5 Types of Harry Potter Characters in Your Office

There is a Dumbledore and an Umbridge in every office

Photo by RAMSHA ASAD on Unsplash

Imagine for a minute that your office is the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It is not as crazy an idea as you may think! I bet there are people in your office who share several characteristics with the following Hogwarts professors.

Severus Snape

He favors his own house and maligns others.

Professor Snape is biased against non-Slytherins. Most notably, he shuts down Harry and Hermione even when they are being perfectly diligent. When Snape finally becomes the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, he asks his class to explain non-verbal spells. When Hermione responds with the correct explanation, he dismisses her by saying

An answer copied almost word for word from The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 6.

as though this fact takes away from the merit of the explanation itself. If in place of Hermione, the person giving the response had been Draco Malfoy, Professor Snape’s favorite student, he’d have likely rewarded Slytherin with house points.

We have all had bosses who have assumed positive intent in employees who belong to their “house”. The “house” here could mean a particular gender, race, ideology, personality type or working style.

Minerva McGonagall

She has zero tolerance for bulls**t. You respect her.

Professor McGonagall is rational, stern, loyal and curt. She follows the rules. For example: she refuses to sign the permission form for Harry to visit Hogsmeade, since she is neither Harry’s parent nor his guardian. However, she is open to bending the rules at her own discretion, like she demonstrates when she makes an exception for Harry, a first year, to try-out for the Quidditch team. She surprises her students with unexpected kindness. Professor McGonagall doesn’t let people cross her or disrespect her in any way. She stands up for what she believes in, and all these qualities make you respect her.

Fortunately, I have worked with people like Professor McGonagall. These people are like large trees — they radiate dependability and warmth. People listen to them in meetings. You trust them to make the right decision, in total fairness.

Horace Slughorn

He carefully designs an inner circle, and you are not in it

Are you part of the “Slug Club”? If you are not sure, you are probably not in it. Often, the most powerful people within organizations have an inner circle they’ve deliberately designed. You definitely know people like Professor Slughorn, who clearly favor a hand-picked group of people, and exclude others.

In tech companies all over the Bay Area, where I live and work, Slughorn is usually a white bro whose inner circle comprises other white bros.

Dolores Umbridge

She makes up/cites rules to make you miserable

I know a few Umbridges at work. They don’t have the people skills to negotiate or inspire. Instead, they rely on power structures and rules to strong-arm you into doing something. The Umbridges also use their proximity to an authority figure to enforce. One of my colleagues bullies people into documenting even the tiniest of decisions/ideas. When someone brings up an opposing viewpoint to his own in a meeting, he will say, “I will not consider this idea unless it is written down because our company values documentation.”. Or, he’d say “Matt doesn’t like process-oriented ideas.” — Matt could be anyone with authority.

Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with these statements, but it is just a way to shut your peers down, by feigning a superior understanding of the unwritten rules.

Albus Dumbledore

The ideal leader

Dumbledores make genius look simple. They are unassuming, childlike (“Alas, earwax!”), humble, brilliant and extremely dependable. They radiate calm confidence even when faced with the worst storms. Dumbledores are few and far between, but are a force of pure goodness in a dark world. They bring out the best in people, and trust their team unconditionally.

They are highly educated, and have seen/known success, good, evil, everything, and have concluded that “love” is the most powerful thing on earth, and rightly so. I hope to be a Dumbledore someday.

Are there other Harry Potter characters your colleagues remind you of? Leave a comment!

I'm a product manager living in San Francisco with a heart that refuses to leave Chennai! I enjoy writing about product management, technology, and food.

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