Yes I’m a Hogwarts nerd and Albus Dumbledore is my hero. But even the biggest Harry Potter cynics out there cannot argue with Dumbledore’s infinite wisdom. There are countless Dumbledore quotes from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels that double as life lessons but below are 5 that I have selected as mantras for your workplace. The secret to a strong team with a unified vision, great communication and a rock-solid leader? Keep reading. Dumbledore would like to say a few words on the subject (other than ‘Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!’).
1) “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided”
We’ve all heard the saying ‘a chain is only as strong as its weakest link’. A team in the workplace needs to have a united approach to everything they do. Yes we all have individual tasks to complete and deadlines to complete them by. But someone once said to me that we shouldn’t build silos in the workplace. Communication, communication, communication! A workplace should be constantly checking that everyone is on the same page. Make sure your workplace lines up with your values, otherwise how can you be united with a group of people who are working towards a vision that you don’t believe in?
2) “It is a curious thing but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it”
Even the most united team needs a strong leader. I have worked under many leaders so far in my working life, but by far the best leaders have been the ones who found themselves in leadership roles because they were quite simply the best person for the job. Often, they were not looking to be in a position of power. A good leader should understand their team well and lead by example. The ivory tower approach often results in a team who don’t feel connected to their manager and a leader who is completely out of touch with their team. Leaders – get your hands dirty. Be part of the team rather than operating separately to them.
3) “Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open”
‘Wow, I have so much in common with everyone I work with! We’re just all so similar, it’s like we’ve been friends our whole lives!’ said nobody EVER. Okay it’s possible that some people might feel a little like this, although my experience has been that you usually have to work with people who are very different from you. We’re all unique individuals, with different backgrounds and life experiences. We speak differently, think and feel differently. We’re human after all. The key to a cohesive team is not to have the same habits and likes/dislikes, but to have the same professional aims and to keep an open mind about other people’s contributions. We all have useful things to offer and working in a team, although challenging (a lot of the time), can produce innovative ideas that are bigger than any one individual in the team.
4) “Soon we must all face the choice between what is right, and what is easy”
The easy path is not always the right path. Making a decision between what is right and what is easy often comes down to a person’s values, ethics and the organisation’s expectations. Sure we don’t always need to fret over choices that are made from day-to-day. But occasionally we are all faced with ethical dilemmas and need to make tough decisions. Let your values guide you on this one. Put things into perspective and listen to your intuition.
5) “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live”
This last one is more of a personal mantra. In order to be a great team member you need to have your personal life sorted too. It’s about making sure that you set realistic goals for yourself that are challenging but achievable. It’s about keeping your feet planted firmly on the ground while allowing yourself to think big. Having dreams is important, but when you lose yourself in them and lose touch with reality then they become roadblocks to achieving your goals. Someone once told me that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. But they were wrong. There are things that I will never be able to do. But there are also things that I’m really good at and things that I want to be better at. So I try to work on my weaknesses and focus on my strengths. But I will never be an Olympic swimmer. That much is clear.