[August 5, 2017] The ability to get into the mind of great leaders – thus to understand both their decision-making and their motivations – is the perfect way toward the wisdom of leadership. The problem, of course, is doing this is impossible but we can discover hints about them.1 Today, I’ll explore Egyptian King Narmar, a man we can learn from … he is known as the “unifier of Egypt.”
Anyone achieving something so great as to be a unifier of a large empire will display strong traits that can teach us something about the practical side of leadership. From what Egyptologists tell us, Narmar’s reign in ancient Egypt began sometime around 3,100 BC (over 5 millennia ago).
What were some of the indicators that he was such a great man? Here are a few historical hints (nothing is for certain that far back) that steer us into believing he practiced leadership traits that we find today in much more modern times, regardless of where it’s practiced:
- He unified Egypt and was the first king of the First Dynasty. Unification, Egyptologists suggest, came about primarily through social and economic development and perhaps less through military conquest as many would think.
- Scholars believe his translated name includes “angry, fighting, fierceful, painful, furious, bad, evil, biting, menacing” or “stinging catfish.” If true, such a name is designed to strike fear into the enemy and embolden his own Egyptian citizens.
- There was an emphasis on economic ties, as indicated by records from that time, rather than military subjugation in Lower Egypt that one might believe during a unification of nations.
- He made foreign expeditions and won renown in Canaan; evidence suggesting the presence of military fortifications and Egyptian colonies. This demonstrates his capacity to subdue an enemy and bring them into the fold of Egyptian culture.
- Neithhotep was his wife, from Lower Egypt, the marriage suggesting Narmar’s was consolidating his rule. She is the earliest woman in the history of the world whose name is known today.
- His tomb, unlike those of his predecessors and those after him, did not include space for humans which were to accompany him into the afterlife. This shows, possibly, a magnanimous trait and one that certainly helped him in his long reign.
- There are inscriptions which commemorate his visits to wide parts of the dynasty. Being personally seen by citizens from far away corners of the dynasty provides evidence of the desire to project power, the superiority of Egyptian culture, and to be known to all citizens.
Those interested in the study of leadership would do well to consider the records of King Narmar; ruler of a united Egypt. As we can see from the seven indicators above, he practiced leadership very much like we do today.
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- And the further back in time we go, the less likely we are capable of doing so.