One of the most inspiring stories of Greek history is the battle of Thermopylae (480BC) during which 300 Spartans held off an army of 100,000+ Persians for seven days before they were betrayed and all killed. Their leader was King Leonidas—he fought on the front line and perished with them. They were fighting for their country and their sacrifice saved Greece.
A story most every American is familiar with is the battle of the Alamo in which 200± “Texians” held off 2000 or so Mexican soldiers for almost two weeks before being overwhelmed and all killed. They bought time for Sam Houston to raise an army that—about six weeks later—defeated the Mexican army at San Jacinto and won independence for Texas. Jim Bowie and William Travis were the commanders at the Alamo though Hollywood likes to elevate Davy Crockett played by Fess Parker, John Wayne, Billy Bob Thornton, etc., depending on which vintage you watch.
A lesser known story of a small group following a leader into battle against overwhelming odds is found in the 14th chapter of Genesis. Four kings (all with long, hard-to-pronounce names) made war against Sodom and Gomorrah and “carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions” (Genesis 14:12 NIV). Abram (better known as Abraham) “called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit (Genesis 14:14 NIV). You can read the full account for yourself, but the outcome was that the 318 men led by Abram defeated the four armies led by kings and rescued Lot and all his possessions.
Three stories of men who followed their leaders into battle against overwhelming odds: in two everyone was killed, in the third they were victorious. In all three, they had to choose to follow the leader.
The leadership question is: what about Leonidas, Bowie, Travis, Crockett, and Abram inspired their men to follow them to almost certain death? Now, I could give you my version of the answer(s), but why don’t you give me yours by answering the following question: what kind of leader would I follow into battle against overwhelming odds? The battle doesn’t have to be a war. It could be any aspect of life, but the defining issue is “in all likelihood we are going to lose badly, but I am going to follow the leader anyway.” That is the kind of leader I want to be; how about you?
Let me hear from you. I’ll summarize your comments in a later post.
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© Copyright 2014 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner