The List: What History Can Tell You

Margaret MacMillan’s new book, “The War that Ended Peace” is my latest read. It is a thorough analysis of the fifteen years preceding the first world war. MacMillan looks at the build up toward a general war from each of the European perspectives, noting that war could have been avoided, but European leaders shared some fatal assumptions. Two of the great powers of Europe, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire were weakening, and two future growing powers, the US and Japan were becoming threats to European dominance in the world. What is both compelling and frightening is that there are many parallels to our current geopolitical situation. The roots of many contemporary problems lie in decisions made over 100 years ago.

History, geography, and the social sciences bring us perspective. An understanding of the broader world around us. As leaders, we need to have that context to understand our own place in the world, but also to develop a vision for the future of their organization. Organizations do not operate in isolation, but rather in the context of a community, of a country and at the mercy of global forces. Strong leaders have a grasp of social science, the arts and humanities. So I challenge you to read something outside of your wheelhouse, that will broaden your perspective.


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