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Elizabeth I, CEO: Strategic Lessons from the Leader Who Built an Empire Hardcover – August 1, 2000

3.9 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Recently, we have seen England's venerable Queen Elizabeth I portrayed in popular movies as both a wise supporting character and powerful leading lady. Now, thanks to historian and author Alan Axelrod, we can not only see the 16th-century monarch as a single woman who turned the fortunes of an entire nation around--we can apply many of the traits and practices of Good Queen Bess to our own business lives. "You can learn that being a leader is being a leader, whether your enterprise is a Renaissance kingdom, a small business, a major corporation, a corporate department, or a three-person work group with a job to do," Axelrod writes in Elizabeth I, CEO. Like other authors who relate the conduct and writings of a historical figure to situations in the modern world (including himself in Patton on Leadership), Axelrod uses Elizabeth's behavior and words to frame a blueprint for corporate survival, personal image building, staff development, control, and--ultimately--success. The author draws 136 pointers from Elzabeth's life, each amplified with lively, germane anecdotes. Among them: "Control the Message, not the Messenger," "No Leader Is a Solo Act," and "Forgive, but Don't Forget." --Howard Rothman

From Publishers Weekly

Who could possibly offer better leadership lessons than one of the most powerful women in history? Axelrod (Patton on Leadership, etc.) details more than 100 leadership principles based on Queen Elizabeth's style of statesmanship. Having assumed the throne during a time of economic and religious turmoil, she helped rebuild England and strengthen its position in the world during her four decades as queen. Some of the lessons drawn from her reign are simplistic and obvious, such as "Knowledge Really Is Power," based on the queen's voracious appetite for reading and her study of Greek and Latin. "Keep a Clear Head and an Even Keel" derives from the monarch's ability to hold her temper; during difficult negotiations, she would occasionally leave the room to walk outside. Other lessons deserve more attention from today's executives, such as "Make a Spectacle of Yourself": Axelrod avers that a leader must motivate employees with more than the bottom line, and that theatrical gestures can be an effective source of inspiration. In a similar vein, Axelrod exhorts, "Be a Great Communicator": "An effective leader thinks about what he says, carefully crafting each utterance of any significance." While history fans will enjoy the brief portraits of Queen Elizabeth's governing style in various circumstances, those seeking penetrating management insights may be disappointed that not every lesson applies equally to today's corporate leaders. $200,000 ad/promo; 3-city tour; 20-city radio satellite tour.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall Press; 1st edition (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735201897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735201897
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,572,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Those who do not learn their history are doomed to repeat it, but those who learn it badly are doomed to write books about it.
Elizabeth I is an amazing figure on the historical stage. She took a confused country and made a great nation out of it. Her guidance and tolerance in religious matters made her one of the greatest monarchs of all times. She was a woman on the throne at a time when most women could not hope to have their opinions taken seriously. In times of crisis she rallied her armies to defend the nation she ruled and despite much religious strife she earned the loyalty of both her protestant and catholic subjects.
Alan Axelrod makes an attempt to carry forward her leadership secrets into wisdom we can all use today. Sadly, he seems to have written the book first and then filled in the blanks about the history. Each chapter Axelrod gives a quick overview of the topic to be covered and then gives the "leadership secret" followed by an anecdote to illustrate the point.
A fictitious example would be :
" 108 Eat Your Veggies"
"As Queen of England, Elizabeth often received letters from Mary Queen of Scots, saying how much she hated broccoli. In the end Elizabeth had Mary's head chopped off and the letters stopped."
Sounds good? Well in practice it falls flat. First problem was that there seems to not be enough secrets to go around so they repeat. Topics like `loyalty', `gratitude', `remember others', and 'be thankful' are all very much the same as Axelrod presents them and don't bear the amount of repetition that he gives them. Each time there is another anecdote but their aim is all the same.
Another sticking point I, of course, the fact that some of the history is inconvenient and so has to be worked around.
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Format: Hardcover
I read Alan Axelrod's "Patton on Leadership" last year and found the book to be a witty, informative primer on management, so I naturally looked forward to this, the second installment in his opus. I couldn't have been more disappointed. This book seems to have been thrown together in such haste that it hardly seems to constitute more than the margin notes from "Patton." The prose is tedious and labored, and the information contained within it rather trite. I'm not an expert on English history of this period and at the very least, I figured I'd learn something on this front, but even as history the book fails. Its presentation is bland, confusing, and often seems rather sugar-coated. Most irritating to me of all, however, is that the book's title is somewhat misleading. The subtitle refers to "the leader who built an empire" but all throughout the book, Axelrod coyly dances around this issue without lucidly identifying what he's talking about. He refers to the enormous empire stretching from North America to India upon which "the sun never set," but this was in the 1800s; Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, and I was curious to know what part of the empire had been initiated at that point. Yet all throughout the book, all I got was confusion and frustration on this issue. I later dusted off my old history textbook from sophomore year and found out why: The Jamestown Settlement in 1607 (along with the Pilgrims about a decade later) was the first overseas colony the British even started, and the "empire-building" phase apparently didn't begin until Cromwell's Commonwealth period, about half a century later.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
"Elizabeth I CEO" started out as a promising idea but it has the feel of a labour without a foundation. The business tips and examples seem perfunctory and forced. The problem here is that the author has written a business self-help book based on a particular historical figure and events, yet the history is fundamentally inaccurate. He lionises his subject but in doing so, lacks even-handedness and does not give the book enough analytical rigour, and so ironically fails to consider the often difficult and messy challenges that any real business must face.
The author spends a lot of time discussing the success of the English defence against the Spanish Armada for example, but he seems to overlook the fact that the English fought Spain for over a decade in its aftermath, with Spain on the winning side far more than her opponent. The English suffered from inadequate funding, shortages of supplies, confused strategy, tactical wavering, and the improved soldiering of their enemies, winning some battles but coming up short most of the time. Like any business struggling with a deficiency of liquid assets, so did Elizabethan England battle repetitive deficiencies in the war chest, a challenge which was met at times with clever solutions and at other times with inadequate response and questionable strategies that aggravated the economic damage. The country also became involved in a draining war with Ireland that pushed her nearly to bankruptcy. Contrary to what the author appears to believe, England was not rich and riding high by the end of the reign, but ridden with debt and exhausted from war. And "The Leader Who Built an Empire"? I'm afraid not.
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