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All I Really Needed to Know About Teamwork I Learned from Harry Potter

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling features hundreds of unique characters, many whom form teams to either support or hinder Harry. Teamwork strategies from the Harry Potter series also apply to Muggle (non-magic folk) business dealings.

Identify and use individual strengths.

Harry picks his team based on their complementary strengths.

Harry picks his team based on their complementary strengths.

Harry knows that his strengths include inspiring others, selflessness, and sheer determination. However, he’s not the best plan maker and his knowledge of the wizarding world is limited. But Harry knows that his friend Hermione Granger is incredibly skilled and clever, so she can be the one to develop plans with all of the finite details. And Harry’s other best friend, Ron Weasley, grew up in the wizarding world, so he has all the information that Harry lacks.

Avoid a weak team: seek out what each individual does best, and use it to the team’s advantage. That employee who’s always five minutes late might also be the best public speaker in your office; the employee who doesn’t say more than five words a day might write the best copy; and the employee who does crosswords in meetings probably has a batch of fresh ideas.

The key to a successful team is not having the best, but the best for your project.

Build a corporate identity.

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hogwarts students come together to learn defensive spells under Harry’s tutelage. After a few short months, they become the most proficient students in these spells. This force goes on to assist Harry in battle. Every time that they emerge victorious, there is a huge group feeling of gratification.

When a team works toward a single, common goal, morale increases. Everyone has stake in the outcome, and once it’s reached, the whole group experiences a sense of accomplishment. Coworkers earn each other’s trust and build relationships with each other. This creates a happy equilibrium in the office, and happy people are much more productive than those who are not. More productivity means more profit – you see where I’m going with this.

Don’t go it alone!

The skills possessed by Harry’s friends were critical in killing Voldemort. Hermione’s detail-oriented personality made sure that the team was fully prepared for months of Thoreau-esque camping, while Ron’s memory of basilisk fangs ensured a protagonist victory. Each of the eight relics that housed Voldemort’s soul was killed by different characters – talk about excellent teamwork!

The Death Eaters failed because their teamwork was lacking.

The Death Eaters failed because their teamwork was lacking.

Teams are important because you can’t do everything by yourself. Great teamwork yields efficiency, a reduction of risk, and a higher quality of output. Why did the Death Eaters fail? Their teamwork was lacking. There were always power struggles within the ranks, Death Eaters didn’t respect each other, and nobody could approach Voldemort with questions.

When you think of teamwork, think of Harry. If it wasn’t for his friends, he would’ve died a dozen times over. Or he’d at least still be standing next to a giant chessboard trying to figure out a winning move.

Are there any other teamwork takeaways from Harry Potter? Have you ever been on a team like Harry’s? Or have you had a teamwork experience like the Death Eaters?

Image credit to Scholastic’s HP Press Kit.



Mandy Kilinskis

Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on

Comments

  1. Jana Quinn

    Awesome article, Mandy! HP nerds and corporate efficiency experts can both pull key points from here. I especially liked where you gave examples of employees who may exhibit negative behaviors, but it could be under the circumstances that their talents aren’t being recognized and they’re a) passive-aggressively lashing out or b) bored. Instead of just firing them or – worse – letting them get away with it, you bring up a great point to help managers get their employees engaged.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Someone can always do something, it’s just a matter of finding out what that is. Managers or HR can draw these out with informal questions along the lines of “So what do you do during your free time?” or “I noticed that you expressed interest in xyz, have any other ideas?”

  2. JPorretto

    As a big time sports fan, your first point point really hits home. I can’t tell you how many times coaches try to fit round pegs into square holes, then act bewildered when those round peg no-goods do so well elsewhere. If only they were as smart as Harry Potter…

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      IF ONLY.

      Forcing an employee into a situation that they aren’t equipped to deal with is a certain route to failure.

