The Daily Dick: A Study in Leadership


"With the mad secret of his unabated rage bolted up and keyed in him, Ahab had purposely sailed upon the present voyage with the one only and all-engrossing object of hunting the White Whale. [ . . . ] The crew, so officered, seemed specially picked and packed by some infernal fatality to help him to his monomaniac revenge. How it was that they so abidingly responded to the old man’s ire—by what evil magic their souls were possessed, that at times his hate seemed almost theirs."

The Study: As I look through the text for examples of good and bad leadership skills, I am struck by how often Melville condemns the people who serve under a bad leader. In the passage above, it is clear that Ahab takes on the leadership of the Pequod for one reason - to exact revenge upon Moby-Dick. But Melville also believes that by serving an evil master, the hate in the leader can become hate in the followers. It's frightening how this can be seen in the silence of Starbuck and in the silence of our leadership today.

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