Leadership Lessons from Captain Ahab

Among the more popular posts on The Reticulum are those related to the admittedly wacky idea of “leadership lessons from Captain Ahab.” I’ve decided to consolidate those semi-satirical pieces and to add new ones in a separate blog devoted to the concept. If you’re interested, you can visit that blog here.

Illustration by I. W. Taber; Wikipedia

This is how the latest post devoted to Ahab and Moby-Dick begins:

In the business world, we love our legendary leaders. They are swash-buckling heroes who take over floundering corporate ships and set them to rights. Every decision they make sparkles like polished brass. Every course they set is true. Every speech they make rings as brightly as a gold doubloon.

It’s all a bunch of crap, of course. In most cases, even leaders of successful enterprises have done lots of dumb things, from betting on the wrong business models to alienating key employees to engaging in quasi-ethical exploits. But as long as their companies have enjoyed lots of growth during their tenure, most of this gets swept under the proverbial rug, except by the very best business biographers.

Melville is more honest about leaders than most of the existing biz lit. The leaders on the Pequod have some lousy qualities along with their good ones….

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