Leadership from The Odyssey and Comparison to Real World

Leadership Examples from the Odyssey:

  •  Persistence-Defeat is Not an Option
  •  Negative Listening Ability
  •  Level of Intellect to Solve Problems

Listening Ability

The importance of listening is often an overlooked skill with regard to leadership. Leaders are often envisioned as the general who directs his troops into battle in distinct formations or a CEO who infects his employees with inspiration and guidance. The art of listening is taken for granted, because if the general does not listen to the scouts to find out what his army is up against or the CEO blindly leads his employees into an idea not fully researched, the outcome is typically defeat. For leaders to successfully lead they first must gather intelligence about the situations, and for the most part, listening is a key type of knowledge transfer.

One worksite had a slight listening disability. Certain employees would be asked to write up work reports relative to their services or tasks, which were ultimately sent to a supervisor to review. There was a logjam at the supervisor level and the reports were not being processed in a reasonable time frame. This problem appeared to impact cash flow. Employees voiced their concerns and thoughts about implementing a more efficient review process, however those concerns were not fully implemented. The supervising party should have listened to employees to improve the timeliness of their report processing.

Odysseus from the Odyssey ventured into a strikingly similar situation. In the 9th book of the Odyssey, Odysseus and his men journeyed into a Cyclops cave. While his men voiced their concerns and desperately wanted to leave, Odysseus refused to listen, resulting in a deadly confrontation with the Cyclops. The monster killed many of Odysseus’s men and the whole crew suffered for Odysseus’s refusal to listen.

Seeing a behavior in practice, good or bad, affords you the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes. The art of listening simply takes time, focus and energy. The RWL Program exposed me to a real world experience where I learned that to actively listen to employees and others is one of the skills of good leader and can make a huge impact on the company or organization as a whole.

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About the Program

The Real World Leaders - Real World Students Program is a leadership program created in partnership with the University of Kentucky that enables students to work at different work sites across America and observe a wide variety of leadership skills, traits and characteristics.

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