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The Odyssey: Leadership in Books 11 & 12
As a leader, it is important for Odysseus to be able to follow orders as well as issue them. `[I] dug a trench,' he says in
line 23 when he reaches the place Circe has descried. In digging the trench and carryout out the libations, et cetera,
he is following the orders of the demi-goddess. His ability to take orders is a virtue as it shows he isn't hesitant in
becoming involved; he sees himself as a leader and one of the team.
Odysseus shows he is willing to take part in less-appealing instances. `I cut their throats,' he says in line 35 when filling
the trench with blood. This shows he doesn't mind getting his hands dirty which is a good thing; otherwise his men
wouldn't respect him as much.
He is quick-thinking and fast-acting. `I turned to my comrades and told them quickly to flay the sheep,' he says in line
45 when the ghosts of the dead rise from the ground and he panics. This shows he is able to cope in challenging
situations and his natural talent at leadership.
Odysseus is reassuring to his men. `Nothing shall be forgotten,' he says in line 80, when referring to the wishes of
Elpenor to be buried. This shows his ability to put others' minds at rest, which is virtuous in a leader.
He knows his priorities. When his mother's ghost appears, he says that he `would not allow her to approach the blood
first' as he knows that he needs to speak to Teiresias before all others. This shows him putting his personal feelings
and emotions aside in order to achieve the greatest benefit for himself, his men and their journey.
Odysseus does not express himself to be higher and mightier than everyone else. He addresses Teiresias as `my
lord,' putting himself into an inferior position, therefore displaying his politeness in an appropriate situation.
He is patient. `I kept steady at my post,' he says when his mother approaches him to talk. He maintains self-control
and is usually calm in most situations. This is a virtue of a leader.
He is eloquent and a sound judger. `On the contrary, you have eloquence and sound judgement,' says Alcinous when
addressing Odysseus. These are both good attributes for a leader as they are persuasive and knowledgeable.
People trust Odysseus. `It rested with me to throw the door of our ambush open,' he says to the ghost of Achilles,
referring to the Wooden Trojan Horse and the Greeks' ploy to invade Troy. To open the door and lead the expedition
was a job given only to the most worthy and trusted, in this case Odysseus. It shows his men thought he was reliable.
He honours his comrades. `As soon as [Dawn] appeared, I sent a party to fetch the body of Elpenor.' This shows he
prioritises his oath to Elpenor and sees that it is done truly and before all else.