In this response, I will try to explain how I view Socrates as an ethical leader. First, it is necessary to mention that Plato’s Apology is not a real apology but rather a defense. Socrates did not feel sorry for his actions or words because he believed that he did nothing wrong. However, he defended himself and tried to refute all of the unreasoned accusations presented against him. According to Thomas Jefferson, “Socrates’ speech thus might be translated The Defense of Socrates without the possible confusion over the modern meaning” since today, the word “apologetics” is often used to denote a “system of argued defense.” Therefore, the title of the dialogue should not be interpreted straight forwardly, but rather can be considered as a defense speech. If the title would be changed into a “defense,” the understanding of the text would change significantly. 

After reading Plato’s Apology, I realized that Socrates was a real ethical leader. His way of leadership was quite unusual. Socrates never convinced people that he was wise and intelligent. On the contrary, he always said, “I neither know nor think that I know”. Moreover, unlike other leaders, who might have persuaded their students that they (the leaders) knew everything, while the students were ignorant, Socrates always tried to learn from his followers. What is more interesting, Socrates never told that he was a teacher in a traditional meaning of this term. He said, “As little foundation is there for the report that I am a teacher, and take money; that is no more true than the other”. Socrates was a good leader since he never focused on being a leader. Socrates shared his knowledge with those who wanted to listen to him and never imposed his beliefs on those who did not want to hear them. Besides, Socrates never wrote his thoughts down. When some of his followers wanted to record his ideas, he did not forbid them, neither he ever asked to write them down. In such a way, the philosopher showed his trust and respect for his learners. These qualities are necessary for being a good ethical leader, a person who acts according to generally accepted moral norms and values.  

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In addition, Socrates was a noble man since he never raised his voice at his listeners or tried to accuse them. When Socrates began his speech, he appealed to the people of Athens to explain them that all of the accusations made by his slanderers were unreasonable. I like Socrates’ manner of speech and defense since he showed politeness and justice towards the others. Besides, his refutation was quite rational. He never wanted to hurt anyone since he believed that “it is better to suffer an injustice than commit one”. By acting and thinking in such a way, Socrates proved that he was a perfect leader because he thought not of himself but of the others. 

Another important quality of a good leader is a desire to develop one’s skills and gain knowledge. Socrates stated that he was ignorant: “Whereas I know but little of the world below, I do not suppose that I know”. Thus, when interpreting these words, I think that a person, who believes he/she knows everything, is too opinionated because he/she does not want to improve. A perfect leader tries to improve his/her skills and listens to what others have to say. At the same time, Socrates required others to hear him and do not interrupt, “Do not interrupt, but hear me; there was an agreement between us that you should hear me out”. His demand is quite understandable since he wanted to express his thoughts openly. Moreover, he listened to the others in the same manner, without interrupting them. These features are significant for a good leader because such a leader should be able to hear the others and not ignore their thoughts.  

Socrates was also an honest leader. He never lied but always told the truth: “And don’t be offended at my telling you the truth”. When the jury made accusations, Socrates always gave them honest proofs to defend himself. The philosopher was honest with himself and the others, and this honesty made him a great and respected leader. I think if all leaders were honest, people would trust them and respect them; as a consequence, a harmonious order would be achieved. At the same time, leaders like Socrates usually have many enemies. It happens because most of people associate leadership with power and money but not with honesty and morality. Socrates was a very righteous man, and his behavior aroused hatred. I suppose that the other leaders just envied Socrates because he was a respected and wise man who had never conceived the truth from his learners and shared his thoughts openly. In modern times, such qualities are not encouraged because it is considered that a person who always tells the truth cannot be successful. Probably, it often happens this way; however, I think that today people need such righteous and noble leaders as Socrates. 

Plato’s Apology was not an easy reading for me. Socrates gave me a moral lesson and showed me an example of how the real leader should behave. His commitment to his beliefs and views was one more feature of a good ethical leader. Most of all, I liked the way he accepted death. The man was so generous that he preferred to die rather than to be unrighteous and lie to himself and the others. The reason why Socrates was not afraid of death was the fact that he did not know whether death was bad or good. The other punishments, such as fine or imprisonment, seemed not right and immoral because they meant obedience to the untruthful law and self-betrayal. Socrates could not commit such a wrong deed, and he accepted the jury’s sentence. Again, he showed his dedication to his virtues and moral values and never betrayed them. Many people would just lie and tell everything to save themselves from a death sentence, but Socrates was different. 

The reading reminded me of Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, in which the citizens of Salem were accused of being witches or having relationships with the evil powers, and those who wanted to save their lives were to confess these words to be true. Many people were so afraid of death that they said everything to be saved from death. The others continued to say that they were not witches and had nothing to do with evil, which led to death penalty. These people did not want to imbrue their reputation and admit untruthful accusations, and they chose to be sentenced. Although The Crucible is not about ethical leadership, but it is similar to Plato’s Apology, since it shows how the pressure from the above can break or, in case of Socrates, not break human power of will. Thus, Socrates proved to be a man with an adamantine will, which characterizes him as a real leader.

Plato’s Apology demonstrates the best qualities of an ethical leader – honesty, strength of will, commitment to one’s beliefs, wisdom, and desire of self-development. Socrates was a man who told what he thought and never lied. He inspired the others to discover the world from a different perspective and not to be led by public opinion. Socrates was a good leader because he did not impose his views on his followers but just shared his thoughts with them openly. I think if he was a bad leader, his philosophy would not be recorded, and no one would know about him today. In Socrates’ era, there were no computers and sound recorders, and the learners had to take all of the notes manually. It proves that Socrates’ philosophy of ethical leadership was so important that his followers continued his work even after his death, and we can read his studies today.

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