Comparing Leadership Styles: Alexander The Great, Billy Graham, Ronald Reagan, Adolf Hitler

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There are different types of leaders in the world who have different types of leadership styles. Not every leader is going to have the same leadership style because their areas of leadership requires the right approach for the situation. Effective leadership is based upon ideas but won’t happen unless those ideas can be communicated to others in a way that engages them enough to act as the leader wants them to act (Ward, 2019). Therefore, it is crucial for leaders to have the correct leadership style that will be effective for their followers. Kurt Lewin was a psychologist who argues that there are three major styles of leadership: autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire. Autocratic leaders can make decisions quickly and do so without consulting their team members. “Democratic leaders make the final decisions, but they include team members in the decision-making process” (Mind, n.d.). Lastly, laissez-faire leaders provide support with resources if needed but give their teams a lot of freedom in how they complete their work and set deadlines. Leaders like Alexander the Great, Billy Graham, Ronal Reagan, and Adolf Hitler were leaders who represented areas of military, religion and politics. These leaders each had their own leadership style specific to the situations they encountered during their times of leadership.

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great is known as one of the most successful military leaders in history. He ascended to the throne at only twenty years old after the assassination of King Philip. Alexander won the fight against the Persian army with his tactical brilliance despite having less soldiers. “His conquests shaped not just eastern and western culture but also the history of the world” (Alexander, 2019). Alexander is an autocratic leader because he makes decisions without consulting his team. “A good leader understands the strengths and weaknesses of his team, and he puts them in positions where they are more likely to succeed” (Alexander, 2019). What he did well was making sure each follower was placed in a position where they would be successful. They knew how to handle their positions without any issues to ensure they would win any battle. Unfortunately, this did not help his empire when Alexander passed away because there was no one who had the personality or leadership to rule such an enormous empire. Therefore, Alexander built, was destroyed when the Civil War broke out. This was a poor leadership trait of Alexander because he did not prepare his followers for the uncertainty, or the ability to grow their own leadership skills. Alexander was effective as a leader because he knew how to leverage his teams’ strengths by understanding their strengths and weaknesses. He was an organized and brilliant with his tactical training which put a lot of trust in his followers. This allowed for his troops to not panic while in battle because they were well trained on holding their positions. Alexander the Great did display versatility, flexibility, self-awareness, empowerment, coaching and motivation. “From a military standpoint, such efforts reduced his risk, increased his flexibility, and enabled him to operate with speed and decisiveness with his highly trained and exceptionally loyal army” (Scherrer, 2014). Alexander utilized face-to-face communication with his stakeholders. He also reorganization of the unit, providing each individual unit with its own commander, allowing for better communication. Another way to improve communication was for Alexander to be more open to his troops/followers and listening to their thoughts or concerns with certain battles. This could have prevented his troops from getting injured in battles that did not need to happen.

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Billy Graham

Billy Graham is a religious leader who was successful as an evangelist. Billy Graham preached Christianity to live audiences of nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories (Michael, 2016). His leadership style is transformational leadership. Transformational leaders have integrity, high emotional intelligence, and they motivate people with a shared vision of the future by communicating well (Mind, n.d.). Billy Graham used media to spread the gospel of Christ for people all around the world. He wanted people to gain knowledge about Christ so that they would gain the knowledge to learn about what their lives could be like when committing yourself to him. What Billy Graham did well was making sure that everyone around the world had a chance to learn about the gospel. He preached many lessons for people that helped for them to change themselves into a better leader. “Billy Graham would never suggest he led a flawless life, but he lived such a public life that we were privileged to see how a godly man maintained a life of character above reproach till his last breath at 99 years of age” (Relland, 2018). This helped followers to change the way they live their lives and push themselves to be better people. What he did poorly was that he was not open to change. He was a true evangelical Christian with stern beliefs. All these characteristics helped for him to be an effective leader because he preached the true gospel messages to his followers which lead to millions of people being inspired to change their lives and do better. Billy Graham displayed coaching and motivation in his leadership skills. He was self-aware of the type of leader he was, and what he followed/preached which is why he was not flexible with changing his beliefs or messages to those who disagreed with him. He had great speaking skills to share his messages on a huge platform. These skills helped him as a leader because he was able to preach to so many people with his great communication skills, and that he was committed and passionate about spreading the word of god. His communication style was assertive, where he expressed himself but also considered the needs of others. He aimed for both sides to win in a situation, balancing one’s rights with the rights of others.

