Wondering why Millennials have a universal mistrust of authority and where they got it from? They attended the school of healthy skepticism, as professed by the most respected sage of her generation: J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. She raised the children you are now trying to manage. If you are not familiar with the canon of their childhood, they will never fully respect you.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Keep a Diary of Your Team’s Harry Potter References
When arriving at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, each first year student is sorted into one of four Houses:
Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.
At the very least, you should know which Hogwarts House each of your team members belongs to, because this is how they would like to be perceived:
loyal, brave, clever, or ambitious.
Get to know your people beyond their resume or job description, and reward accordingly. Also, keep in mind that many children who grew up reading Harry Potter are now successfully running companies of their own. Understanding each House isn’t just a fun team-building exercise, it is a savvy business practice.
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2. Be Authentic in Your Interest, so It Rings True
Saying you’re just reading Harry Potter to try to make sense of Millenials is endearing, but it also sounds like a chore. The stories are rich in characters, so find one that you truly appreciate. Good or evil, get to know them, and have an opinion on what makes them interesting.
You may want to pay special attention to the Hogwarts professors, which Houses they prefer, and what actions they punish or reward. You can’t be a leader if no one wants to follow you. Keep in mind, however, that the stories are heavy on individual choices. This means that you too will need to choose who to agree or disagree with. You can’t be all things to all people.
3. Don’t Keep Your Feelings Locked Up
Love is the most powerful kind of magic, and this is a theme mentioned in each one of the seven books. Do you love your team? Show it!
Are you the kind of manager who can admit a mistake? You don’t have to be flawless to be a good boss. Let your vulnerabilities show through. Find strength and gather new purpose from past errors. Be prepared to build a new army or dream team.
It's hard to be vulnerable, yet vital to inspiring your people.Let's dispel an urban legend: it's not weak to be vulnerable TY @silviakspiva
— Ron Ricci (@TransparentRon) December 22, 2015
4. Share a Cup of Kindness
The world of Harry Potter has been brought to life by Universal Studios in Florida, and soon in California. These theme parks include shops and restaurants that serve many of the recipes mentioned in the book. Most famous of all is butterbeer. Surprise your team with a butterbeer happy hour, lean back, and listen. You’ll see the joy in their eyes, and throwbacks to happy childhood fantasies.
5. Wear the Crown of Wisdom
Now that you have read the books and understand who the respected role models within the story are, you can focus on highlighting your own leadership qualities. Don’t be boastful, but don’t be timid either. Your leadership abilities are your greatest treasure.
Also, start thinking of your legacy. How will you be remembered? Have you written a book? Do you hand out prizes, awards, or special gifts? Do you have a signature phrase or quotable lesson? What is your message? Will it live forever?
6. Celebrate the Puppies, Kittens, Birds, and Snakes
Some of your employees might be too young to be married or have children. But they may be preparing for parenthood by taking in pets. Are you acknowledging the most important beings in their lives?
You may already have a “bring your dog to work day”. But are you allowing for other pets to be showcased too? Don’t judge or assume that some pets are better than others. It may not be feasible to put all these animals in one place, but you can do a photo or video exchange, where everyone feels welcome. If someone has a pet owl, you have to send me a picture.
7. Promote the Chosen One
You may have hired someone to serve a supervisory role based on their previous experience, a long resume, or graduation from a prestigious institution. However, your official deputy may not be your team’s true leader. Pay attention to who your team members are going to for advice and approval. They have already chosen their leader, and you should reward that person with a promotion and a raise. If you don’t … well, expect a revolution.
The story of Harry Potter and his fellow Hogwarts students is still being written. Follow @jk_rowling as she reveals more magical details and continues to answer questions from fans. You can be a fan too! Why don’t you go ahead and thank her for teaching the children so well?
If you don’t know what Harry Potter house you belong to, try the online Sorting Hat quiz.
You like our geeky mixes with management subjects? Have a look at these picks:
Warhammer 40.000: Why Your Company Needs the Inquisition
Dragon Ball: What Son Goku Teaches Us About the Power Of Crowdfunding
Photo credit: Marco Becerra / Dave Catchpole / Harsh Light / Silvia Spiva