Leadership lessons from Moby-DIck


These posts are leadership/management lessons drawn from the novel Moby-Dick. Or, maybe it should be something more waggish such as Leadership Lessons from Captain Ahab. Either way, they’re intended to be both informative and a bit cheeky.

There are terrific leadership lessons from Moby-Dick because Melville has created a splendid range of different kinds of leaders in his great novel.

Sure, there’s Ahab himself, as everyone knows. Yet, even if we just stick with that archetypal captain, he see that he displays some great leadership qualities as well as his well-known tragic ones.

Still, there are various other leaders in Moby-Dick as well, both formal and informal. Sometimes we can learn from their better qualities, sometimes from their worse. Although Moby-Dick is a great work of fiction, Melville was clearly drawing on examples from many of the leaders and administrators he shipped with in his global travels. He makes us laugh at many of their sillier qualities, as he and his shipmates no doubt did when they were sailors

But he never loses track of the fact that flawed leaders, who are as pervasive today as any time in history, have an outsized impact on the people for whom they are responsible. That’s what makes them so fascinating, and so potentially dangerous as well.