Why Should Officers be Clever 101

The Naval Academy is saturated with officers who are willing to share their leadership knowledge. In my experience, the truth can be lost within some lengthy sea stories, leaving the lesson never full internalized. Luckily, some stories stick, and the lessons resonate with midshipmen. I remember a distinct lesson in class when we learned about Alexander the Great’s rule that made me reflect on my leadership style; Alexander’s ability to be the most clever person in the room paid dividends when it came to expanding the empire under his rule. Specifically, the moment when he held a funeral for his enemy made me reflect on my leadership style and how I should try to integrate being clever in my decisions. Alexander the Great’s cleverness is a takeaway I plan to carry into the fleet when I become an officer. 

            Alexander exemplified the kind of critical thinking we are always taught to have as an officer when he held a funeral for his enemy Darius. In Demand, the story of what Alexander the Great did when he discovered Darius was killed, stating, “On discovering the body of Darius, Alexander treated it with all the respect due to royalty, sending it back to Persepolis for a royal funeral and burial. He could now truly present himself as the king of all Asia” (321). Alexander foresaw the problem that his subject would not see him as a legitimate leader if he killed Darius. His death became an opportunity for Alexander to claim legitimacy amongst the Persians, and he capitalized on the opportunity by holding an elaborate funeral worthy of royalty. Before his kingdom became too massive for any one man to command, Alexander was able to balance everyone’s view of his claim to the throne through clever maneuvers like extensively celebrating and avenging his enemy’s death.

            I would rather avoid being a deceptive officer like Alexander, however, his cleverness is something I admire. It takes creativity to plan a funeral for your enemy, and it is incredibly likely Alexander did not feel remorse for his actions. However, he decided to put his feelings aside in order to carry out the mission of expanding his territory. It is not an intuitive decision, and I believe there will be moments like that in the fleet. I have been told sailors will rely on me when it comes to some of their problems. I knew creativity was an important quality within the fleet, but we have been told many qualities are significant to the fleet. Seeing cleverness utilized by a great leader like Alexander the Great reinforces bringing that trait into the fleet.

            Alexander used cleverness to his advantage at the expensive of his integrity, and I want to bring that quality to the fleet while maintaining my integrity. My goal is to be a source of comfort and resourcefulness for my sailors, which comes as a result of valuing ingenuity. Cleverness on a grand scale has resulted in expansion in empires like Alexander’s, whereas its value can transcend into smaller settings like being resourceful for sailors and missions throughout the Navy.

Word Count: 516

Krystyna Bartocci

One thought on “Why Should Officers be Clever 101

  1. It is interesting to note that Alexander the Great used cleverness to his advantage but it came at a cost. Although he held a funeral for Darius, he was only doing it to advance himself; he did not care about Darius himself. To the public, it seemed as if Alexander cared but in reality, he wanted to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the Persians. Krystyna mentioned that “Alexander used cleverness to his advantage at the expense of his integrity”. He needed to gain the respect of the Persians in order to expand his territory, but was it worth sacrificing his integrity. One lesson that can be taken away from Alexander the Great is to never compromise integrity. In the fleet, Sailors and Marines rely and trust the officers appointed over them. If an officer sacrifices his or her integrity, it will be hard for them to ever gain it back. As Alexander has taught, it is important to use cleverness, but not at the expense of integrity.

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