The Essence of Leadership: Explorations from Literature

Course Information

Course Length     : 7 weeks
Estimated Effort  : 4 – 5 hrs per week

Course Overview

Characters in literature represent more than what they seem to be and are often allegories of moral transformation. This unique course by IIMBx, The Essence of Leadership: Explorations from Literature, creates parallels with select works of classic literature and the multi-dimensional world of management while exploring these worlds with unique attributes of leadership that each character brings to the story.

The course consists of interpretations and lessons from classic literature for leadership and effective management. It reads between the lines of some of the greatest works of literature and draws out lessons to help one transform from being an effective manager to a motivational leader.

Delve into the exciting world of complex and compelling stories with us. As you learn more about Quixote’s crazy quirks and Galileo’s societal responsibilities, we hope you reflect and learn more about yourself as a leader. Enrol in this course to discover your own unique brand of leadership from among chapters from classic literature.

Manikutty S

Strategy, Leadership, Family Business
Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB)

Course Syllabus

Week 1: Introduction to the Course
  •         Leadership and Literature
  •        Managers and Leaders
  •        Reading and Appreciating Literature
  •        Recap
Week 2: Vision, Dreams, and Imagination: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  •        Why is this Considered to be one of the Greatest Novels?
  •        Summary of the Story
  •        Why is Don Quixote an Interesting Leader?
  •        Dreams and Imagination: Leadership Starts with a Dream
  •        Reality: Do Dreams End Here?
  •        Courage: Fulfilling One’s Duty
  •        “I Know Who I Am”: Self Awareness in Leadership
  •        Commitment: Playing One’s Role with all One’s Heart
  •        Recap
Week 3: Inspiration, Heroism and Martyrdom: Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw
  •        Discussing one of Shaw’s Best Works
  •        Summary of the Story
  •        Saint Joan’s Contribution to the World
  •        How did Joan Inspire a Nation?
  •        The Courage of Conviction
  •        Her Martyrdom: Why did she have to Die?
  •        Leadership and it’s Contradictions
Week 4: Vision Gone Wrong: Role of Authenticity. Tughlaq by Girish Karnad
  •        Summary of the Story
  •        The Rise and Fall of an Emperor in Thirteen Scenes
  •        The Puzzle: A Visionary who Failed
  •        Role of Trust and Authenticity in Leadership
  •        Aziz and Aazam: The Cynical Exploiters in Organizations
  •        Does the End Justify the Means in Leadership?
  •        Analysis and Conclusion: Why did Tughlaq fail to Realise his Vision?
Week 5: A Leader's Social Responsibility: Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht
  •        Why is this book considered as Brecht’s greatest work?
  •        Summary of the Story
  •        Galileo’s (self assumed) role as a teacher and a thought leader
  •        Recanting by Galileo: Why is it a subject for debate?
  •        Special responsibilities of a leader
  •        Creating faith in leadership: Faith as a double edged sword
Week 6: Real vs. Ideal: An Existentialist View of Leadership. Yuganta by Irawati Karve
  •        A fresh perspective of Mahabharata’s characters by Karve
  •        Bhishma: Is selflessness enough? The role of expectations
  •        Karna: Are talents and skills enough? Knowledge of one’s own identity
  •        Draupati and Kunti: Shaping the story through focus and character
  •        Why did Kauravas lose: The role of strategic leadership
  •        Dhritarashtra: Blind by chance as well as choice
  •        Leadership and its contradictions
Week 7: The Journey’s End

Course conclusion

After completing this course, the participant should be able to:

  • Discuss leadership perspectives from selected works of classic literature
  • Analyse classical works with the framework of organisational management and leadership
  • Analyse characters situated in allegorical management and leadership positions

Middle and Senior Management Executives with a flair for Classic Literature looking to learn techniques for Leadership.

We have always learnt through story-telling – recall our childhood – so it comes as no surprise to me that this format was really effective to bring alive the concepts of “Leadership” in an easy-to-understand and memorable way. My take away from this course is that Leadership is a journey (not a job) and we grow and develop in this journey as we go about living our lives – work, family, friends, society, etc. This course highlighted to me the need to be conscious and mindful of the aspects that make for good leadership as we journey through life constantly trying to hone and improve this important life skill. Thank you to all who put this together.“– Sanjay Roy