What Type of Leadership Did Ancient Greece Have?

Leadership has been an essential element in human society for centuries. Its forms and styles have evolved over time, influenced by various factors such as culture, traditions, and societal norms.

Ancient Greece is renowned for its significant contributions to the development of Western civilization, including its approach to leadership. In this article, we’ll explore the type of leadership that was prevalent in Ancient Greece.

Ancient Greek Society

Before delving into the specifics of Ancient Greek leadership, it’s essential to understand the societal structure of ancient Greece. The ancient Greeks lived in city-states or polis, with each city-state having its own government and way of life. The two most famous city-states were Athens and Sparta.

Athenian Democracy

Athens is known for its democratic form of government. Athenian democracy was an innovative system that allowed citizens to participate actively in decision-making processes. However, it’s important to note that only male citizens over 18 years old were allowed to vote and hold office.

The Athenian government comprised three branches: the Assembly, the Council of Five Hundred, and the Courts. The Assembly was responsible for passing laws and making decisions on issues such as war or peace. The Council of Five Hundred was responsible for managing day-to-day affairs, while the Courts were responsible for administering justice.

Spartan Oligarchy

In contrast to Athens’ democracy, Sparta had an oligarchic form of government. The Spartan government was ruled by a small group of people known as the Gerousia or council of elders. This council comprised 28 men over 60 years old who served for life along with two kings who acted as military commanders.

The Spartan society had a strict hierarchical structure with a focus on military training from a young age.

Leadership Styles

Despite their different forms of government, both Athens and Sparta had distinct leadership styles.

Athenian Leadership

Athenian leadership was characterized by eloquence, persuasion, and the ability to win over the public. Athenian leaders were expected to be able to communicate effectively with their constituents and convince them of their ideas’ merit. The most famous Athenian leader was Pericles, who led Athens during its golden age from 461-429 BCE.

Spartan Leadership

Spartan leadership was focused on discipline, obedience, and loyalty to the state. The Spartan leaders were expected to be role models for their people and lead by example. Their primary responsibility was to maintain order and protect the state from external threats.


In conclusion, Ancient Greece had two different forms of government with distinct leadership styles. Athenian democracy emphasized communication skills and persuasiveness, while Spartan oligarchy focused on discipline, obedience, and loyalty to the state. Understanding these differences is essential in comprehending Ancient Greek society’s complexity and its significant contributions to Western civilization’s development.