17 May 2022

Spartan Leaders! Unite!

I've been reading a lot of history lately while polishing up my new book on executive performance called Spartan CEO. It'll be out in March.

I’ve been reading a lot of history lately while polishing up my new book on executive performance called Spartan CEO. It’ll be out in March.

What I’ve found is that the most effective strategy in business is still the same one that humans have honed over 300,000 years of evolution: find other humans that you trust and work together. The trust strategy is predominantly governed by the neurochemical oxytocin. It’s behind hiring decisions, contracts, and humans who choose to work into the wee hours of the morning, when no one is looking, to finish a proposal on behalf of their economic community so that they can win the next battle for the approval of the market. Oxytocin is the most valuable currency on the planet. Leonidas couldn’t have known about oxytocin, but he definitely know how to connect with people.

Leonidas, the king of Sparta, is most famous for his heroic defense of the Pass of Thermopylae against the invading King Xerxes in 480 BCE. The movies tell the story of a fearless warrior king leading his army of 300 Spartans to meet a Persian army of between 70,000 and 300,000 warriors. What doesn’t often make the final cut of the story is the fact that in addition to the 300 Spartans that Leonidas brought with him, he had an extra 6,000+ fighters from supporting armies. He was an accomplished diplomat as well.

Okay, 7,000-ish fighters versus a quarter-million Persians is still a losing battle, and, yes, Leonidas was courageous (if not a bit foolhardy) to march his tiny army into such an off-balanced fight. The point is he didn’t go alone, and he didn’t only take his own team with him. He enlisted the help of other teams.

After Leonidas was betrayed by Ephialtes and the Persian army eliminated the tactical advantage at the Pass of Thermopylae, Leonidas inspired his Spartans to continue fighting. The majority of the Greek army retreated, but the Spartans stayed to inflict as much damage on the Persians as possible before their inevitable defeat. Even then, Leonidas was not alone. He had his 300 best with him and about 1,100 more Boeotians besides that. In the end, facing impossible odds, Leonidas knew how to connect with people and inspire commitment. He knew how to create oxytocin.
If you want to know more about oxytocin, eye contact, and team building in business, check out my book, Spartan CEO. You can register your interest on my website (link in bio) and I’ll let you know when it comes out.

Article by: Dr. Corrie Block
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