What Dumbledore can teach us about leadership, inspiration and empowering others

“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, are our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.”

A fictional character he is but much loved is Albus Dumbledore, the resident legendary professor of the Harry Potter series’ wizarding world.

With what seems like the ability to say the right thing at the right moment. Dumbledore has taught children and adults alike many lessons on leadership, inspiring and empowering others. Personally, I’m not a fan of the Potter series, but I appreciate and recognise good storytelling. And, the character of Albus Dumbledore has always intrigued me.

His wisdom (as projected by the books and films) seemed to know no bounds. Dumbledore in many ways was a leader, coach and student (yes, always learning even when you’re 1000 + years old) who was navigating the experiences around him as well as he could.

Dumbledore always struck me as an aspirational leadership figure as he was not without his flaws and he would openly admit this to those who looked to guidance from him. 

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Although Dumbledore was hailed as the greatest Wizard in living memory and one bestowed with enormous talents. He had the self awareness to recognise that regardless of his abilities, it is within the choices he makes that will show his true nature. 

A valuable lesson for all of us to learn is that we are more than a list of abilities on a piece of paper. It could be said that ultimately, it is our choices that define us in this life. So, we would be wise to heed this advice and reflect on the choices we make.

“The best of us sometimes eat our words.” 

Even though he is at the top of the food chain in his profession. Dumbledore always showed humility in any environment. He was very aware that people looked to him, even relied upon him to guide them and say the right thing. Yet, he was not foolish to think that everything he said would be the ultimate truth or right thing.

He was open and vulnerable in the fact that he was just like everyone else. He could make mistakes and he did well to remind others of that fact. Vulnerability in leadership is tough to find as many are worried about how it makes them look to others. However, displaying vulnerability in the right way can show others that you don’t see yourself as some sort of higher power that can do no wrong but rather just another human trying to do the right thing.

“The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.”

As a celebrated leader with almost a godlike reputation, it’s easy to fall into the realm of thinking you can predict the future too. But, this was not the way for Dumbledore, he chose to be a realist in trying not to predict any future events.

The future will arrive and we will meet it with the experience we have acquired up to that point. The choices we make will shape our future but how they will play out is anyone’s guess. All we can do is navigate whatever life throws at us and adapt as and where needed.

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow up to be.”

Like most leaders and people we look to, we want them to have the ability to empower others to do great things. In Dumbledore, we find someone who lived his life in service of empowering others to be the best they can be and do things that perhaps even they didn’t believe would be possible.

Throughout the course of his time in the wizarding world, Dumbledore saw the potential in those around him and tried in the right moments to nurture that and help those people believe in the enormity of the possible.

Knowing how and when to empower others is key in not only the personal journey of a leader but also for those around to know that you trust them and that you wish to see them grow. 

Key lessons for everyone

  • Choices show who we really are.
  • You don’t know everything and that’s ok.
  • You have the power to affect someone with just words, so be thoughtful.
  • No-one can predict the future so don’t torture yourself trying to do it.
  • Everyone has potential, they just need some help in recognising and unlocking it.
  • Try to help those that come after you as those who came before you helped you.
  • We may all come from different walks of life, but we are all human.

“Though we may come from different places, and speak in different tongues, our hearts beat as one.”

(Credit for icons goes to Ozza Okuonghae, Lukas Jaca and Made x Made at Noun Project. Quotes from the Harry Potter series are copyrighted to J.K Rowling)


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