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Advising Louis XIV - Claremont McKenna Supplement

ailibai 8 / 21  
Dec 29, 2010   #1
Leadership is a constant theme and emphasis at CMC. In fact, one of the ways we describe CMC students is "Leaders in the Making." Choose someone, fictional or nonfictional, historical or contemporary, whom you consider to be a leader. Suppose you are this person's primary advisor. How would you advise this person and why?

Some would argue that being a king automatically makes a person a leader. I would agree, but a true leader must merit the title. The Sun King, Louis XIV of France, inherited the most powerful country in Europe at the time; throughout his reign of 72 years, he maintained this power. Because of his leadership, the 17th century is labeled "the Age of Louis XIV." Louis XIV's primary advisor, Cardinal Mazarin, died in 1661. Now it is my turn to take that place.

It is important to distinguish between the types of leadership required by different situations. The type of leadership required from a 17th century king is much different from that of a modern pre-school teacher. A pre-school teacher should be kind, patient, and forgiving. A king of France needs a different set of traits to be an effective leader. Louis XIV, now 23, has the essential qualities of a king of the era. He is well-spoken, intelligent, and authoritative. Communication is one of the most important parts of leadership. I tell Louis not only to correspond with his advisors, but also with his subjects. He is confident, but perhaps too much so. I advise him to control his vanity, for thinking too highly of himself does not impress his subjects. This is true of any leader; the focus should be on the group, not on oneself. Louis knows his role as king; he commands everything to go through him. He runs his kingdom strictly; he is an absolute monarch in the true sense of the term. This control is necessary in 17th century France.

Louis XIV has a daunting task ahead of him: uniting France under a centralized government. France is divided into an incomprehensible system of individual authorities, each with different laws. I advise Louis to reach out to these rogue powers. Unity strengthens leadership, and the more support he has, the more successful he will be. Louis is a strong king, but he acts alone. Although a leader is one person, their strength comes from their followers. It is important for a leader to realize this, so I advise Louis to accept the help of his ministers. Louis takes his ministers from new aristocratic families instead of high nobility, as is tradition. I see his strategy for keeping the monarchy strong, but I warn him not to alienate the nobility. A good leader should strive to incorporate all that want to be included.

A component of leadership is passing it on, teaching others to lead effectively. Louis XIV is a busy man, but I urge him to take the time to prepare the future kings of France to take his place. He must pave the way for those who will follow him. As history shows, Louis XV was no Sun King. Louis XIV should prepare his heir for the immense responsibility he will take on.

Louis XIV's greatest fault is his tendency to start wars, even the ones he cannot win. He does this to attempt to gain territory and maintain an image of power, but I would advise him to dispense only the resources necessary to keep France safe. A leader needs to know how to handle the resources that are given to him. In Louis XIV's case, he needs to control the country's finances. I urge him to let an expert in the economic field help him, for even the greatest leader cannot act alone all the time. The royal treasury depletes with the cost of war. Near the end of his long and generally successful reign, the French people are upset at the amount of royal debt. I advise Louis to refrain from commissioning works to glorify himself, using the money for causes that directly benefit France.

An unwilling person never makes a good leader. Louis XIV finds his royal duties "grand, noble, and delightful." He is willing to give up aspects of his personal life in order to be a strong ruler. His royal routine leaves precious little time for himself. The best leaders are those who truly care about their obligations and responsibilities. Louis is committed to France. He takes his position as king seriously, and he never doubts his right to it.

This prompt was really difficult for me! Give me the brutal truth.
I did the present tense so it would be more like I was his advisor, like the prompt says.
etaang 4 / 40  
Dec 30, 2010   #2
I understand the need for including historical information in an effort to prove your familiarity with the subject matter, but you seem to be getting [i]too focused[/i] on Louis; remember that this is a college essay, and regardless of how obtuse or irregular a prompt may be, the ultimate goal is to reveal something about the author.
OP ailibai 8 / 21  
Dec 30, 2010   #3
How's this one? I kept the history for background, but I diluted it with stuff about leadership and such.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Jan 19, 2011   #4
Now it is my turn to take that place.

Right here, you lose me, Becca! But it seems awesome. I mean, whatever you mean seems cool, because you suddenly shock me with the assertion that you will take the place. But clarify please! I don't get it.

Okay, you wrote this very well.. and it probably is going to be well received, but the biggest thing I want to suggest is:

If you write so much about leadership, you really kind of have to cite W.H. Prentice "Understanding Leadership." Also, it is also important to cite "transactional leadership," "transformational" leadership, "servant leadership," "charismatic leadership," and/or other concepts in leadership. You can google around and learn about these. This is leadership theory, and if you want to write about it you should cite the established theorists.


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