What The Spartans Taught Us About Team Work

Taylor Gmahling - Marketing Representative

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The Spartan Army dominated Ancient Greece. And it wasn’t because there was something in the water in Sparta that made their soldiers grow crazy strong, but because they worked together as a team.

THIS IS SPARTA…

Don’t lie, you were thinking it, too!

Now that that’s out of the way…

Sparta was a society in Ancient Greece known for their kickass warriors. At the height of their power (between the sixth and fourth centuries BC), the Spartans were one of the most feared military forces in the Greek world.

Let’s take a closer look at how Sparta got their army to level 100!

#1: Have A Strong Mission

A damn good mission statement has the power to:

  • Lead your team forward
  • Refocus your energy and attention on to what really matters
  • Establish consistency and stability
  • Convey your unique message to the public

Every team needs a strong mission statement, even the Spartans.

It doesn’t take extensive research to learn what was most important to Sparta – being the best at WAR!

Life in Sparta (education, politics, art and EVERYTHING ELSE) revolved around the military.

The Spartan military education system for boys, called Agoge, emphasized obedience, endurance, courage, and self-control, while also teaching its students how to be badass warriors.1

#2: Invest In Company Culture

A strong company culture is more important today than ever before! Company culture has quickly become a must-have for companies looking not only attract top talent but improve employee engagement and retention.

Company culture defines the environment in which employees work. It includes a variety of elements, such as: work environment, company mission, value, ethics, expectations, and goals.2

It comes as no surprise that the kickass team of Spartans had their own version of company culture: a strict code of honor. The Spartan code of honor, or esprit de corps, included the following values:

  • No soldier was superior to another.
  • A warrior must never fight with raging anger, but with calm determination.
  • Spartans must walk without any noise, and speak only with few words.

Spartans also and a very clear code of dishonor, which lead to being labeled an outcast and public humiliation via special clothing:

  • Failure to complete the rigorous training.
  • Deserting during battle.
  • Dropping the shield.

We aren’t suggesting your team should necessarily have a code of dishonor but it is important to not only discuss the values you want to uphold and practice but also the ones you will not tolerate.

#3: Teamwork Makes The Dreamwork

Having trust within your team is incredibly important! It either makes or breaks your ability to work together successfully.

The Spartans undoubtedly knew this to be true.

“Fight for this alone: the man who stands at your shoulder. He is everything, and everything is contained within him,” said Spartan soldier Dienekes, who is rumored to be the bravest Spartan who fought in the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC.3

Building trust doesn’t happen overnight (and repairing broken trust can take even longer) but the effort is well worth it. Taking the time establish and build trust within your team will greatly improve their overall workplace engagement and satisfaction.

#4: It Never Hurts to Have a Pump-Up Song

Pump-up songs have the power to instantly boost your mood, creativity, and ability to get work done!

We all have a go-to song or playlist that inspires us and provides that extra push of motivation when we are #struggling or, in Sparta’s case, going into battle.

Yes, that’s right, the Spartan army had a pre-battle pump-up song!

On the morning of battle, Spartan men would chant the war song, “Song of Castor,” (named after a Spartan hero). Their singing was accompanied by flautists. Only then, keeping time with the steady rhythm of the music, would the Spartan army, raise their lances and begin their advance into battle.4

If morale is low, consider turning up some tunes to change things around!

The Legend Endures

The legend of Sparta endures and inspires for a simple reason: Spartans were the masters of their craft, unparalleled in training, dedication, and teamwork.

What is your team known for? Maybe more importantly, what do you want your team to be known for?

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Notes & Gossip 📌

  1. Staff, History.com, (April, 06 2018). “Sparta.” Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/sparta
  2. DOYLE, ALISON. (Updated March 16, 2018). “Understanding Company Culture.” Retrieved from  https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-company-culture-2062000
  3. Eschenroeder,Kyle. (March 12th 2014). “7 Badass Lessons You Learn From Spartans.” Retrieved from https://thoughtcatalog.com/kyle-eschenroeder/2014/03/7-badass-lessons-you-learn-from-spartans/
  4. Penadés, Antonio. (2016).“Bred for Battle—Understanding Ancient Sparta’s Military Machine.” Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/archaeology-and-history/magazine/2016/11-12/sparta-military-greek-civilization/

Scholarly Shout-outs 🌟

  • Doyle, Alison. (Updated March 16, 2018). “Understanding Company Culture.” Retrieved from  https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-company-culture-2062000
  • Eschenroeder, Kyle. (March 12th 2014). “7 Badass Lessons You Learn From Spartans.” Retrieved from https://thoughtcatalog.com/kyle-eschenroeder/2014/03/7-badass-lessons-you-learn-from-spartans/
  • Penadés, Antonio. (2016).“Bred for Battle—Understanding Ancient Sparta’s Military Machine.” Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/archaeology-and-history/magazine/2016/11-12/sparta-military-greek-civilization/
  • Staff, History.com.(April, 06 2018). “Sparta.” Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/sparta

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