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Leadership Lessons from The Lord of the Rings


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Slides used in a presentation by Joe Tye, CEO of Values Coach Inc., illustrating the different leadership styles reflected in The Lord of the Rings.

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Leadership Lessons from The Lord of the Rings

  1. 1. Leadership Lessons from By Joe Tye, CEO of Values Coach Inc.
  2. 2. 2 Slides from one of Joe Tye’s presentations on Leadership Lessons from the Greatest Leaders Who Never Lived. Joe Tye is CEO and Head Coach of Values Coach Inc.
  3. 3. 3 For more information about options for having Joe present for your organization, contact Michelle Arduser: Phone: 800-644-3889 (319-624-3889) Email:
  4. 4. Ancient wisdom for modern leaders “Instead of being concerned that you have no office, be concerned to think how you may fit yourself for office.” - Confucius
  5. 5. Surveys around the world show The Lord of the Rings to be the book of the century, and even of the millennium. 5
  6. 6. And this was certainly the movie event of the decade, perhaps even of the century. 6
  7. 7. “Critics say Tolkien’s fantasy is escapist, unrealistic, and irrelevant to modern social problems! The problem is exactly the opposite: it is far too relevant for the critic’s comfort.” Peter J. Kreeft: The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind The Lord of the Rings
  8. 8. But can Tolkien really be called one of the greatest leadership gurus of all time? 8 Click here to download a free eBook of Joe’s book Leadership Lessons
  9. 9. “J.R.R. Tolkien had an intuitive understanding of the theories and practice of leadership that was well ahead of its time…” Joe Tye: Leadership Lessons: What You Can Learn from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Classic Works 9
  10. 10. “Tolkien’s characters represent archetypes of virtually every major leadership style that has been practiced over the past fifty years.” Joe Tye: Leadership Lessons: What You Can Learn from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Classic Works 10
  11. 11. “Fictional characters can be more real than real people.” Christopher Tolkien 11
  12. 12. 12 Let’s start with definitions…
  13. 13. 13 An archetype is an original model of a person, ideal example, or a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated. Wikipedia
  14. 14. 14 In other words, an archetype is a master style.
  15. 15. 15 Many of the characters in The Lord of the Rings represent archetypes of leadership.
  16. 16. 16 Before looking at the archetypes, let’s consider the difference between management & leadership…
  17. 17. Management is a job description. Leadership is a life decision. 17
  18. 18. Management is what you do. Leadership is who you are. 18
  19. 19. Management is transactional. Leadership is transformational. James MacGregor Burns: Leadership 19
  20. 20. 20 Leadership is not just about power!
  21. 21. 21 “You can’t fight the Enemy with his own Ring without turning into an Enemy [yourself].” J.R.R. Tolkien (letters)
  22. 22. A leader is someone who has followers 22
  23. 23. A leader is a person who takes you to a place you didn’t know you wanted to go 23
  24. 24. What leaders do Leaders create community by inspiring emotion and by influencing action 24
  25. 25. Committee of the Ring 25
  26. 26. The Ring Team 26
  27. 27. Fellowship of the Ring 27
  28. 28. Let’s look at lessons in leadership style from the archetypal leaders The Lord of the Rings 28
  29. 29. Sauron’s Lesson 29
  30. 30. 30 You can achieve short-term goals – even come close to world domination – using intimidation and fear to “motivate” people, but the people you terrorize will eventually turn on you (as the Ring itself turned on Sauron).
  31. 31. Saruman’s Lesson 31
  32. 32. 32 One of the most important decisions that any leader makes is the choice of people with whom to associate, because over time people take on the attributes of others in what sociologists call their reference group.
  33. 33. Denethor’s Lesson 33
  34. 34. 34 The most profound duty of the leader is to inspire hope during the darkest of times – and that responsibility begins with the leader constantly rekindling their own hope.
  35. 35. Gollum’s Lesson 35
  36. 36. 36 We all must choose whether to follow our own inner angels or our inner demons – and how we make that choice will substantially determine what we achieve and who we become.
  37. 37. Boromir’s Lesson 37
  38. 38. 38 Wise leaders know that you can never use evil means to achieve worthy ends, no matter how noble your intentions might be.
  39. 39. Aragorn’s Lesson 39
  40. 40. 40 Great leaders are guided by authenticity rather than being driven by ambition, and in the process they create a sense of destiny that inspires followers to greatness.
  41. 41. Galadriel’s Lesson 41
  42. 42. 42 The greatest gift a leader can give is the light of hope and courage when people are traversing the valley of shadow and despair.
  43. 43. Gandalf’s Lesson 43
  44. 44. 44 The most important contribution any leader can make is not in the act of leading, but rather in the cultivating of other leaders.
  45. 45. Theoden’s Lesson 45
  46. 46. 46 No circumstance is so dark and dire that a change of heart coupled with forceful action cannot turn the tide.
  47. 47. 47 Eowyn’s Lesson
  48. 48. 48 No one can prevent a determined leader from performing the great deeds that it is her destiny to perform.
  49. 49. Faramir’s Lesson 49
  50. 50. 50 One of the most courageous of leadership acts is giving up the illusion of being in control and trusting that others can fulfill duties upon which your future will depend.
  51. 51. Eomer’s Lesson 51
  52. 52. 52 Real leaders put duty (to king and country) ahead of their own personal desires, comforts, and even safety.
  53. 53. Frodo’s Lesson 53
  54. 54. 54 When your own hope and strength fail, you must fall back on your faith in the hope and strength of others – seen and unseen.
  55. 55. Sam Gamgee’s Lesson 55
  56. 56. 56 The best leaders are those who never cease seeing themselves as followers and as servants, even after they themselves are viewed by others as leaders.
  57. 57. Merry & Pippin’s Lesson 57
  58. 58. 58 Those who grow in stature and status are the ones who begin by volunteering for the difficult and dangerous jobs, with no hope of personal gain from the endeavor.
  59. 59. 59 Legolas & Gimli’s Lesson
  60. 60. 60 The most courageous leadership act of all is that of replacing ancient hatreds with a new spirit of fellowship.
  61. 61. Elrond’s Lesson 61
  62. 62. 62 A small band of volunteers who are committed heart and soul to the mission will almost always outperform an army of draftees.
  63. 63. Who is the Leader? 63
  64. 64. 64 The most effective organizations have leadership in every corner, not just in the corner office.
  65. 65. 65 Another great leadership lesson from another great work of fiction...
  66. 66. “A king does not abide within his tent while his men bleed and die upon the field. A king does not dine while his men go hungry, nor sleep when they stand at watch upon the wall.  A king does not command his men’s loyalty through fear nor purchase it with gold; he earns their love by the sweat of his own back and the pains he endures for their sake.  That which comprises the harshest burden, a king lifts first and sets down last.  A king does not require service of those he leads but provides it to them.  He serves them, not they him…  A king does not expend his substance to enslave men, but by his conduct and example makes them free.” Steven Pressfield: Gates of Fire 66