The Othello which is presented to us in Act I scene i of William Shakespeare's Othello is not an exemplary character. In fact, he is painted as an ineffective leader and a disreputable scoundrel in the conversation between Iago and Roderigo, though of course he is never mentioned by name.
First, Iago makes it clear that he thinks Othello is a terrible military leader, and it is equally clear that Iago hates the Moor. (Of course, this should clue the audience in to the fact that we should not necessarily believe everything Iago says about Othello, but of course we cannot be sure yet.) He tells his friend that three prominent Venetians asked Othello, on Iago's behalf, to make Iago his lieutenant, but Othello said:
...For “Certes,” says he,“I have already chose my officer.”
Preferment goes by letter and affection,And not by old gradation, where each secondStood heir to th' first. Now sir, be judge yourself,Whether I in any just term am affinedTo love the Moor.
Not I, I must be found.My parts, my title, and my perfect soulShall manifest me rightly.