest technological companies in the country. Just like Alexander had amazing opportunities at his disposal, so does Tim Cook.
Starting with Philip’s ingenuity and focused mind, we can see the developments that were implemented under his leadership gave Alexander the tools he needed to craft his empire. Regarding the military, Philip II revolutionized the battlefield. Replacing the old and ineffective shoving matches that were the hoplite phalanxes hand to hand combat to the use of long range weapons and mobility became key. Giving the foot soldiers the sarissae (14-16 foot long spears) so that they can engage from farther away, utilizing a powerful cavalry system (Hetairoi) to gain a mobility advantage, and the creation of the torsion catapults made the armies of Greece an unstoppable force for Alexander to utilize.
However Philip did not just hand Alexander a strong military, because that alone would not have been enough for his total domination. Philip also was able to present Alexander Macedonia. Tamed, cultured, and civilized, Philip was able to effectively bring extremely positive results from these people in almost every way.
“He, [Philip II], gave the Macedonians cloaks to wear instead of sheepskins, brought them down from the mountains to the plains, and made them a match in war for the neighboring barbarians. He made his subjects city dwellers and civilized them with good laws and customs. He annexed much of Thrace to Macedonia, seized the most favorable coastal towns, opened up the country to commerce, and enabled the Macedonians to exploit your mines undisturbed” (Xenophon Anabasis, 7.9).
These actions by Philip are more than just a random assortment of actions based on a whim, like Alexander’s movements and decisions, but instead were choices with powerful lasting impacts that would affect the empire far after his end of leadership.
Similarly, Tim Cook has inherited a powerful empire in his own way. An empire that also dwarfs its competitors and spans over vast parts of the world. Just like Philip II, Steve Jobs first had to go and make the powerful and long sighted decisions that ultimately created Apple to what it is today, and most of those decisions are still causing effect to this day.
Tim Cook hopefully has been educated on Alexander the Great’s rise and fall from power, because some potential parallels are present here looking forward. For example, if Tim Cook started to make ambitious and aggressive changes to absorb other companies, or outsource competitors, but fails to keep the long picture in mind, the company may lose its longevity.
In conclusion, it is clear to see that though Alexander may have done some great things, his success directly comes from the insightful and effective leadership executed by Philip II. Furthermore, we can see the importance that good insight and careful decision making made by leadership can change the entire trajectory of a company or organization as a whole. As Midshipmen, we must recognize someday we may be the next Alexander or Tim Cook as we rise into command of units in our careers. One day it may be our time to not only inherit greatness and enjoy its benefits, but also find our own ways to keep progressing forward.
Word Count 580 (plus 77 with the quote)