Leadership Development Through The Study Of The Ancient World

Rawlonda Arthur
7 min readSep 24, 2020

I read Leadership Development through the study of the Ancient and Modern World, on Saturday September 19th at 4:35 pm and these were my responses.

Unfortunately, in the world we live in today, anybody and everyone is judged and critiqued based on how they look, how they carry themselves , and how advanced they are in society. Five scenarios which researchers have identified as ones that increase our tendency to dehumanize another person or group is ; when we have power over them, when we have harmed them , when we have witnessed them being harmed , when we were guard them as a member of an out group (“not one of us”), and when we regard them as physically disgusting. I have done this before, I believe everyone has walked down the street or in the subway and have seen people cover their nose and scrunch up their face at homeless people. It doesn’t matter if there was an odor to them or not, the thought of seeing someone that is not accepted by society disgust them. But the reality is anyone can become homeless.

When Philocetes brought up the idea that all human destiny is full of fear that prosperity follows I instantly thought of homeless people. People judge and critique homeless people but you never know the reason or the situation that caused that. My mom always taught me to never judge someone based on their situation because that could easily be you. There are some doctors and lawyers that are homeless, families that just lived in houses on the streets because the provider of that family was just let go from their job. You really never know which is why I never understood how people could judge the next person instead of helping them come up .

Even in high school I have witnessed people being made fun of and bullied because of how they dress or what kind of shoes they had on, or do they have enough designer on ? I used to be disgusted by how people treated others because of their appearance , exactly why I naturally gravitated towards the dorks ,nerds ,and geeks. To me they were regular people who did not get swept up by social norms which is why I liked them. You get tired of walking down school hallways and the first thing a person looks at is your feet. It makes you wonder if all relationships and friendships only have to do with helping one’s social image.

Don’t misunderstand me though, one’s appearance and how they carry themselves can gravitate a certain crowd. For instance, a teenager with new sneakers in a nice car will be accepted into a friend group wayy quicker than someone who wears Skechers, has braces and glasses , and has naps in his hair. In my opinion the way to have someone’s humanity become visible to them is by helping them see and value they’re worth. From personal experience I know that usually the way someone carries themselves is based on how they view themselves. When I was younger I did not care about how I looked nor how I was viewed and my outfit choices prove that. Now I look back and often say, “why did you let me walk out the house like that ? Did y’all care about me?” lol . I say that now that I care and take more pride in my appearance . I don’t think activating one’s sense of shame is the way to go because most likely the person won’t care and doesn’t have a sense of shame .

Philoctetes becomes humanized in the eyes of Neoptolemus and the audience in a number of ways. He participates extensively in the guest-host relationship (xenia), esp. when he meets Neoptolemus, he has several ties of friendship with others (esp. Heracles) and he shows concern for his friends and comrades at Troy. He also speaks and values the Greek language, which bonds him to an in-group and demonstrates remarkable agency and resourcefulness in his ten-year survival on the Island of Lemnos. He articulates the acute and very human pain, outrage, and loneliness anyone would likely feel in his situation. When he appeals to Neoptolemus to take him home, he articulates this pain as something any human could experience. Lastly, he is destined to play a crucial role in the Greek victory in the Trojan War and has his destiny proclaimed by Heracles.

While I was reading, I took notes that I thought were important, especially in the passage audio listens. In passage one, in particular the central conflict of the play emerged. Odysseus’ agenda was to use Neoptolemus as an instrument not to help his leadership development. Odysseus tells Neoptolemus to lie about his identity to Philocetes and tells him to say that he is the son of Achilles. He gives his “mentee” a clear and specific set of instructions to effectively carry out the behaviors that are necessary for him to get Philocetes bow. However, Neoptolemus was to noble to just go along with the idea, so Odysseus appeals to Neoptolemus’s emotions to convince and persuade him to go along with his plan. This is what you call cold empathy, the ability to have a scientific understanding of feelings of others, but not feel these emotions and feelings themselves. Odysseus demonstrates psychopathic leadership, and that kind of baffled me so I decided to do more research on psychopathic leaders. Psychopathic traits include callousness, displaying a lack of empathy and emotions (particularly with feelings like shame and guilt), and possessing a “grandiose sense of self worth,” according to psychology today.

