U01-Ethical Leadership from way back

Majority of us have seen the movie 300 and or at least have heard of the Spartans taking on the Persians in a battle to save Greek. If you have no knowledge of this subject then it would be a good idea to do a quick Google search. The short version would go something like this: the Persian empire ran by Xerxes wanted to control Greece and set out to take it over. In order to protect their home land a band of soldiers and civilians from Greece cities gathered to stop the Persians. The battle of Thermopylae ( “The Hot Gates”) took place on a small passage through a mountain that was the only way for the Persians to get to Greece. The Greece soldiers took arms to defend that passage, the Persians found a small trail around in order to flank the defending Greeks. the Leader King Leonidas of Sparta recognizing that they were being surrounded sent all but 300 of his men back home. Some other cities and soldiers stayed to take arms with the Spartans Roughly 1000 Greeks starred into the eyes of 100,000 plus Persians. The Greeks fought to their deaths all of them, even knowing that they were going to die they continued to fight along side the king for their country. This brings me to my point, how can a leader be so good that he or she has a backing so strong and severe that 1000 people would gladly lay down their lives to follow you into certain death?


King Leonidas must have been a fantastic leader, one with great strength, bravery, knowledge, charisma, and all other attributes. Was King Leonidas an ethical leader? I believe so. Ethical leadership described by Northouse 2016 is “ethics concerned with what the leaders do and who the leaders are. It has more to due with the nature of the leaders’ behavior, and their Virtuousness.” Basically this means is the leader acting ethically and morally toward the group and the individuals. A key aspect to look at with King Leonidas was his influence on his followers. King Leonidas changed a lot of peoples behaviors and mindset through his leadership. If the soldiers were afraid they had the option to go back home Leonidas did not hold anyone there to die. This is a huge compliment to his leadership, his followers decided on their own to stay and fight and ultimately die. In this situation Leonidas stood up for what he believed in and wanted to hold the Persians line and save his home. Ethically Leonidas was willing to stand alone as 1 to fight this cause, being a King and a leader of his stature standing there against this enemy showed his followers that he was a leader not a boss. Leonidas did not send his men in to die, he was the first one into battle which in my opinion defiantly influenced his followers to stand in arms with him.



“Goal attainment, leaders determine the direction of an organization.” (Wheeler, 2018) King Leonidas was extremely Goal oriented and had his home to motivate him, Leonidas set the expectations and the direction of the group, the ones who decided to stand with Leonidas were going to stand their ground and fight with everything they have till the end in order to save their homes, child, wife’s etc…. The Goal that he was trying to attain was to turn the Persians around and keep them away from his home this was the initial goal. If you looked deeper into the story his main goal was to get the backing of all of Greece in order to form a much stronger army that would defeat this enemy. Because Leonidas sacrificed his life for the Greek’s well being, it did in fact get the respect and backing from Greece and ultimately getting them to band as one to defeat the Persians before they could take over the nation.


King Leonidas is a great example of an ethical leader that inspires others to do greatness against all odds. this story of courage and bravery is used today to teach lessons to people in sports, work, all types of environments.                                  



Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice (Seventh ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE Publications

Wheeler,  (2018). PSY 533.Unit 01, Lesson 01. Retrieved from      https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1896721/pages/l01-ethical-leadership?module_item_id=23791887

One Comment

  1. Tara Schlomka February 11, 2018 at 1:56 PM #


    Cognition “refers to thoughts and related abilities such as intelligence and attention” (PSY 533, 2018). Cognition arousal theory of emotions, “states that certain emotions such as happiness and fear need both cognition and arousal (i.e. energy to motivate) to occur” (PSY 533, 2018). In the scenario you outlined, I wonder if cognition arousal theory applies. The cognition is the intelligence that states it is necessary to go to war. But what is motivating the leader to take on the task with such passion to motivate an army to follow to their presumed deaths? When faced with a threat for survival, it’s fight or flight (Cannon, 1932). Some stayed to fight. Is it the knowledge that their lives are lost anyway and summons up the fight in them? How and when does fear turn to inspiration to follow another? In conclusion, I wonder, is the command of an ethical leader enough to inspire servitude or what other elements play factor?


    Cannon, Walter (1932). Wisdom of the Body. United States: W.W. Norton & Company.
    PSY 533. (2018). L04 Cognitive and Developmental Approaches to Ethical Leadership. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1896721/modules

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar