Wisdom is ageless; such is the premise of the Penguin Books Great Ideas series. How to Achieve True Greatness does not fail in this measure, proving that the debate of the ideal virtues of a Renaissance courtier bears relevance to the debate on the great leaders of today.
On the slopes of the Apennines near the center of Italy, in the Court of Urbino, the custom of guests of the Duke, upon early retirement due to his infirmity, is to join the Duchess in games of debate. The focus of this novella is one such debate, the subject of which is the determination of what characteristics and qualities make up a perfect courtier.
Each guest takes turns to outline and debate the qualities they feel central to success; many of which are key qualities in the leaders of today. Also central to the debate of great leaders of our time is the realization, as with the debate of courtiers that opinions will vary. “Some will prefer reticence; others an active and restless man; others one who always acts with calmness and deliberation…”
How to Achieve True Greatness focuses not only on the key elements of leadership, but perhaps more importantly, that while one virtue or characteristic may be of central importance to one individual, it may be determined to be irrelevant or contrary to another. Such continues the debate in modern times of what makes the leaders of today successful.