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7 valuable leadership lessons from Albus Dumbledore

Varsha Roysam
2nd Dec 2016
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“… perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it.”

Fair warning: Potterhead alert!

As a millennial, I was introduced to the Harry Potter series at the right time, and at the right age. Since then, it has become for me what comfort food is for people. But as a teenager, I obviously didn’t pay close attention to the wise words of Albus Dumbledore which are only now resonating in all their relevance. The tall, twinkle-eyed, silver haired Dumbledore was a figure that communicated the calm much needed during a calamity and a sturdy pillar’s reliability. JK Rowling, through Dumbledore, has created a near perfect leader (near, only because I’m refraining from being too biased. But too late for that) without whom the world of Harry Potter would have crumbled from hollowness.

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Here are some leadership lessons from the half-moon bespectacled man that everyone can benefit from.

Always stand by your team

There have been numerous times when Dumbledore has demonstrated this. During both times that Hagrid was sent away to Azkaban, Dumbledore ensured that his name was cleared and that he was sent back to Hogwarts. Ever since his expulsion from Hogwarts, many fingers were pointed at Hagrid, and Dumbledore’s trust in him questioned. But Dumbledore disregarded such opinions and continued to house Hagrid in the premises of Hogwarts, giving him the respect he deserved.

Dumbledore hired Remus Lupin to teach at Hogwarts despite hushed opposition for the fact that he was a Werewolf. Lupin himself was hesitant to take up the offer. Dumbledore, however, didn’t hesitate to demonstrate his stance on the matter and communicated clearly that he didn’t see anything wrong in the matter.

Give your team the leeway they deserve

Dumbledore was never one to intimidate and impose restrictions (McGonagall clearly took care of that). At the end of Harry’s second year, after he and Ron killed the basilisk, Dumbledore confronted them – “I seem to remember telling you both that I would have to expel you if you broke any more school rules…Which only goes to show that the best of us must sometimes eat our words.” – followed by a smile and that characteristic twinkle in the eye. More importantly, he cancelled all exams for the entire school as a “school treat”. Now that is what makes a leader loved by all.

Take a hit for the team

In Order of the Phoenix, when Umbridge is tipped off about the activities of Dumbledore’s Army (DA) and found the list of members titled so, she immediately contacted the Minister of Magic. Dumbledore, in order to protect Harry and the other students, took full responsibility for it and was forced to leave the school as a result. Dumbledore made sacrifices such as this through the entire series for the greater good of others. For a leader, there is no better lesson to learn.

Trust your team

Dumbledore never hesitated for a moment before trusting his people with responsibility. Even a small gesture such as passing on the invisibility cloak to Harry in his first year, despite knowing that it would never assist an honest task, spoke volumes. He trusted Hagrid with many a crucial information and tasks, despite his clumsiness (and the fact that Hagrid always spilled the beans to the trio). Finally, he trusted Harry to find and destroy all Horcruxes. This is an important lesson for a leader – to delegate a task, you must first train and then trust.

Be assertive and firm when you need to

In Half Blood Prince, Dumbledore and Snape had many arguments about Dumbledore’s request that Snape be the one to kill him when the time came. Snape implored and then protested, but Dumbledore didn’t sway in his decision. A leader, like him, must have the strength to stand by their decision when the time comes to test it. It is the only way they can be reliable.

Leaders make mistakes, too

Even the best of them are only human. In Goblet of Fire, Dumbledore completely missed the fact that Mad-Eye Moody was really an imposter, Barty Crouch Jr. When Dumbledore, whom nothing gets past, can make such a blunder, no mere human has anything to fret about. Dumbledore was also regretful about not believing that Sirius Black was an innocent man. In this case, however, he realised his mistake in time and made amends to save Black’s life.

Always be composed

This is the essence of Dumbledore’s character. No matter how grave the situation, he always maintained a calmness that projected to everyone around – even to the reader. Composure such as his, asserts its presence, and demands attention and respect. A leader is someone that people follow and with this quality, heads will always be turned up to that person. Dumbledore was such a person – a leader in every inch of his personality and in every flick of his finger.

JK Rowling may have weaved a personality that may be too perfect to replicate. But Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore (gave you a fair warning) is a wonderful vision, nonetheless, of what a true leader looks like. RIP old man.

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