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The Leadership Qualities of Odysseus and Shakleton Essay

There are many different characteristics that make a person a true leader. Odysseus is a fictional character from a fantasy epic poem known as “The Odyssey.” He traveled on a twenty year journey with many men along with him but in the end all of his men perished; Odysseus can be classified as a leader and a hero along with a man named Ernest Shackleton. Shackleton is a real life man who went on an expedition to reach Antarctica in the years 1914 to 1916. He also had a whole crew with him for the journey and he saved all of them. When comparing leadership of these two men the three most important traits to take into consideration are confidence, balance between tasks and interpersonal relationships, and the ability to stay on track. Every good leader needs some amount of confidence, but too much of it isn’t always a good thing. Both Odysseus and Shackelton are confident in themselves and their abilities but in different ways.

Odysseus contains too much confidence he comes off completely arrogant and cocky whereas Shackelton has just enough confidence that his men have faith in him. Odysseus has hubris which means extreme pride or arrogance. If it wasn’t for this he could have gotten himself out of so many situations and saved all of his men. His cockiness got him involved in situations that he thought he could control but he really couldn’t. For example Odysseus wanted to fight off a Cyclopes so when he saw one he knew he had to go after it, and when he did many of his men got killed. On the other hand Shackelton didn’t always feel confident in himself and his journey but he never let his men become aware of that. He always came off extremely confident and always looked comfortable. He had to do this because he knew had a major impact on his crews mind set so he had just enough confidence in him and his men. So as you can see confidence is extremely important in the role of being a hero.

Maintaining relationships with your crew is crucial to completing a journey successfully. I believe that Shackelton had a great relationship with his crew, while Odysseus’s relationship with his crew wasn’t that great. Shackelton’s men had faith in him and his abilities they also trusted and listened to him. But Odysseus’s crew did not always listen to him and obey orders which is not a good sign when you’re on a journey. In one scene of “The Odyssey”, Odysseus received a bag of winds from the wind god Aeolus to guide Odysseus and his crew home. So Odysseus tells his men do not open the bag, but when he’s sleeping they open the bag and it makes their journey home longer. This could have been avoided if Odysseus had a better relationship with his crew and if they actually listened to each other.

On the contrary Shackelton cares about his men he even insisted that they socialize after dinner as a tonic for declining morale. Furthermore a balance between task and interpersonal relations is vital to being a hero. The ability to stay on track during an adventure is another key aspect in being a leader. I would say that both Odysseus and Shackelton have problems with staying on track. Both of them let the group ramble or stay off track too much. Too start Odysseus’s journey to get home took him a total of twenty whole years because he got so side tracked. Shackelton also became sidetracked that he wasn’t even able to reach his main goal.

Even though he didn’t reach his main goal he still saved all his men from death which is more important whereas all of Odysseus’s men perished. Staying on track is extremely important, without it you will become unsuccessful in your journey home. So as you can see if you’re comparing two leaders such as Odysseus and Shackelton the three most important factors to look at are confidence, balance between tasks and interpersonal relationships, and ability to stay on track. Both these leaders achieve greatly in some of these categories but also lack in others. Even though both leaders struggled in their journey home with men perishing and not being able to reach their goal, both Odysseus and Shackelton are great leaders and in different ways.


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