Xenophon, one of Socrates' students, is arguably one of the most pragmatic scholars ever. Unlike other scholars of his time like Plato, Xenophon concentrates on things as they are and not as they ought to be. His philosophy was greatly admired by scholars in the medieval period who wanted a more pragmatic approach to issues in their societies. In his book Cyropaedia “The Education of Cyrus”, Xenophon gives an account of an imaginary life of Cyrus the great. Though the book does not give accurate information about the real life of Cyrus the great, it helps inform various qualities that make good leaders. Of importance to Xenophon, is the ability of a leader to influence his people to follow him willingly. Cyrus is of one of such rare leaders that commands obedience and diligence of people from different kingdoms tribes and nations. Xenophon examines the education of Cyrus and the development of the attributes that make him a respected and loved leader in these kingdoms. Xenophon discusses the education model of the Persians, which contributed significantly to the development of Cyrus as an exceptional leader. The class of the elite in the Persian kingdom was separated from the rest of the community to avoid disruptions. Their education system sought to kill the desire to perform improper or immoral acts. They devised the free square where the elite class lived and were trained o becoming good leaders of the society. The free square was divided into four parts consisting of different people namely, boys, youth, men of mature years and elders. The ultimate goal for every boy in the kingdom was to go through the system and become and elder in his old age. In each of these stages, one required a lot of discipline and self-evaluation, which developed an intrinsic commitment to doing right among the citizens of Persia (Ambler 13). This education derived admirable characters of the leaders who exercised wise and just leadership and commanded the loyalty, respect and admiration of most people in the kingdom. Cyrus underwent this education and showed great promise in terms of wisdom and commitment. At this age, he accompanied his mother to visit his grandfather Astyages king of the medians. During his stay with Astyages, he exhibited great wisdom and understanding of different things in the world. His grandfather grew so fond of him and loved him greatly. He upheld the lessons that he had learnt in Persia during his stay in media. Some of the leadership qualities exhibited during his stay in Media included sharing meat with servants, advising his grandfather on moderate wine drinking among many others. He decided to remain and master the skills of horse riding in the Median palace, as he was already good at justice, and war tactics taught in Persia. He vowed not to let the Median ways of life influence him to abandon the qualities he learnt in Persia (23). Modern day leaders can learn to uphold integrity despite the various environments they face. Upholding integrity would promote a good workmanship for the people power. During his stay with his grandfather, Cyrus perfected his horse riding skills and hunting skills. He made many friends who accompanied him. One of the qualities that he portrayed was that he never felt jealous whenever he lost any contest with his friends but instead congratulated them and worked hard to outdo them in the next contest. He delighted in taking part in the contests he was weak in and gradually became better in them. When an opportunity presented itself, Cyrus led a successful attack against the Syrians. Despite winning the contest, he spent most of his time weeping for the departed and annoyed his grandfather. After the news of his success had reached his father, he summoned for him that he might complete his Persian education. He gave gifts to his friends as he departed, and many mourned over his departure. Leaders should learn not to take advantage of their strengths but instead make efforts in bettering their weaknesses (Ambler 66). A good leader should be able to interact freely with those that he leads. Many months later, he was obligated to return the Medes to aid in a war against the Syrians. He sought advice from his father on how to manage such a large army. The advice he got would be most beneficial in helping him become a successful leader and win the war. He was committed to making sure that he had alternative sources of supplies for his army in case his uncle failed to provide enough supplies for them. Alternatively, he was to make sure that his army was never idle thus would not be wasteful in their spending. He was to make allies of the countries he was to ensure that he had an adequate supply for his soldiers. His duty was to ensure that in all conditions, his men never lacked a thing and in return, they would offer their loyalty to him (Ambler 78). Unlike other kingdoms, he was the servant to his army and not the other way round. Leaders using this quality would have an easy time managing their people. One of the hardest things for any human being to do is win the will of another human being. Good leaders have the quality that people subject themselves under their authority willingly. For any leader to attain this achievement he should carefully learn to rule like Cyrus in Xenophon’s tale. A leader that is committed to serving his and earning their trust will always be successful in his ruling.
Ambler, Wayne. The Education of Cyrus. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell UP, 2001. Print.