Who you associate with might be what determines what your leadership style is as a human. That being said, the trait approach of leadership suggests that some people were born (or reborn) as a leader based on traits that they had from the beginning (Northhouse, 2016). “Good vs evil” aside, I feel that analyzing the effectiveness of Voldemort vs Dumbledore based on their given traits is insightful in seeing who may have been the better leader of their given side. I will be utilizing the Big Five traits associated with leadership to assess the strength of Voldemort and Dumbledore.
Extraversion, a trait of the Big Five, is most strongly associated with leadership (Northhouse, 2016). Both Voldemort and Dumbledore seem to have extreme strengths based on extraversion alone. That being said, looking at Voldemort’s past as a quiet and shy child may be necessary to follow the trait approach. Perhaps he wasn’t born with extraversion, and I feel that this continued into his teenage years at Hogwarts in which he was more of an observer. Dumbledore, however, seems to have always expressed high levels of extraversion in his life.
The second trait associated with high leadership skills is conscientiousness, or the ability to be organized and decisive. In this sector, I feel that Voldemort has significantly higher conscientiousness than Dumbledore. Though they are both dependable and thorough, I feel that Dumbledore’s own kindness gets in the way of his organization and thoroughness. Voldemort follows through with a plan that he has set, though I feel that Dumbledore’s agreeableness (another Big Five trait) interferes with his leadership. Agreeableness is only weakly associated with leadership, meaning the kindness of Dumbledore may actually be to his detriment (Northhouse, 2016).
The last two traits of effective leaders are openness and low neuroticism. As far as low neuroticism, Voldemort absolutely fails. Neuroticism refers to an individual’s hostility and anxiousness, which I feel is something consistently impairing Voldemort’s leadership abilities. He is a vulnerable individual with a tragic backstory, regardless of his strength in conscientiousness and openness. Dumbledore also has his own neuroticism, also with a tragic backstory and consistent insecurities based on these. However, I feel that his neuroticisms impair his leadership less than Voldemort. Both Dumbledore and Voldemort are equal in my eyes in terms of openness.
Voldemort clearly runs his sector based on a cult mentality and fear, while Dumbledore’s Army is more so based on his agreeableness. That being said, I feel that based simply on the Big Five alone, Dumbledore may have the upper hand. Dumbledore’s strength in agreeableness is only slightly related to leadership, while Voldemort has the strength of conscientiousness and openness. However, Dumbledore has the natural extraversion that is highly associated with leadership. Perhaps they both have their own strengths, though based on the trait approach alone, Dumbledore seems to have greater strength as a leader.
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice (Seventh ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc.