Odysseus To Be A Leader Or NotMartin Luther King Jr., George Washington, and Michael Jordan were all leaders in different ways of life. A leader or leadership can be defined in many different ways. I have come to the conclusion that they both basically have the same definition, someone or something that can overcome obstacles and lead people on the right path to victory. In The Odyssey, a book about war, struggles, power, and leadership, one man who is a great warrior must learn to become a leader if he wants to be cherished as a hero. Odysseus, king of Ithaka, an island off the west coast of Greece, has been granted the gift of leadership. Failing to realize that he must create conditions that enable people to grow and have happy and productive lives he must overcome his own selfishness to prove that he can be a leader (II Fairholm pg 19).

Even though he leads a crew of men that are somewhat ruthless to the destruction of living organisms it is his responsibility to lead them to safety. I understand leading others is not easy; it can be very stressful and irritating (I Fairholm preface). Still Odysseus must learn to become more responsible and mature in the decisions that he has to make on his journey. At times, he makes the wrong decisions regarding the safety of his crew. Because of this, he is punished all through his journeys, were his pride and power really takes over his process to think correctly it enables him to have good judgment about situations. Even though he is a quick thinker, able to get out of almost anything that comes his way. He still is not a great leader for the time that he has a crew to follow his command. Also, Odysseus has a son, Telemachos. Because of Odysseus being away at war in Troy, he has not been able to be there for his son. This essay will involve the definition of leadership, Odysseus’s becoming a leader, how Telemachos acquires leadership skills in his father’s absence, and Odysseus’s eventual accomplishment of leadership skills.

As I mentioned earlier, a leader or leadership can be defined in many different terms of language. There have been many studies that have been conducted to determine the meaning of both of the terms. Even though leaders are needed throughout the world, it is hard to find the right person for the job (Nanis & Berns pg 5). Odysseus was chosen because of his rank as a great warrior in the Greek days. He was born to be a leader and a great warrior. The traits of his father Laertes, have been passed down to him; and the gods see that he will be a leader one day. A leader sets the occasion or provides a stimulus for the evocation of the follower behavior (spears pg 31). Odysseus gained his leadership because he knows how to sweet talk people and twist up a situation so that he may have what he wants in life. He was a very slick and shifty man that could con his way out of almost any thing. Leaders sometimes have the tendency to move out of the structure of things. All because of the excitement or the rule they may have over other people’s lives. This is one reason why Odysseus could not save the lives of his men in their time of need. Because he thought that they should know what to except out of situations that came before them in life. One can also see Odysseus irresponsibility when dealing with his son, Telemachos. He did not really have anyone to look up to and teach him how to become a great leader.

Odysseus, a man of much being, has been given the gift of leadership, but can it be said that he has proven himself to be a leader? After the Trojan War, Odysseus and his men must travel a long journey back to Ithaka. During their travel, they run into much hardship. Odysseus being the leader of these men in obligated to insure their safety to return home. Odysseus, still not really understanding what it means to be a leader puts the lives of his crew in danger. One example of this endngerment is when Odysseus and his crew encounter the Louts-Eaters. When Odysseus and his men sailed the sea restlessly for ten days at one point they landed on the country of the Lotus-Eaters and relaxed for some time. Odysseus decides to send some of his men to find out about the country they have landed on instead of going himself. When his men find the settlers they were offered some fruit. This is no ordinary fruit. It is the honey-sweet fruit of lotus. This fruit has the ability to make someone forget their homeland and stay there to eat away ate the fruit forever. Odysseus has to go and force his men on the ship in order for them to leave without anyone wanting to stay on the island (Homer IX pg 137). This time they were lucky not to loose any men, but at the lawless island of the Cyclopes they were not so lucky. Because of his greed and pride Odysseus causes the deaths of some of his men. If Odysseus is really a great leader, he would have avoided some of the situations that happened on his journey. It is just a matter of time before Odysseus becomes the only man left to return home to the great island of Ithaka.

Telemachos, the son of Odysseus, has been without the leadership of his father his whole life. His mother has raised him ever since he was a baby. It is good that his mother has been there to lead him on the right path throughout the time that his father is not there, but in that age and time it is very important to have a man there to follow as you grow up in life. The absence of his father is one thing that has come to hurt Telemachos as a young warrior coming into the world. A leader has the power to bring out the best in a follower (O’toole pg 23). Telemachos did not have anyone there to inspire him by showing him how good he is capable of becoming, and helping him realize his elevated aspirations. This absence of a father is why he really could not control the suitor’s actions when they entered his home. Because he did not have a leader there to create visions and values about situations that deal with everyday life he could not succeed. The conditions that were created for Telemachos did not really conduct a change in his behaviors as a man. In other words, even though his mother raised him up to be a man and take care of his responsibilities, Telemachos just never had a leader to show him how to be strong and take charge for all of his actions in life. Odysseus’s absence has really affected Telemachos a great deal, this absence may affect him throughout his life.

Odysseus was born to be a leader, but can he accomplish the goal of actually being a leader who shows leadership? Even though he has been through so many hardships and caused the lives of all his men, he will one day become a great leader. As he sits and tells his story to the Phaiakians, he realizes that there were some things that he should have done differently on his journey. During the situation on Circe’s island where his men were transformed into pigs, Odysseus was obligated to sleep with Circe in order for his men to be transformed back in to humans. He had to learn a lesson about leadership and the way a leader has to stay true to his mission or duty that lies ahead. Even though he stepped up as a leader at that poin, he was able to participate in sexual relations with Circe in order to free his men. He totally forgot about the fact that he was trying to return home to his kingdom. A leader primary contribution is in the recognition of good ideas, the support of those ideas, and the willingness to challenge the system in order to get new products, processes, and services adopted. I must say Odysseus is a real leader. He made many mistakes as a leader, but he was able to reflect on them and learn from all of his mistakes. Odysseus was the type of leader that saw his ideas in his mind and thought about the situation before reacting to it. That is why he was able to escape many of the obstacles that were laid in front of him. Odysseus will one day be able to challenge the process of individuals, inspire a shared vision, enable others to act, model the way for his son, and encourage the hearts of his entire kingdom (O’Toole pg 31).

Odysseus may one day be added to the list of great heros in his own way. Leaders are people who need to be respected throughout of life. They help pave the way for young people to grow up as mature adults in the world today. I know that I am a leader. I feel everyone can be a leader. It is not about what one does or how great one is, but how they do it. Odysseus had to learn that lesson the hard way. Telemachos, will eventually learn to become a leader in time. It is not hard to become a leader if a person really thinks about the situation and go approaches it the right way. One must take control, be the aggressor, and be a leader; that is what life is about. The faith of Odysseus’s men was determined by the decisions that he made on his journeys. Nevertheless, these obstacles were the only way that Odysseus could learn to take control and be a leader. Sometimes situations must occur to make sure that a person fully understands a point of view. It is hard to be a leader. That is why it takes a strong person with the right attitude to accomplish all of the goals that are needed. Leadership will bring Odysseus a long way; helping him to teach his son Telemachoas how to be a leader so he does not go through the things that he had to go through in life.


O’Toole, James. Leadership A to Z: A Guide for the Appropriately Ambitious. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999.

Fairholm, Gilbert. Perspectives on Leadership. Westport, Conecticut: London, 1998.

Spears, Larry C, ed. Insights on Leadership. New York: 1998.

Fairholm, Gilbert. Capturing the Heart of Leadership. Westport, Connecticut: London, 1997.

Bennis, Warren & Nanus, Burt. Leaders: The Strategies for taking Charge. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.

Hormer. The Odyssey. New York: Harper Collins, 1965

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