This past week many of us have seen the last installment in the Harry Potter movie series. Rowling’s magical story-telling gave us lots to think about for many years. While the movies are intended primarily as entertainment, we thought it would be fun to look back into what Harry Potter has taught us about leadership.
Humility is a major underlying theme in all 7 Harry Potter books. From the moment he was born, Harry was famous and deemed a hero for thwarting the villainous Voldemort from taking over the world. It wasn’t until he was introduced into the wizarding world at 13 that he knew of his fame. From that time, Harry is given constant attention, praise, and ridicule for his popularity. But rather than boasting about his greatness, Harry consistently tended to disregard the conventional wisdom and view himself as the orphan from underneath the stairs.
In leadership, it is tempting to believe that you have superior abilities to others. We can easily think highly of ourselves, and believe our success has resulted from our own merit, hard work, and dedication. However, truly great leaders utilize their strengths in order to serve those around them and help them achieve their own goals, while working toward the common good. They also hesitate to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about themselves.
Teamwork is another key aspect of the Harry Potter series that J.K. Rowling highlights. It’s repeated over and over again in each book that Harry wants nothing more than to perform the tasks and achieve the goals he set for himself. Once again it was for selfless reasons, as Harry sought to keep his friends from risking their own lives to save him. Even so, none of the major achievements would have been possible without the help he received from his friends.
No matter how much we try, we can never do a job as well as we could with the collaboration of others. Teamwork is critical in both getting multiple perspectives on an issue, and covering all the bases via individual strengths and talents of team members.
Strategy and goals , especially in the last book, were emphasized in the final development of the characters. The trio’s objective to defeat Lord Voldemort was clearly defined and well thought out. The destruction of the horcruxes represented a long-term goal the team sought to achieve, rather than just going headstrong into battle against the man himself. Not only did he execute the plans well, but Harry was able to use his knowledge and limited resources under pressure when things didn’t go according to plan.
It’s imperative that as leaders we are able to set stimulating yet achievable goals for our selves, our company, and those for whom we are responsible for. When the pressure becomes insurmountable, we as leaders must be able to take action and responsibility no matter the outcome. Then, we are wise to evaluate what has happened and what we can learn from the experience.
So there are some valuable lessons that I have taken from the Harry Potter series. I leave you with a quote from Albus Dumbledore – one more lesson for leaders:
“It is our choices that show what we truly are, not our abilities”