Archisha Tripurneni is currently studying for her A-Levels at the London Academy of Excellence in Stratford. She is part of the Oxford Character Project’s Year 12 Leadership Initiative.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore — a name that is as multi-faceted as his character. Over the years, as Dumbledore’s many faces have been studied, a list of descriptors have queued up to take their place next to J. K. Rowling’s wizard headmaster of Hogwarts: wise, manipulative (he isn’t all good), courageous, selfish, teacher, brother… The list goes on. There is one word in particular that I want to focus on here: leader.
Was Dumbledore truly a good leader?
‘It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our ability.’ Dumbledore’s words reflect his character. Dumbledore chose to dedicate his life to defeating Voldermort in order to benefit everyone else. Dumbledore chose to use his wisdom and leadership skills in order to serve other people by bringing down dark magic. Dumbledore chose not to use his powers for selfish motivations but for the greater good. A leader is not defined by their abilities, because everyone on this planet possesses abilities unique to them. A leader is defined by their choice to step up, think selflessly, and serve others. Dumbledore may have made wrong choices in his past, however he was able to reform and become the leader so many characters looked up to. A leader is bound to make mistakes. What sets apart a good leader from a bad leader is their ability to acknowledge the errors, rectify them and grow through them.
‘Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!’ Dumbledore is admirably eccentric. He leads with originality. More than once, he had been implored to take on the role of Minister of Magic, but he chose not to. He found that he was a better leader as a headmaster and preferred working for the greater good than conforming to the political requirements that were pressed onto him. It is important for leaders to understand their own self before they attempt to lead others, leaders must think for themselves in order to produce innovative ideas that will improve society, and develop whatever vision they are trying to manufacture. Dumbledore’s ability to think for himself allows him to see the potential in his followers that others may not have seen and therefore helps to provide them opportunities to develop those qualities. For example, he sees the talent Snape has to conjure potions and sees a a way that Snape’s powers of deception might be turned to the good’; he asks Snape to spy for him imposing that his identity is that of a Death Eater (Voldermort’s followers). Leaders who think for themselves can see the hidden potential in the people they are leading and this helps the team to work together whilst simultaneously allowing the people to personally develop.
‘Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.’ Lastly, Dumbledore has an astonishing ability to empathize with others and truly understand how people feel emotionally. Using this, he is able to connect with other characters, gain their trust and build a relationship with them, uniting people to fight against the forces of dark magic. A leader who is able to identify the emotions their group feels is thereby able to tackle negative emotions and also understands how to maintain conditions that result in positive emotions. A leader who can empathize is far more able to connect with group members, building a team where everyone feels valued and are able to productively make use of their own talents and skills.
In conclusion, Dumbledore possesses crucial qualities that distinguish him as a great leader. We as people are growing constantly; we want to develop as leaders. We too are more than likely to feel our share of pain in life and make our portion of mistakes. But it is our choice to rise from those moments, learn and thrive. It is in our control to think critically and for ourselves, being cautious with resources and governing our trust. It is our time that we give to empathize with people, connect with people and learn to think selflessly. It is our choice to be the change we want to see.