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan was an American political leader, who was the 40th president of the United States serving two terms. Reagan’s leadership style was Transformational leadership because he had a vision of where the country needed to go. When Reagan came into office he inherited a terrible economy that needed help. When managing as governor of California, he brought a balanced budget to one of the largest economies. “He applied the same concepts and extensive study to developing his vision for resolving the economic challenges facing America” (Meese, 2011). What Reagan did well was changing the lives of American’s. He implemented policies to reduce the federal governments reach into the daily lives and pocketbooks of American’s, such as cutting taxes. His economic policy resulted in a considerable decrease in unemployment and inflation (Anirudh, 2017). He made the American Citizens believe in hope again because they were starting to see changes in the economy that were benefiting them. He gave the citizens hope! Reagan also had a Laissez-faire leadership style where he would let his administration have a lot of freedom in their work. This was poor of Reagan because it manifested into an ability to control his administration from potentially illegal activities, e.g. the “Iran-Contra” scandal (Was, n.d.). The leader was effective because he loved America and he wanted everyone in the world to enjoy being an American. He was an amazing communication which helped to express his vision, goals, and missions. “Since the time Reagan occupied the Oval Office, no one in American politics has been able to equal his oratorical ability and assume the mantle of The Great Communicator, as he was dubbed by the media” (Rosebush, 2016). He was open to listening to his administration to help with changing the economy, which helped for him to be flexible and also pushed for him to motivate his team to help to with changing the U.S.. Reagan was an assertive communication because he shared what they want, desire and invasion but are open to communicating about new ideas as well. He had leadership and personal skills of communication, commitment, accountability, honesty and integrity. Reagan was constantly communicating with his stakeholders and was always known as one of the best communicators.

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was the leader of Germany’s Nazi Party, and it known to be a failed military leader in history. “Hitler capitalized on economic woes, popular discontent and political infighting to take absolute power in Germany beginning in 1933” (History, 2019). Hitler was an autocratic leader who did not care about anyone’s input, and would make all of the decisions for himself. He failed his country by leading with sick and twisted rules that were unmoral. He also failed as a military leader because he accepted a war without any clear conception of how to win it. ‘He never balanced ends and means at the national level, and no matter how many battles he won, there always seemed to be another one to fight’ (Megaree, 2011). What Hitler did well was communicating because he was able to make his German citizens believe that what he was doing was right, moral and for their protection. He was effective because he used aggressive communication to scare his soldiers and other citizens into listening to everything he told them. He was ineffective because he did not know how to rule as a military leader which led him into battles that he was never able to win. This allowed for U.S. troops to end World War II and turn against Germany. He was not a leader that displayed veritility, flexibility, or other traits that leaders should have. He used Assertive communication to scare his people into getting what he wanted, which allowed for him to be successful as a leader in Germany. He did share traits of good communication skills, and dedication. He should have had for empathy for what he was doing because he could have realized that he was leading his country totally wrong. His communication style did not work because it made people turn against him in the long run. His strategies backfired because it started a war against him to free all the people that he intended on killing. When he began to turn against the Jews is when he started his downfall of the “failure” leader. He was starting a war for something that should have never been started.


Each of these leaders have different leadership styles and communication skills but many share the same skills as a leader. Adolf Hitler and Alexander the Great were both Military leaders both with the ability to communicate to their troops effectively. Alexander differs from Hitler though because he had tactical brilliance whereas Hitler was showed no glimpse of hope when it came to fighting in battles. Alexander the Great went down in history as one of the great military leaders, whereas Hitler went down as one of the worst. Ronald Reagan and Billy Graham both shared a lot of the same leadership skills because they were both known for their communication skills. Billy Graham was able to touch the lives of so many, and as did Reagan. Graham was able to help those with his spiritual messages, whereas Regan would share how he was going to change the economy in the United States. Different leadership styles do affect leadership in different ways. When Leaders are mainly autocratic and neglect their team, it can result in them missing out on great ideas. Transformational Leadership is a great leadership style because leaders are trying to make their followers better and have a better future. The best way to avoid being a “failure” leader is to not have an aggressive communication skill, be open to communicating, and make sure that you understand what you are doing before you do it. I believe that the best leader was Ronald Reagan because he was able to communicate his passion with so many Americans which helped for them to build trust. He then committed to his word, and was effective with his promises which helped to make the economy better for the U.S. citizens. Throughout his whole presidency, he made showed people that he was passionate about what he was doing, and he expressed it by being a good communication, committed, and honest.


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