• 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*

Finding your leadership calling


Disney’s Moana tells the story of a young girl, who is heir to the chiefdom of the fictional Polynesian island of Motunui, in her quest to restore prosperity to her people by restoring the magic “Heart” to the goddess of fertility, Te Fiti. It is a story of mentorship on several levels. Moana is mentored by her Gramma Tala and to some extent by her mother. Moana is also a kind of mentor the the fallen hero, Maui, and he, too, mentors her in the art of wayfinding, a lost ancestral tradition of the people of Motonui. In all, Moana is a story about how fully acknowledging one’s passion can unlock hidden talents that are ultimately more beneficial for leadership than the one’s those in authority try to impose.

Moana grossed $643M worldwide and is thus the kind of cultural product that can tell us something about the future of leadership, or at least how many people will be thinking about the future of leadership.

For further reading on the traditional Polynesian cultural elements of the film check out The Art of Moana by Jessica Julius and Maggie Malone (2016).


Watch Moana and identify the elements of mentorship that you have already witnessed in our chapters on Athena-Telemachus, Odysseus-Neoptolemus, Dr. Brookner-Ned Weeks, and even Bandeira-Otálara. What similarities and differences do you see in their leadership development?

Key Passages + Discussion

Passage One: Gramma Tala activates Moana

Listen to the audio commentary on this passage:

Passage Two: Moana rescues a sea turtle and wins the Heart of Te Fiti

Listen to the audio commentary on this passage:

“An Innocent Warrior”: https://disney.fandom.com/wiki/An_Innocent_Warrior#Samoan


“An Innocent Warrior”
(Written by Opetaia Foa’i)
(Tuvaluan, Tokelauan, Samoan mix)Ou mata e matagi
Ou loto mamaina toa
Manatu atu
Taku pelepelePa mai to mafanafanaga
Saolotoga tenei
Ki tamafinePa mai to malamalama
Taimi totoe ko he lava
Maua ai te lumanai
O te atunuku


Your eyes so full of wonder
Your heart an innocent warrior
There’s a task for you
Our dearest oneLet it flow over you
This freedom you feel
And your deep thoughts
Our young girlYou’ll come to understand
There’s not much time left
To save the future
Of all our islands

Passage Three: “Where You Are” vs. “Who You Are”

Listen to the audio commentary on this passage:

Passage Four: Leadership as the Promotion of Abundance

Listen to the audio commentary on this passage:

Passage Five: Moana Articulates Her Calling

Listen to the audio commentary on this passage:

Passage Six: “I Am Moana”

Listen to the audio commentary on this passage:

Passage Seven: Moana Restores the Heart of Te Fiti and Mentors Te Ka

Listen to the audio commentary on this passage:

Plotting Your Leadership Development

Part One: Fill in the blanks (the lyrics don’t have to rhyme):
“How Far I’ll Go”

I’ve been staring at __________________
‘Long as I can remember, never really knowing why
I wish I could be the perfect __________
But I come back to _______, no matter how hard I try
Every turn I take, every trail I track
Every path I make, every road leads back
To the place I know, where I can not go, where I long to be
See the _____________? It calls me
And no one knows, how far it goes
If  [what happens?____]_
One day I’ll know, if I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go
I know everybody [where? what is your version of the island?], seems so happy [where?]
Everything is by design
I know everybody [where?] has a role [where?]
So maybe I can roll with mine
I can lead with _______, I can make us strong
I’ll be satisfied if I play along
But the voice inside sings a different song
What is wrong with me?
See the light as it shines on _______? It’s blinding
But no one knows, how deep it goes
And it seems like it’s calling out to me, so come find me
And let me know, what’s beyond that _______, will I cross that _______?
The _____. It calls me
And no one knows, how far it goes
If ___[what happens?]____
One day I’ll know, how far I’ll go

Part Two: Rewrite the lyrics to “I Am Moana” to fit how you see yourself (the lyrics don’t have to rhyme):

Who am I?
I am a girl who loves my island
I’m the girl who loves the sea
It calls me
I am the daughter of the village chief
We are descended from voyagers
Who found their way across the world
They call me
I’ve delivered us to where we are
I have journeyed farther
I am everything I’ve learned and more
Still it calls me
And the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me
It’s like the tide, always falling and rising
I will carry you here in my heart you’ll remind me
That come what may
I know the way
I am Moana!

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