Three Leadership Lessons from The Hobbit

Source: Wikipedia

Last night was date night with my daughter.  We finally went to see The Hobbit and thoroughly enjoyed our journey to Middle-earth.

In addition to amazing scenery, battles against evil and miraculous rescue from near death, the movie also included some interesting leadership lessons.

When Gandalf was asked why he included Bilbo Baggins, a rather unlikely member of a team facing perilous danger in their quest to reclaim the dwarves stolen home, he responded  ” Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? That’s because I am afraid and it gives me courage.”

Leadership lessons:

  1. Recognize you are not invincible and include people on your team that can help address your weakness.
  2. Look beyond the obvious solutions and be brave enough to make decisions others don’t understand and may not agree with.  Be prepared to answer the “why” when it comes, but don’t let the fear of the “why” stop you.

In another scene early on in the movie, Bilbo Baggins is decidedly reluctant to leave the comfort of his home, his books and his shire.  His youthful dreams of adventure have been replaced by a love of doilies, a stocked pantry and his mother’s good dishes.  Gandalf reminds Bilbo of his much younger self, a hobbit who raced through the shire in search of adventure, who was constantly late for dinner and wouldn’t have been able to tell a doily from a dish rag (Those of you that have seen the movie will recognize that reference!) and tells Bilbo “The world is not in your book and maps. It’s out there!”  And in the end, Bilbo decides to go on this unexpected journey and his world is changed.

Leadership lesson #3: Look for hidden potential.  Encourage, support and perhaps sometimes even push a little, to get team members outside of their comfort zone. Provide them opportunities to be better than they may believe they can be.

Fortunately, most of us do not need to ask our team members to take on challenges that will pull them away from family and friends for long periods of time.  The monsters we ask them to face are deadlines, new learning and personal fears and insecurities instead of orcs, goblins and trolls.   Whatever the quest, whatever the goal, as a leader it is our responsibility to help our team be successful.

Your thoughts?