Leonidas - Leadership Skills

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Leonidas was the king of Sparta between 488BC and 480BC. The movie “300” narrates the story of Leonidas leading 300 Spartan “body guards” and fighting to death against the massive Persian army led by “God King” Xerxes in the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. Prior to the start of the war, Leonidas knew that his army was hugely outnumbered and knew with certainty that his move against the Persians was a suicide mission. His intention was to delay the fast approaching Persian army from reaching the heart of Sparta by using a narrow mountain pass in Thermopylae to his advantage. The movie concludes with the brutal killing of Leonidas and his men by the massive Persian arrow barrage. Even though the battle was won by the Persians, the sacrifice and resistance of the 300 Spartans against the one million Persians served as a moral victory for Greeks and helped the different Greek clans to unite against the invading Persians. Leonidas went through a rigorous military training starting at the age of 7 through the age of 30. He was taught to endure hunger, pain, cold, fear, natural calamities and wilderness dangers. He was trained never to retreat and never to surrender. The training also taught him to steal and to utilize bare minimal resources to survive in adverse conditions. By the end of the training period, his biggest value in life was to consider service to Sparta and death in battlefield for Sparta as the greatest glory of life. His interests and motives were directed towards upholding the Spartan cultural values of respect, honor, freedom and justice. When the Persian emissary threatened the Spartan king, with heads of conquered kings, tales of slavery, King Xerxes’s military power, and demanded a token of submission, Leonidas immediately kills him to convey the strong consistent message about the fate of people who tries to jeopardize Spartan values to the conspirators and to his followers. By Spartan law, Leonidas was forced to consult the “Euphors”, old Spartan priests, before going on war with the Persians. Even though Leonidas explained the tactical battle strategy, the greedy corrupt priests denied Leonidas’s request to wage war against the Persians. Leonidas was in an ethical dilemma between breaking the Spartan law that he had sworn to protect and the fate of Spartans if he does not prevent the advancing Persians. His analytic, practical and creative intelligence made him decide to meet the Persian army with 300 of his best soldiers at a narrow mountain corridor called hot gates without violating Spartan law. The high intelligence level of Leonidas is evident when he teaches his son to first fight with head and then fight with his heart. Leonidas delegated the activity of choosing the 300 “body guard” soldiers to his army captain Artemis. Artemis does an exceptional job of selecting the best Spartan soldiers whose personal values were aligned with that of Leonidas’s. The fact that Leonidas knew the mind set of his followers is evident when he instructed Artemis to choose the soldiers who had born sons to carry on their names. Leonidas’s charisma is exemplified when the individual soldiers vowed to die for their common values along with the king and when Artemis drafted his youngest son, Astinos, saying that he has other sons to replace him. During their march to the battle field, Leonidas rallies other Greek army men to join the battle with his visioning and rhetorical skills. Leonidas and his men tactically planned to funnel the Persian army through the narrow corridor between the mountains and the seas. Even though the odds of winning the battle were very low, Leonidas trusted his 300 skilled soldiers to outflank the Persian army in the narrow corridor using the phalanx formation. Phalanx is a military formation in which soldiers heavily armed with spears and shields formed an impenetrable unit protecting the man on his left with the shield. Periodically Leonidas was motivating and encouraging the soldiers with...
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