Is Odysseus a Good or Bad Leader

As we grow up, we need to know what makes a great leader because we need to choose people to lead us to create a better country. In The Odyssey, Odysseus shows the qualities of a great leader: he is brave, clever, and caring. By using Odysseus as an example, we would know what good leadership is.

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To be a great leader today, he or she must be fearless. By showing fear, it can affect the entire team. According to the article, ‘The 45 Qualities Every True Leader Must Have” the author, Kate McKay, states that, ‘Such fear, once apparent, is contagious, and the exercise of self-control and willpower are necessary not only to harness the fear in one’s self but to prevent the spread of others.” In The Odyssey, Odysseus is showing bravery so that his team would also feel courageous. If Odysseus was showing fear or panic, his team and he would not have survived Polyphemus, the Cyclops, Circe, the witch-goddess, Scylla, a six headed monster, and Charybdis, a monster that can sink their ship. However, he did not show any type of fear when overcoming difficult challenges. He became courageous and defeated them with confidence, which is what a great leader should do. If today’s leader were to show fear, our country would also be terrified and may be in chaos. However, by having a brave and fearless leader, like Odysseus, our country will feel more secure and confident,

Another quality that a great leader should have is, he or she needs to be quick-minded and clever. The reason is because they would need to quickly solve problems to constant change. A great leader should be able to think ahead of their team, in case something sudden happens (McKay, The 45 Qualities Every True Leader Must Have, page 9). They must be able to adapt to sudden change and quickly learn how to solve it. According to the article,”A Primer on Greek Mythology: Part IV The Odyssey and Applying What We’ve Learned” the author states, ‘Odysseus is known for being wise and clever.” In The Odyssey, when Odysseus and his team encounter the cyclops, Polyphemus, Odysseus tricked him into thinking that Odysseus’ name is Nohbdy and stabs him in the eye. When the Gods heard Polyphemus’s cry of help, they thought that nobody is tricking Polyphemus, which made them not help Polyphemus. If Odysseus said his real name, his team and himself would’ve been cursed or killed. However, the Gods did not curse them, since they heard the name ‘Nohbdy” as the word ‘nobody”. Another scene that Odysseus showed his cleverness is, when Polyphemus was blinded, Odysseus and his men used his rams to hide themselves to escape. Odysseus quickly thought of a way to escape from Polyphemus without getting caught, telling his men to do the same, so that they wouldn’t get caught and killed. By using his quick-mind and cleverness, he and his team survived and were able to safely escape. This proves that Odysseus is quick-minded and clever, which are traits of a great leader. Odysseus used his head and quickly learned how to solve problems fast, for him and his team to survive.

Lastly, to be a great leader for today’s generation, he or she should care for their team and show empathy to them. Showing empathy and being kind, help make a connection between the leader and their team. According to the article, ‘7 Character Traits Exceptional Leaders Have In Common” by Sherrie Campbell, she stated that, ‘Empathy is the most extraordinary superpower. It is the one emotion that fosters an authentic connection between one human being to another.” This quote means that if we can understand each other, it can help build a better connection, communication, and teamwork. Odysseus shows selflessness towards his men (Contributor, A Manly Guest, ”The Odyssey Meaning and Life Lesson” page 4). He doesn’t leave them, he encourages them when they were afraid, and made an important decision to risk some of his men instead of all of them. At the beginning of The Odyssey, two of his men ate the lotus flower at The Land of the Lotus Eaters and became entrance to staying on the island. Home and family, in ancient Greek culture is very important. Which means, when his men suddenly wanted to stay, Odysseus knew that his men were entranced by the flower and knew that in the inside, they didn’t mean it. He took them and tied them to the ship, so they wouldn’t escape. Later, when his men feared Scylla and Charybdis, Odysseus told them that they shouldn’t be scared. Saying that if they passed a big angry cyclops from its own cave and survived, they shouldn’t fear them. Odysseus encourages them and lifts their spirits. Lastly, when asking Circe if there is another way to escape Scylla and Charybdis, without having his men killed, she said there isn’t. Scylla and Charybdis are immortal destroyers. Meaning, if Odysseus wanted to kill them, he wouldn’t have a chance to and would get all his men and himself killed. Which made Odysseus choose to sacrifice six of his men, instead of all of them. Campbell states that ‘People of exceptional character shine from within, are approachable, willing to listen and always contribute to raising the morale of everyone around them. To be a great leader, we must come to appreciate all people.” From looking at what she said, this describes what Odysseus is to his men. Overall, this shows how dedicated or connected he is to his men, which is a quality we would need to have for a great leader.

Although Odysseus made mistakes, he still showcases great leadership. According to the article, ‘Soapbox; An Odyssey” by Marcia Worth-Baker, who is also a teacher, made her students imagine themselves as Odysseus, to persuade their classmates, who is acting as Odysseus’s men, to come to the front of the room if they showed good leadership. One by one, the students came to the front of the room. The last student, Jennifer, came to the front and stated her speech. She stated, ”Look, I know that I haven’t been the greatest leader so far, but I’m going to learn from my mistakes. If we meet another monster like Cyclops, I’ll try to talk to him as an equal instead of going for violence. Then maybe the gods will help us get home. I’m also going to ask for help from Athena and Zeus and listen to what all of you say about which way we should try to go home. I know that you want to see your families. I want to get back to Penelope and Telemachus. So, I promise that we’ll sail straight home with Athena’s guidance.” (Worth-Baker, Soapbox; An Odyssey, page 2). When she finished, she watches her classmate join her in the front of the classroom. This article shows, that even though Odysseus made some mistakes along the way, his men still trusts him. Odysseus has great leadership for his men to be able to trust him a lot, even with the mistakes he made.

From reading The Odyssey by Homer, the traits that Odysseus showcase throughout the story, showcase great leadership. Odysseus is brave, clever, and caring. The leaders today, have a lot to learn from Odysseus. From these many difficult challenges that came to Odysseus, he still overcame them and showed a good model to his men. If our leaders now were to act like Odysseus, younger generation can look up to these inspirational role models and help our country to become an even better one.

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Is Odysseus a Good or Bad Leader. (2019, Jul 30). Retrieved May 20, 2022 , from

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