Leadership is a skill and virtue which not so many people possess. In a societal setting, it is essential in ensuring organization and order amongst people. More so, it is a source of motivation and inspiration to the community's developments as the leaders act as role models to their subjects. Therefore, the leaders themselves ought to be virtuous to meet their leadership goals effectively. Importantly, one crucial component in ensuring societal security regarding development and safety is the military. The main aim of a military leader is to influence the subordinates into accomplishing the pursued mission through setting objectives, instructions and motivation. Thus, it is evident that the success of a military action depends primarily on the management styles as well as the attitude of its commander. This paper presents the traits that make an excellent military leader based on the strengths and weaknesses of Othello, a fictitious character in Othello by William Shakespeare. Also, it presents a comparison of Othello and other fictitious persons from other artistic works to analyze his approach in military leading.
Othello is a tragic story presented in a play form written by William Shakespeare. The story revolves around Othello, the Venice army's general, whose stable leadership is blurred by jealousy and manipulation (Carey & McCulloch, 30). His failures, particularly, the crimes of murdering his beloved wife, Desdemona, and his trusted subject Cassio, haunts him pushing him to take his own life at the end of the story (Carey & McCulloch, 30). Lago, who holds a grudge with Othello for not considering him for a promotion position, uses his manipulative ways to destroy him (Othello). His plan succeeds when he manages to convince Othello that the man he had entrusted with the lieutenant rank is having an affair with Desdemona, his wife (Carey & McCulloch, 30). Clouded by insecurities, Othello distrusts his wife by trying to prove lago's claims over her innocent actions which later make him believe.
Confidence and brevity are critical traits in leading an army. These two virtues enable a commander to deprive war phobia as from the soldiers as well as inspiring them to dedicate themselves to the mission; thus, completing the task with minimal damages. Notably, at the beginning of the play, Othello presents a composed character of an excellent military leader that could convince me to follow him to a battle. First, Shakespeare portrays Othello's brevity as a commander in the Venetian army through his nobleness while addressing the Senate (Carey & McCulloch, 23). Othello, on the other hand, expresses his confidence as a soldier when he defends his love relationship with Desdemona by saying that Desdemona's father, the DDuke should be proud of his victories in battles (Carey & McCulloch, 24). Othello's secret wedding to Desdemona is evidence that the DDuke had not approved his daughter's connectivity to the general due to his social status and skin colour (Carey & McCulloch, 24). I think Othello's guts to stand for his relationship against the Duke by highlighting his war success is a reflection of courage and brevity which battle leaders must possess.
Again, his affectionate personality is encouraging. I think that as a soldier I would require affection to help me calm the nervousness before going to battle. Furthermore, a military leader who spreads this feeling motivates and inspires his juniors to be passionate about the planned mission which, in turn, facilitates the successful completion of a task. In Othello, Othello is a loveable man as expressed by his love towards his wife (Carey & McCulloch, 22). He goes through a lot of struggles to prove he's worthy to his wife. More so, he is an honest and trustworthy person, a trait that boosts his ethical approach of leading (Carey & McCulloch, 25). His trust in people makes him believe in subordinates unconditionally, a habit that contributes to his failure (Carey & McCulloch, 25). Even though being over affectionate can cost a leader his stability as it projects his/her weakness, it is also a source of inspiration in which he/she can share with his/her subordinates.
On the other hand, Othello's vices towards the end of the play indicate that he was an unstable man regarding emotions wellness. In my view, this weakness is dangerous as it makes a leader irrational rather than rational in making crucial decisions that determine the capability to complete. Moreover, this kind of instability causes a commander to lose confidence and trusts in his subjects; thus, he or she ends up spreading hatred to them instead of motivating and inspiring them to pursue the intended purpose. Notably, the results of such approaches is usually a negative as the leader takes an adverse action which is extreme to prove his worth which, in turns, hurt his followers as it is the case in Othello. Othello likeable heart was filled with jealousy and hatred by Iago's lies (McDonald, 52). As a result, he ended up murdering his loyal subject as well with his beloved wife (McDonald, 52). Worse, he committed suicide after realizing his mistakes when the truth came out (McDonald, 53). It is, therefore, important for leaders to be psychological stable regarding emotion control for them to provide "sober" guidelines towards is achieving the set objectives.
Notably, in the context of comparing Othello and Beowulf of Beowulf, I find both protagonists heroic. In the case of Othello, Othello is the Venetian hero as he leads the great army of Venice despite his black colour. Furthermore, the noble aspect is revealed through his victories in the battlefields. On the same hand, Beowulf is the hero of the Geatland where he wins may war for his country (Kelly, 4). His heroism is revealed in the section where the narrator explains that Beowulf killed a dragon (Kelly, 4). However, I would prefer to be Beowulf's follower that Othello as he was more stable. Othello portrayed his insecurities in many occasions; thus he proved his unfitness to lead (McDonald, 73). His emotions cloud his judgement making him react on rumours without proving their trueness; hence, he ends up making irrational justifications.
In general, Othello advocates that mental stability is more critical than physical leadership. Besides, it presents an individual weak point in which he/she can be poisoned to be filled with resentment to distort the mission operation. Chiefly, a mind that is in excellent condition devoid of psychological disturbances like stress offers intelligent decisions and approach of handling issues.
Carey K. G. & McCulloch H. CliffsNotes on Shakespeare's Othello. IDG Books World Inc., 2000.
Kelly L. R (Ed). Beowulf, an Anglo-Saxon Epic Poem translated by John Lesslie Hall. British Library, 2014
McDonald, Russ. "Othello, Thorello, and the Problem of the Foolish Hero." Shakespeare Quarterly 30.1 (1979): 51-67
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