What does it take to be a leader of others? What are some of the qualities that we look for in someone we wish to follow in tough situations? Personally, I would list strength, courage, tenacity, common sense and honesty among those attributes. In previous blog articles, I have also touched on the “Seven Army Values,” and the acronym for them; “LDRSHIP.”
Jo Rowling seems to have contemplated this same question at some point, the result being a character that espouses the finest traditions of what it takes to be a leader. In our search for paragons of leadership, we see a shining example in Harry Potter. In JK Rowling’s seven book series, we follow the story arc of the life of young Harry, as he grows from age 10 to adulthood, meeting a plethora of challenges along the way to defeating his arch-nemesis, Lord Voldemort. In this article, I’ll be presenting to you, my fine young readers, some specific examples of how Harry Potter displays leadership values. So, without further adieu…
- Loyalty: Throughout the series, Harry Potter remains loyal to not only his close friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Grainger, but to his school, Hogwarts and to the wizard he knows little about, but instinctively knows he can trust; Albus Dumbledore. In the second novel, “Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets,” Harry shows loyalty to Dumbledore while engaging Tom Riddle down in the chamber. In the fifth book, “Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix,” Neville Longbottom asks Harry not to divulge the fact that his parents, Frank and Alice Longbottom were in St. Mungo’s, having been driven to insanity by being tortured with the Cruciatus curse by Bellatrix Lestrange. Harry honors this request.
- Duty: On many occasions, Harry is either specifically given a task to accomplish, or discovers that to “put things right,” he must take on the mantle of proactivity. In each instance, Harry’s tenacity and sense of duty can be witnessed in action. In the first novel, “Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone,” Harry works together with Ron and Hermione to navigate the several hazards between them, and safeguarding / rescuing the stone from Quirrell, who incidentally is doubling as a human host for Voldemort.
- Respect: In the world of Harry Potter, there are characters other than humans which wizards would normally view with a certain degree of disdain, such as Elves and Goblins. In book two, “Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets,” Harry encounters Dobby, the much-maligned house elf belonging to the Malfoy family. In contrast to the manner in which Dobby is usually treated, Harry instead treats Dobby with a degree of care, concern and respect, even going so far as to “free” the house elf through the “bamboozling” of Lucius Malfoy. When Dobby is subsequently killed by Bellatrix Lestrange in the final book, “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows,” Harry gives a fine example of this respect, by insisting on giving Dobby a proper burial, without the use of magic, and only by the sweat of his brow.
- Selfless Service: On several occasions throughout the series, Harry Potter places his own life lower on the list of priorities than accomplishment of the mission. To this end, in the seventh and final installment of the series, “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows,” Harry willingly goes into the Dark Forest to give up his own life, so that things might be “put right” and to facilitate the defeat of Lord Voldemort.
- Honor: As we can see in the entire story arc of Harry’s life, he always tries his best to do the right thing, even in the face of adversity.
- Integrity: In book five, “Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix,” even in the face of torture by Dolores Umbridge, Harry would not cave in in his adherence to the truth of the Dark Lord’s return.
- Personal Courage: This value is closely tied to the value of Selfless Service. As stated above, Harry often encounters situations where justifiable fear would otherwise prevent him from accomplishing the mission, up to and including the fear of death itself. Harry Potter faces these fears in the finest manner, and in the end prevails.
By the time and events of the fifth book, “Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix,” the other students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry can see that Harry is a capable leader. Together with a number of these students, Harry forms “Dumbledore’s Army” so that the others can learn the skills that Harry possesses, in order to aid in the eventual defeat of Lord Voldemort, JK Rowling’s literary personification of evil.
It is paramount to note at this point, that Harry Potter is the antithesis of his rival, Tom Riddle / Lord Voldemort. They are diametrically opposed in their nature. While Lord Voldemort commands allegiance through fear, lies and hatred, Harry Potter is freely given the allegiance of others, due to his inherent qualities of love, courage and honesty. In closing, I would say that Jo Rowling has provided her readers with an excellent example of what it takes to be a true leader.