How Literature Informs Notions of Leadership

Novels, short stories, plays, and poetry can help us understand the character traits, abilities, and contexts of leadership in ways that didactic methods cannot. I present examples of the use of literature in its several forms to stimulate thought and discussion and to enrich the understanding of the characteristics and dynamics of leadership. I consider the character traits of honesty, courage, adherence to principles, respect, ego, humility, calmness, and perseverance, and the abilities to listen, to select good people, and to know oneself. I also identify some of the conditions and contexts of leadership, such as chance, environment, interdependence, and the roles of heroes, mentors, and peers. These examples from literature are not intended to be authoritative but rather illustrative, with the intent that they will encourage others to seek and use their own examples in the process of understanding leadership and becoming good leaders.