• Chapter One. Looking for Leadership Slowly

    We will begin to develop our leadership by looking closely at a portrait of another human face, project some capacities for leadership onto it, and then reflect on our own capacities for this leadership.

  • Chapter Two. Activating Others to Lead: Athena Mentors Telemachus in the *Odyssey*

    We will develop ways both to be--and to find--a better mentor by studying Athena's relationship with Telemachus in the *Odyssey* as she prepares him to take over Odysseus' household.

  • Chapter Three. Becoming a "Master Harmonizer" in Nnedi Okorafor's *Binti*

    We will move beyond activating the potential of individuals to activating the potential of partnerships.

  • Chapter Four. Overcoming Dehumanizing Stereotypes and Reconciling a Nation at War in Aristophanes' *Lysistrata*

    We will continue to explore the challenges that stereotypes pose to leadership and individuals and groups overcome these stereotypes even without support from others.

  • Chapter Five. Recognizing a Bad Mentor and Grappling with Ambition and Greed in Sophocles' *Philoctetes*

    We will delve more deeply into the motivations that help us lead and that get in the way of leading.

  • Chapter Six. Spotting the Bad Mentee in Jorge Luis Borges' "El Muerto"

    We will continue our exploration of leadership motivations and practice developing profiles of personality types that can guide us collaborating (or not) with others..

  • Chapter Seven. How (Not) to Be an Advocate for Others in Larry Kramer's *The Normal Heart*t

    "To speak or not to speak?" is one of the fundamental decisions of leadership. We will ponder this question according to relevance, tone, motivation, clarity, empathy, and timing.

  • Chapter Eight. The Complete Leadership Package? Cyrus the Great in Xenophon's *Education of Cyrus*

    What are the core traits that make up the kind of leadership that best meets the needs of others? Does such a set exist? Where do these traits come from?

  • Chapter Nine. The Requisites of True Leadership according to Ida B. Wells
  • Chapter Ten. Leadership for Tomorrow, Part One: Disney's *Moana*

    We will explore the mentor relationship between Moana and her Gramma Tala as well as the ways Moana becomes a mentor to Maui.

  • Chapter Eleven. Leadership for Tomorrow, Part Two: Ryan Coogler's *The Black Panther*

Envisioning the Future


Ryan Coogler’s The Black Panther grossed $1.3B worldwide and is the fifth highest Marvel film of all time. Thus it offers us an insight into what people all over the world may be anticipating the future of leadership to look like, including its governmental structures (e.g., a confederation of monarchies under an enlightened king/queen?). And the movie offers us a host of leadership examples to think about: T’Challa (the current Black Panther), N’Jadaka (Erik Killmonger), T’Chaka (the former Black Panther), Okoye, Nakia, Ramonda, Shuri, and even M’Baku, the head of the Jabari tribe. As we study these characters and their leadership in depth, we may reflect on the impact an insider vs. outsider identity has on leadership; the importance and limitations of mentorship; and what a vision of a better world than the one we now live in might be.


Watch The Black Panther and compare the leadership development of T’Challa to N’Jadaka (Erik Killmonger). What leadership behaviors does each character show? What behaviors, if any, does each character seem unable to show? Why do you believe this is? Consider specifically each character’s identity as an insider and an outsider and how this impacts their leadership.

Key Passages + Discussion

Scene One: N’Jadaka asks his father to tell him the story of home (=the history of Wakanda)

Listen to the audio commentary to this scene:

Scene Two: The Women of Wakanda who inform T’Challa’s leadership

Listen to the audio commentary to this scene:

Scene Three: T’Challa meets his father on the ancestral plane and wrestles with whether he is prepared to be king of Wakanda

Listen to the audio commentary to this scene:

Scene Four: T’Challa confronts T’Chaka for abandoning N’Jadaka (Killmonger)

Listen to the audio commentary to this scene:

Scene Five: The Death of N’Jadaka (Killmonger)

Listen to the audio commentary to this scene:

Plotting Your Leadership Development

Envisioning a Better Future

At the end of The Black Panther T’Challa tells Shuri that he is establishing the first Wakandan International Outreach Center in Oakland, California. He explains that Nakia will “oversee the social outreach”, while she, Shuri, will spearhead the science and information exchange. This conclusion to the story invites the audience to envision what “social outreach” might look like from an organization with the cultural traditions, vast resources, and technology of a country like Wakanda. What would you like this outreach to look like in visual and experiential terms? In other words, don’t rely on abstract concepts like “social justice,” “equality,” “equity,” “fulfillment,” or “material prosperity.” Describe for yourself a picture of what it would look and feel like to live in the world that Wakandan social outreach could create. If you don’t want to draw from the example of Wakanda, you could describe your own vision for what a better world than the one we live in now might look and feel like. Consider specifically the political (what kind of government do you envision? who would serve in it? what kind of leadership would you expect from them?), social (what would neighborhoods, schools, public squares look and feel like? what would human interactions look like?), economic (what kinds of jobs would people do? how would they be compensated for their work?), and cultural (what would be the roles of science, religion, art, music, etc. in your vision?) elements of your vision. As you envision, consider as other reference points the world of Motunui at the end of Moana:

or this passage from Book 19 of the Odyssey (Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, is addressing his wife, Penelope):

My lady, no mortal on the boundless earth would chide you,
for, indeed, your fame reaches wide heaven,
as does that of a noble king, a god-fearing one,
who rules over men, many and mighty,
and upholds righteousness. Then the black earth bears
wheat and barley, trees are heavy with fruit,
sheep bear young steadily, and the sea provides fish,
from his good government, and people prosper under him. (19.107-114, translated by James Huddleston)

or this passage from Book 8 of the Education of Cyrus, which describes Cyrus’ management of the resources of the Persian Empire:

People…were so devoted to him that those of every nation thought they did themselves an injury if they did not send to Cyrus the most valuable productions of their country, whether the fruits of the earth, or the animals bred there, or manufacturers of their own arts; and every city did the same. And every private individual thought he should become a rich man if he should do something to please Cyrus. And his theory was correct; for Cyrus would always accept that of which the givers had an abundance, and he would give in return that of which he saw that they were in want (8.6.23, translated by Walter Miller; compare Xenophon’s description of the herd that willingly gives its produce to the herdsman, 1.1.2)

or this song by the Staple Singers:

or the traditional hobo song “The Big Rock Candy Mountain”:

or the artwork for the Green New Deal:

More Green New Deal Artwork may be found here.

Finally, here is my own take on “Twenty-four Kinds of Happiness” (2018).

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