No Wands Required: Corporate Lessons from Harry Potter Series

Decision-making & Problem-solving 27th January 2017 Workbetter Team

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J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series explores complex human nature and emotions, social hierarchy, moral dilemmas and communication dynamics that quite resonate with the corporate world. There are characters that you can suit-up and puppet in your office settings and you have some obvious lessons staring you right in the face. Here are some takeaways or corporate lessons for everyone in the 9-to-5 office-bound schedule:

Keep your cool

Headmaster Albus Dumbledore gives Harry Potter an assignment of getting some important information from Professor Horace Slughorn. Harry makes half-hearted attempts to get the information. He does put various permutations and combinations to use but doesn’t quite pursue any to the end. Upon checking the progress, Dumbledore gets vague responses from Harry. While he could have easily lost his cool, he doesn’t.
As a leader, he focuses more on why he’s not able to deliver instead of making scathing remarks and losing an opportunity to motivate him. Isn’t that what leaders are supposed to do?

Related: In the Face of Setbacks: 4 Ways to Handle Emotions like Hillary Clinton

Recognize prejudices

Whichever spot you occupy in the hierarchy at work, you shouldn’t be prejudiced and have special preferences. Look at aptitude and competence; don’t be swayed by people of power. You cannot deride people on the basis of your assumption of their lack of skills or an unmatched education or personal background. In the Harry Potter series, we have Hagrid for instance, whose lack of credentials could have disqualified him from teaching Care of Magical Creatures despite his clear gift in handling magical creatures. Do you too have preferences? You must rethink every decision and do what’s in the best interest of the organization instead of doing personal favors based solely on degrees.

Related: Relationship Building at Work When Your Colleague Becomes Your Boss

Identify potential

In the early Harry Potter books, Nevile Longbottom doesn’t seem to get anything right. In one of the classes, he ends up suspending himself from a chandelier, so you can imagine! He clearly lacks confidence and becomes a target of bully and pranks for his clumsiness. However, he emerges as an important character later on. Have you too been blind-eyed to potential? Keep your eyes and ears open. Make maximum use of getting feedback on performance instead of relying on what could be a prejudiced, and skewed opinion.

Related: What The Avengers Teach Us About Teamwork

Stay humble

Don’t we all make mistakes? But how many of us really own it up and seek forgiveness or help and advice to not repeat them or outsmart ourselves the next time on? Very few, isn’t it? In the book, Harry Potter obviously has all the reasons to hate Severus Snape who makes continued disparaging remarks about this young genius of a wizard. However, in the end we see Harry naming his second son after Snape, which is a public revering of sentiment.

Related: Pursuit of Goals: What You Can Learn About Swimming Against the Tide


Why become a lone ranger when you can work as a team and harness each others’ expertise and do quality work. Don’t Harry and Ron depend on Hermione’s textbook knowledge? Would they have made it without the help of Aberforth, Order of the Phoenix, and Dumbledore’s Army? All of us have something to teach and learn from each other. Don’t waste time in being jealous or picking battles when they don’t mean a thing except feeding people’s egos.

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