What makes Odysseus a good leader in The Odyssey?

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Odysseus is a good leader because he is willing to keep his eyes on the goal no matter what. He does not allow himself to be seduced or distracted from his course perpetually, whether he is on Calypso's island or tempted by the song of the sirens. He takes his...

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Odysseus is a good leader because he is willing to keep his eyes on the goal no matter what. He does not allow himself to be seduced or distracted from his course perpetually, whether he is on Calypso's island or tempted by the song of the sirens. He takes his responsibilities seriously.

Odysseus also cares about his men, never seeing his life as being of more worth than theirs and always remaining loyal to them. He isn't only worried about getting himself back home; he wants to make sure all his sailors are able to return to their families as well. Even when some of his men eat the enchanted lotus petals and claim they do not care to return home, Odysseus physically forces them onto the ship because he knows what is best for them and that they are being influenced.

Another reason Odysseus is an ideal leader is that he is intelligent. While he is physically powerful, his brain tends to get him out of more scrapes than his sword arm does. He was the one who thought of the Trojan Horse. He was the one who found out how to trick and then incapacitate the Cyclops when it captured some of his men.

Interestingly, Odysseus's willingness to mature and change also makes him a great leader. While he is a bit arrogant at times (his boasting as to who he is to the Cyclops, for instance), he grows in humility as he undertakes his journey. This comes to his aid when he disguises himself as a beggar in his own home, and he has to take the insults of Penelope's suitors before taking his chance to get them away from his wife for good.

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Odysseus is a good leader for many reasons, but he is not at all perfect. His flaws are profound, and they cause a lot of problems for him and for his men, but somehow, his imperfections humanize him—enhancing his leadership abilities rather than negate them altogether. For example, he is able to outwit the Cyclops and save his surviving crew members from death by the man-eating Polyphemus, but he is so proud of his own accomplishment, he brags to the Cyclops about his identity; this display of hubris invites punishment and danger, to him and to his crew when Poseidon, the Cyclops's father, avenges his son. Though everyone suffers for Odysseus's excessive pride, it is likely that the crew see Odysseus as a man capable of mistakes, just like them, and his humanity may inspire them and make his heroic qualities feel like they are in reach for every man.

As well, Odysseus is well-remembered for his wit and cunning, both of which enable him to be an excellent strategist. His ability to devise clever plans quickly saves lives, while also contributing to his reputation as a war hero. Odysseus's abilities often precede him, so the fact that he is known as a good leader simply feeds itself, bringing more opportunities for Odysseus to prove himself in this way.

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Odysseus is a good leader because he is clever, brave, and he cares about the men whom he leads.  When his men are trapped in Polyphemus's cave, Odysseus tells the Cyclops that his name is "Nobody"; that night, he gets the monster really drunk and then the crew blinds the monster when he's passed out.  Then, when the other Cyclopes rush to his aid, he calls to them that Nobody is hurting him.  So they leave!  It is a good plan, and Odysseus is very cunning in his execution of it.

Further, Odysseus bravely goes to the Underworld to find the prophet, Teiresias, who can tell him and his crew how to get home.  Despite his own terror, he is successful here.  He also leads his crew past the Sirens, bravely leaving his ears unstopped so that he can hear their songs.  He even sails past Scylla, knowing that he could be one of the six men the monster eats.  If more of his men would have ultimately listened to his leadership (especially at Thrinacia), it seems likely that some of them might have actually made it home.

Finally, Odysseus really cares about the men he leads.  At the land of the lotus-eaters, three of his men eat the lotus and no longer wish to return home.  He physically drags each one back to the ship because he knows that, in their hearts, they still want to return to their families.  Then, after Elpenor dies at Circe's house, his spirit asks Odysseus to return and dispose of his body correctly, which Odysseus does out of respect for his crew member.  Odysseus doesn't seem to look on his men as just a crew to be managed but as individuals who matter and deserve the best he can give them.

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