Soldiers generally win battles; generals get credit for them. – Napoleon Bonaparte

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Napoleon is one of the names that endure in history. The bicentennial of Napoleon Bonaparte’s passing on May 5, 1821, was commemorated in France in 2021. Napoleon was raised to become the Emperor of almost all of Europe and commanded the Napoleonic Wars, which extended as far as Russia and Egypt. Known as a great and influential leader, a military genius, Napoleon was born to a modest Corsican family. [1] There is no doubt why Napoleon is the second most Googled name after Jesus. Napoleon left his mark on many notable locations in Paris, where he is remembered as a compassionate yet ferocious leader and enduring sayings on love, war, and life.

Napoleon Bonaparte Quote

Who was Napoleon Bonaparte? 

Napoleon, also known as Napoleon Bonaparte, was born on the 15th of August 1769 and later became better known by his regnal name, Napoleon I. He was a prominent French military and political figure who gained notoriety during the French Revolution and commanded several successful campaigns during the Revolutionary Wars. [2]

Napoleon Bonaparte’s rise to power began in 1793, when his troops captured Toulon. He hoped to take Egypt and then conquer much of the Middle East. While in Egypt, he discovered the Rosetta Stone, which allowed the decipherment of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. In his roles as First Consul and Emperor of France from 1799 to 1804 and again in 1815, respectively, he served as the de facto head of state of the French Republic. Napoleon is still regarded as one of history’s most renowned and contentious leaders due to his lasting influence on politics and culture. [1]

The Origin of the Quote 

While there is no exact writing stipulating when Napoleon made this statement there have been several events in Napoleon’s journey to victory where he might have uttered this quotation through his reflections on the battles he fought. Shrewd, ambitious, and a skilled military strategist, Napoleon fought his way through the ranks to gain more power, so we may infer that he was aware of how military leaders often take credit for the blood and sweat of their soldiers during wars. This quote was probably said during his service in the military or during his time spent in exile.

Soldiers

Meaning of the Quote

Drawing from his vast military experience, Napoleon knew that as a great leader he must be able to look after the wellbeing and morale of his soldiers. While he took pride in steering the success of his army, he has also certainly acknowledged that his own La Grande Armée was a huge and indispensable part of his success.

Great leaders, like Napoleon, know how and when to recognize and value the contributions of others. Good leaders provide incentives and expand credit to their team members, which, in turn, makes the team more cohesive, trustworthy, and goal-focused, encouraging more effective collaboration and success. [3]

Sometimes, leaders can be conceited about claiming all the glory and praise for the effort put forth, resulting in profound effects on an organization. It’s possible that this quote serves as a caution to other commanders and leaders not to claim all the glory. Leaders are expected to avoid snatching the spotlight exclusively for themselves and to always give credit where it is due.

Conclusion

Napoleon was a brilliant general, a powerful emperor, and a great leader whose contributions to history are still felt today. He is revered as one of history’s greatest military leaders and rulers. He is also well known for his extensive collection of insightful sayings about leadership and war, including, “The only way to lead people is to show them a future: A leader is a dealer in hope”.

References:

[1] @LiveScience. “Who Was Napoleon Bonaparte? | Live Science.” Livescience.Com, 5 May 2021, www.livescience.com/napoleon-bonaparte.html.

[2] Napoleon Bonaparte Birthday. (2001, August 15). Napoleon Bonaparte Birthday – National Today. https://nationaltoday.com/birthday/napoleon-bonaparte/

[3] Give Credit Where It’s Due. (2012, March 28). Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2012/03/give-credit-where-its-due

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