Harry Potter and the Colors of Leadership
Last week I saw one of the top films released this Holiday season, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I loved every second of it! Nothing is better than nostalgia to get you right in the feels. Growing up, I was obsessed with Harry Potter. I was the same age as Harry when the Sorcerer’s Stone came out in the US (1998). I’m still waiting for my Hogwarts letter, by the way… but I digress. Since then, I’ve taken every online Sorting Hat quiz (like this one from playbuzz.com) . I led my house to victory in the Y camp version of the House Cup Tournament (two years in a row). I’m too old to go to Hogwarts now. I’m “all grown up” and I spend my days making magic (coffee) happen around our Brooklyn coworking space. After I saw Fantastic Beasts I started thinking of how Harry Potter could help the employees here at BCL understand each other in the workplace and function better as a team.
I know, it sounds bananas, but hear me out! Workplace psychologists have long recognized different people have different leadership styles– all with their own benefits and challenges. Like any human system, these differences in leadership styles can be complementary or conflicting, depending on how a company deals with them. Generally speaking, there are four “leadership colors”, which correspond to different leadership styles. And, as I was looking over the characteristics of these colors/styles, I realized that they correspond with the houses at Hogwarts. Now, I am not a psychologist, but I am really into Harry Potter so here’s how I see it breaking down.
Gryffindors are courageous and act on impulse or “gut-feelings”. They require stimulation, freedom and excitement. They are natural leaders, gifted performers, and strong public speakers. They enjoy group projects and using tools. They like competition and bounce back quickly from loss. They value action and are also generous and charming.
At work, your Gryffindor team member prefers fast moving, action oriented, concrete, and challenging tasks. They welcome and instigate change. Highly energetic, Gryffindor brings the fun to the team!
On a bad day, Gryffindors can be self-righteous, arrogant, rude, and defiant. They may break the rules intentionally, run away, lie, cheat, or become physically aggressive.
Make the best possible use of your Gryffindor team member by allowing their personalities to shine! Give them physically engaging jobs and allow them to make presentations. Gryffindors make excellent salespeople. Gryffindors work well in small bursts, but need focus time with minimal distractions. Allow them structured time to zero in on tasks that require sharp focus, broken up with less urgent, physical tasks (like fixing a squeaky door, running an errand, etc.)
Hufflepuffs are compassionate, encouraging, and supporting. They are the peacekeepers, sensitive to the needs of others. They have a strong desire to contribute, are poetic and enjoy the arts. They are enthusiastic, friendly, idealistic, communicative, and sympathetic. They are patient, loyal, honest, and fair.
At work, Hufflepuffs prefer warm, inviting, and interactive team environments. They are imaginative, insightful, and creative. They foster cooperation, have tremendous empathy and are highly intuitive. Hufflepuffs want everyone to get along and are great mediators.
On a bad day, your Hufflepuff team member tends to be attention getting. They may lie to “save face” or become withdrawn. They often fantasize, day-dream or zone out. When challenged, they may become flustered. They could cry or yell but more often than not, your Hufflepuff team member is a master of passive aggression.
One of the best possible ways to use your Hufflepuff team member is to call them in when there is conflict. Hufflepuffs can easily diffuse the situation and come up with ways for everyone to leave feeling like they got their way. Your Hufflepuff team member is artistic and has a soft side, so they are happiest with creative, visual or design based projects. Set clear expectations for them, and give them plenty of time before their deadlines.
Slytherins are conventional. They are pillars of strength and have high respect for authority. They like to establish and maintain policies, procedures, and schedules. They have a strong sense of right and wrong. They are hyper organized and believe that work comes before play. They’re resourceful, ambitious, and calculated. Its rare to find a Slytherin who wouldn’t think before they acted.
At work, Slytherins bring dependability and stability to the group. They respect values and tradition and will work hard to conserve them. Slytherins get a bad rap, but there are no bad or evil houses at Hogwarts, nor are there bad or impossible team members! Slytherins just have a lot of school spirit!
On a bad day, Slytherins tend to whine or be pitiful. They have anxiety and worry a lot. They feel tired, can feel sick (oftentimes it’s psychosomatic), and they can make malicious judgements.
To get the most out of your Slytherin team member, occupy their time with tasks that require loads of organization. They prefer hard deadlines and have a “get-it-done-now” attitude. But never fear, your Slytherin team member will always get it done correctly as well. Let them take the reigns on project calendars and schedules.
Ravenclaws are conceptual and have investigative minds. They are independent thinkers, natural nonconformists, and live life to their own standards. One might call them eccentric. They’re problem solvers and strategists. They value knowledge, intelligence, and justice. They always seek to learn more and are cool, calm, collected. They do not express emotion easily.
At work, Ravenclaws are visionaries and need to see the big picture. They like brainstorming and bringing about change based on knowledge, information, and logic. They are creative, but will only bring well thought out ideas to the team.
On a bad day, your Ravenclaw team member can be sarcastic, overly critical, extremely aloof, or withdrawn. They may give the silent treatment and can sometimes refuse to comply or cooperate.
Ravenclaws are all about innovation, so to make them feel valued at work, give them space to innovate! Give them tasks that involve improving or changing old systems or programs. Stuck with something? Ask a Ravenclaw to solve the riddle. Ravenclaws love riddles!
Unless you actually go to Hogwarts, it’s unlikely that you will find yourself on a team with a group of individuals with the exact same work styles as you. This is why it’s so important for us to understand how we all function best in team settings. The more we seek to understand, the better and more productive we will be!
“Create Your Personal Leadership Development Plan.” The Discover Your True North Fieldbook (2015): 199-218. Bonner Network. Pbworks. Web. 21 Dec. 2016.
Geiger, Eric. “Four Leadership Personalities: What Color Are You?” Eric Geiger. N.p., 24 Sept. 2015. Web. 21 Dec. 2016.
“Leadership Styles and Required Attributes.” Effective Team Leadership for Engineers (n.d.): 35-50. Web. 21 Dec. 2016.
Smith, Savala. “The Colors of Leadership: Integrating Different Styles in Your Organization.” Campus Activities Programming (2005): 74-77. The University of Nevada, Reno. UNR, 2005. Web. 21 Dec. 2016.