  3. amy

    Great post Mandy! I applaud you being able to combine business with Harry Potter! Yay!! I can’t imagine not working in a team environment, there’s something so nice about being able to bounce ideas off of other people :)

    P.S. is the employee who does crossword puzzles in meetings that probably has a batch of fresh ideas Stanley from The Office? If yes, I think you should sneak an Office reference into every post. If not, please ignore this P.S.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      A team environment is the best. I love being able to bounce ideas off of each other or send around blog posts to be edited.

      P.S. Heck yes it is! 1,000 points for catching the reference! :)

  4. Jenna

    Great post, Mandy! Everyone could learn a thing or two about teamwork (and networking) from Harry Potter!

    “If it wasn’t for his friends, he would’ve died a dozen times over. Or he’d at least still be standing next to a giant chessboard trying to figure out a winning move.” Truer words have never been spoken. I would argue that Harry wasn’t necessarily the greatest wizard of his age — he just had the right hook-ups! :)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I’m telling you, Jenna. The importance of networking takeaways from Harry Potter…

  5. Cybernetic SAM

    Very cool post! That is awesome you gave it this cool perspective! Although, regarding the “don’t go at it alone,” Harry kind of does that often (with good intentions of course) but his comrades always seem to help him out when it comes to crunch time. I love Harry Potter! I miss the anticipation, I always had waiting for the movies to come out (after all, ten years is a long time). Now we need something equally amazing to fill the void. :)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Yeah, Harry does try and go it alone, but his teammates never let him get too far. Hermione’s persistence is definitely helpful to him in those situations.

      P.S. That equally amazing thing would be The Hunger Games movies.

  6. Rachel

    Really, I don’t know what Harry would have done without his friends and mentors–he would have died a dozen times over simply if he never met Hermione, let alone any other characters that helped him along. And you did a great job tying all this to the business world! I especially like your point that “The key to a successful team is not having the best, but the best for your project.” It’s really true, but often forgotten, I think. Thanks for the awesome post!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I think that many people develop a “I MUST GET THE BEST” mentality, but then fail to remember that “the best” might all have the same exact qualities. And from these exact qualities come competition and tension.

  7. Jill Tooley

    I LOVE THIS POST!

    This is my favorite section:

    “Why did the Death Eaters fail? Their teamwork was lacking. There were always power struggles within the ranks, Death Eaters didn’t respect each other, and nobody could approach Voldemort with questions.”

    So true! How could any of them approach the big V for clarification if they were afraid they’d get Avada Kedavra cast on them? When you’re afraid of your boss or of your other co-workers, there isn’t going to be much room for communication (unless you’re a Dark Lord ass-kisser like Bellatrix, that is). Harry and his friends sometimes take awhile to figure out a plan, but at least they talk to each other and work out tasks for each person. That’s what saves them in the end!

    Nice job on this! Hopefully this post will inspire other Harry Potter topics on our blog! :)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      “Hey, so, Voldemort, I had a question about the dental insurance…”

      “Avada Kedavra!!!”

      And the point you make about communication is so true. Someone could totally do a HP & Office Communication blog. :)

      • Jill Tooley

        Haha! Given the dental hygiene of some of the Death Eaters (Bellatrix included), it seems like they really could have used the insurance… ;)

  8. LK

    Great Post!
    I haven’t seen all the Harry Potter movies, but from your blog post and the movies I have seen, you can definitely learn about teamwork from Harry and his friends!

    • Amanda

      Same here Lauren. I’ve only seen the first two–but I just borrowed the whole series from a friend, so I’m hoping to catch up on them soon.

      This is a great blog post Mandy! You did a nice job tying things together…and reading this post makes me want to watch the rest of the movies even more. Well done!

  9. Jen

    Great Post Mandy!

  10. Joseph Giorgi

    When it comes to teamwork, you just can’t top Harry and his pals. Love the bit about identifying the strengths of individual team members. So true. Also, I’ll second the notion that the downfall of the Death Eaters was due to dissension in the ranks. What an unorganized bunch of antagonists!

    Stellar post, Mandy! :D

    Of course, you’ve just reminded me of how much I’ll miss the wizarding world of HP. :’(

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