Agesilaus II, the king of Sparta, was the king who led the glory days of Sparta and witnessed its collapse at the same time. He spent all of his life in wars for the glory of Sparta. Agesilaus II was a special Spartan. He was small and limped due to a congenital condition. In Sparta, only healthy children were brought up, yet he survived possibly because he was a prince or his half-brother crowned king and gave up the position of a prince.
He described himself as an ordinary person and entered Agoge, a school where royal blood didn’t go to. Despite a physical handicap, he became one of the best warriors with dedication and effort. No one in his class could beat him. He also led the Spartan army with a spear in his hand even after he got older. He was an outstanding warrior, a great strategist, and the best commanding officer.
Greek historian Xenophon said Agesilaus II learned how to be submissive as he graduated from Agoge, which is known for its Spartan-style education, unlike other princes.
This is a meaningful point. A great leader needs to understand the complaints of subordinates, people, and those who take orders from him. What does it mean to understand? Every election candidate says he understands the suffering of people who are struggling the most. They might truly believe that they understand it.
Xenophon, a student of Socrates, was interested in leadership and left several excellent books. The quality of Agesilaus II he complimented was not about understanding – it was submissiveness. Those who can be submissive can make others submit to them. Current society is full of leaders who understand, yet submissive ones are hard to find. Rather than being submissive, they refuse it on the excuses of history, livelihood, mission, and others and put it forward as a quality of a leader. Xenophon had witnessed a submissive king – when can we?