The Hobbit in the Office
Tolkien’s creativity has captured our imaginations for generations, but more importantly his stories tap into some everyday truths. From addressing unlikely friendships like that of Gimli the dwarf and Legolas the elf to the large picture struggle between good and evil, these stories are timeless. Maybe the most fascinating thing about his themes is that they can even carry over into our day to day work life. Particularly Tolkien’s commonly noted pattern of highlighting the underdog in The Lord of the Rings as well as The Hobbit can teach us about employees and relationships.
Tolkien stresses the point in both epic tales that sometimes the most unlikely achievers have the potential to save the day when given the opportunity. Let’s examine that further for a moment. Of the options for a potential hero in both stories, Tolkien could have picked a mighty swordsman or the powerful wizard. Instead it was little Frodo that carried the ring to Mordor and the previously unadventurous Bilbo that accompanied the dwarves to retrieve their treasure in the Lonely Mountain. Like in an office space, it is sometimes those that are at first the most insecure that have tremendous potential.
Keep in mind that these little hobbits didn’t dream of accomplishing such big things all on their own. It was Gandalf the wizard that coaxed them both into taking on larger adventures and it was only later on that they discovered their capabilities. There is a great parallel between Gandalf’s role as a mentor for the hobbits and a manager’s role to their employee. Like Gandalf, managers operate with much more knowledge of a bigger picture and usually see much more possibility for innovation.
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Table of Contents
4 biggest tips we can learn from Tolkien’s hobbit heroes:
1) Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t.
2) Don’t underestimate yours and your employees’ potential. If you haven’t tried it, it doesn’t mean it’s not do-able.
3) As a leader, be careful to stay in tune with employees and explore their abilities. You might be surprised what they can accomplish.
4) A leadership role involves slowly bringing employees out of their shell and helping them to recognize their own capabilities.