When you hear the word psychopath you immediately connect it with a negative connotation. However, I learned that psychopathy is linked to genetics and neurology and occurs in various degrees. Almost everyone you meet on a day to day basis may have some genes of a psychopath but The difference between them and psychopathic killers is that usually most can switch off all the negative qualities of psychopathy at will such as ; aggression, carelessness, coldheartedness , while maintaining the positive qualities, such as charisma. So even if you possess qualities similar to psychopaths, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re destined to become a cold blooded serial killer.

Psychopaths on the extreme end of the spectrum lack one of the most important qualities to strong and effective leadership, empathy. If you can’t relate to others and don’t have a high degree of emotional intelligence, you’re not in a good position to guide other people . But if you’re on the less extreme end of the psychopath spectrum, you can still exhibit empathy while also possessing psychopathic qualities that present an advantage in terms of leadership. According to Elite daily, Teddy Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all possessed psychopathic characteristics. Scott Lilienfeld, professor of psychology at Emory University, led a study that assessed the personalities and rated the performances of US presidents. Ultimately, the research revealed presidents were more successful when they possessed fearless dominance , a quality frequently attributed to psychopaths.

Additionally, while I was researching there was something that caught my attention. Apparently, men with psychopathic tendencies are slightly more likely to become leaders, and they are rated higher in perceived leadership effectiveness. In contrast, women with psychopathic tendencies are rated as less effective leaders. The results suggest that “concern over psychopathic tendencies in organizational leaders may be overblown, but that gender can function to obscure real effects.”

In class on Thursday September 17th, in class my classmates and I were put into groups and answered the following questions and these were some of our responses. What would your school need to do to train students to perform the behaviors well? Also , the types of teachers, the kinds of assignments, the methods of grading, and what the final project would ensure that each student learned the given behavior? At this school how would students learn to overcome any dehumanizing stereotypes that discouraged them or hindered them from achieving their mission?

The type of teacher that would best facilitate exercises would have to be someone holding a high position within the institution such as an administrator. It must be someone who has experience in leadership positions. Also the teachers would have to be both open minded and from a wide range of backgrounds, so the school as a whole isn’t promoting an idealized version of conflict resolution, etc. Assignments that bring out those aspects or attributes within the group’s personalities could be personality tests, personal surveys, etc. The method of grading would have to be nontraditional due to the fact that you can’t really judge someone’s personal feelings or individuality accurately. There is no set rubric for something like that. Students will figure out how to develop a shared sense of mission by having a mandatory class every year, dedicated to learning about major conflicts throughout history, both political and social (World War 1, the Peloponnesian Wars, gays rights movement etc). This class would also have projects where kids would discuss and figure out the best way to solve the conflicts.. There would be two forms of grading, one would be general quizzes on the facts behind different conflicts, and the second would be a project grade. After finishing learning about each conflict, groups would be tasked with coming up with in depth solutions to the conflicts, with everything from subtle political strategy to war tactics, and the the class would play out the conflict, with gives each group the chance to enact their resolution, and their final grade would be a combination of peer reviews of how well they think the resolution would work and the teacher’s grading on how well they put together their resolution/how much work was put into it.

Lastly, identification of the dehumanizing stereotypes is essential to overcoming and redefining the way one is perceived. Self reflection is an important step because with a clear list of the ways you feel discouraged and the stereotypes that cause you to feel this way allows you to go forward with addressing the issues at hand. Additionally, breaking down and understanding why stereotypes exist and are still prevalent in society is also an important step. We overpower the stereotypes and stigmas and become confident in who we are and use it to our advantage. Stereotypes exist because we as humans like to label and categorize things that we are unfamiliar with. Stereotypes often inaccurately represent the one being stereotyped, so it’s important for students to understand that those stereotypes do not define them: they define themselves with their actions.

--

--