Journal 11-Who Runs the World? Girls!
In Class Discussion
During this class, we completed our discussion on the Odyssey and Odysseus’ experiences as a leader in the selections that we read. The first thing that we discussed was the motivation by which people decide to become a leaders. Some other the things mentioned were: monetary, prestige, to be in positions of power, and the desire to actually help others. Of course, there are definitely many other reasons by which individuals come to power, but these are some of the most prevalent. In listing these several reasons, I took a moment to reflect and think about people that I know are in leadership positions and their motivations for becoming leaders.
For people like CEO's of major companies, I believe that much of their motivation in being leaders comes from their desire to make monetary gains and also the prestige that comes with being in their positions. I don’t believe that these people enter these positions solely for the benefit of trying to “better” the lives of the people that they influence through their ventures. On the other hand, when I think about individuals such as doctors and some public servants and politicians, there are some that genuinely do enter their positions due to their genuine desire to help others. My mind goes to individuals that tirelessly work and donate their efforts even in situations that they know will will not necessarily benefit them (i.e lawyers working pro-bono cases, doctors without borders, politicians donating funds towards personal causes,etc.)
In my own case, I feel that my desire to be a leader comes from a combination of the desire to help others and also the prestige that accompanies the position. The organization which I am currently president of specifically serves the international community in several capacities. We act as mentors to incoming and current international students, complete community service projects, hold social events, and raise awareness of cultures at Howard and the surrounding community. For these reasons, without having a desire to help others, it would be extremely difficult to hold this position. But of course, with a position of leadership there is certainly some prestige and special recognition that I, for one, definitely enjoy. For anyone to say that they are in a leadership position solely for the benefit of others is at least,a little bit dishonest. At the back of anyone’s mind, there is always the question of what you can benefit from being in that position.
Some of the problems Odysseus faced as a leader:
- Boastful: one of the main reasons why Poseidon released his wrath on Odysseus and his men was because as they were sailing away from the island of the cyclopes, Odysseus went out of his way to shout out to Polyphemus his full identity. This came after he had stabbed Polyphemus in the eye and he was obviously very angry as a result. Rather than sailing away quietly, he took the opportunity to worsen the situation. In this way, Odysseus does not think ahead to how his actions can impact him and the others around him
- Complacent: I’m not sure if it is necessarily the correct word to use to describe his tendency to become comfortable in situations. When his men came to Circe’s island, Odysseus stayed for about a year before he was finally urged by one of his men for them to begin making their way back to Ithaca. Odysseus had been on his way home from war for more than 10 years at this point. With Circe, he was not necessarily experiencing any strife considering that she made sure that he and his men were well-fed and housed in addition to being in a sexual agreement with the enchantress. Though he and his men were on a mission, he was easily swayed and taken off course by a comfortable situation.
- Trust: There was a two-way issue of trust between Odysseus and his men. On one hand, I do not believe that he had as much faith in his men as he could have had. Conversely, his men also had doubts in his motivation and competency as a leader. This especially exhibited when we look at the story of the bag of winds that was given to Odysseus by Aeolus. When the bag was gifted, only Odysseus knew that it carried the winds that prevented them from getting home. The rest of his men assumed that the bag carried riches or money which Odysseus would keep for himself once they reached Ithaca. So with these suspicions, once Odysseus fell asleep after steering the ship for eight days straight, they opened the bad to see why was inside. To their dismay, it released all the winds and they were quickly blown out of course after Ithaca was in sight. For one, with an entire crew of men, Odysseus should not have been steering the ship by himself for eight days and he could have simply warmed his men about the contents of the bag.
- His lack of trust is not entirely unwarranted considering that these were the same men that conspired and are a forbidden cow on the island of Helios. But all the same, both parties are responsible for a portion of the blame in this situation.
With all these things being considered, I think it goes to show that no leader is without their faults. Even with someone that comes home as a war hero, they far their own struggles which hold them back from being the perfect leaders that they think they may be. Also, this selection made me realize that a leader is nothing without their followers. Odysseus’ men were instrumental in shaping his performance as a leader. Without them, we would not really be able to see the effect of his interactions and the way that his thinking would be able to influence others. If a person has no one to influence, can they truly be a leader?
This module “Who Runs the World? Girls!” analyzes Plutarch’s writings on women and leadership. It begins with a preface in which Plutarch is speaking to Clea and expressing to her the fact that she is not like Thucydides because she does not believe that women who also
In a school like Howard University where a majority of the student body is comprised by women, it is interesting to see how much male leadership influences the decisions made in the university. For the first time in several years, the president of the SGA is a female, Allison Carpenter. In seeing how she came to her position as HUSA president and how some of her opposition express contempt for her, it is clear to see why there have been so few female HUSA presidents. I find Allyson to be very straightforward, honest, and tenacious. These are traits that are often not necessarily seen as positive traits in female leaders. For this reason, many people see her as being callous and disrespectful. Especially as she pursues several grievances against the university president, Wayne Frederick.