In the 2007 movie 300, King Leonidas leads his troops into a suicide mission against King Xerxes’ Persian army. Xerxes was thought to be a demigod and was known to experiment with black magic. If that weren’t enough, Xerxes army was massive. All historical accounts of the Battle of Thermopylae estimate King Xerxes army at about 300,000. King Leonidas led an army of 300 elite Spartans. Yes, that’s right. 300 versus 300,000! The conflict took place in 480 BC and the 2007 movie was a brilliant rendition of this epic battle.
The movie glamorized the fighting skills of the elite Spartans. It highlighted the might of the Persian Army. It underscored another David and Goliath classic. But that isn’t what intrigued me. What intrigued me was the leadership of King Leonidas. He didn’t lead from the Senate. He didn’t lead from a tent behind the front lines. He was the first to battle. He was at the front line. He led, by example.
What kind of world would we live in, if our leaders led like Leonidas. When we are struggling financially, they would be the first to take pay cuts. Like us, they wouldn’t take vacation. They would retire on the same measly social security that we all will. They would lead on the front lines and not hide in their tents in Washington. If our leaders led by example, they wouldn’t ask us to do what they won’t do. They would only ask us to do what they would be willing to do themselves. They would lead by example.
Leadership isn’t about how much a leader is liked. It isn’t about what the leader believes. It isn’t about what the leader says. Leadership is about what a leader does. When the team goes into battle, the leader should have spear in hand and be the first to fight. At some level or other, we are all leaders. We all have a few or many who follow our lead. Before you close your office door or retreat to your tent behind the front lines, remember Leonidas. Grab your spear, rally your troops and lead by example!