Michael J. Urick (Saint Vincent College, USA)

Leadership in Middle-Earth: Theories and Applications for Organizations

ISBN: 978-1-80071-528-8, eISBN: 978-1-80071-525-7

Publication date: 25 May 2021


Urick, M.J. (2021), "Prelims", Leadership in Middle-Earth: Theories and Applications for Organizations (Exploring Effective Leadership Practices through Popular Culture), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. i-xvi.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021 Emerald Publishing Limited

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Series Page


Series Editor: Michael J. Urick

The aim of this series is to examine modern and innovative business theories and methods via relatable popular culture themes. The books will provide academically rigorous and credible applications and solutions to practitioners and upper level business students in a format designed to be highly engaging and effective.

Titles in Exploring Effective Leadership Practices through Popular Culture:

A Manager’s Guide to Using the Force: Leadership Lessons from a Galaxy Far Far Away

Michael J. Urick

Leadership in Middle-earth: Theories and Applications for Organizations

Michael J. Urick

Title Page

Exploring Effective Leadership Practices through Popular Culture


Theories and Applications for Organizations


Michael J. Urick

Saint Vincent College, USA

United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK

First edition 2021

Copyright © 2021 Emerald Publishing Limited.

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No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without either the prior written permission of the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying issued in the UK by The Copyright Licensing Agency and in the USA by The Copyright Clearance Center. Any opinions expressed in the chapters are those of the authors. Whilst Emerald makes every effort to ensure the quality and accuracy of its content, Emerald makes no representation implied or otherwise, as to the chapters’ suitability and application and disclaims any warranties, express or implied, to their use.

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A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-1-80071-528-8 (Print)

ISBN: 978-1-80071-525-7 (Online)

ISBN: 978-1-80071-527-1 (Epub)

Dedication Page

To my parents, Michele and Richard. I still have your copies of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” that you gave to me when I was 11 years old. Thank you for that and, even more, thank you for your constant support. At an early age, you encouraged me to pursue a career as a writer and you helped me to grow my imagination. I am forever grateful. I love you both very much.


List of Tables xi
Biography xiii
Acknowledgments xv
Introduction: Leadership and Fairy Tales 1
1. Background and Organization of the Book 5
Learning from Anything 6
Structure of the Book 7
Summary 10
2. Background 13
The Life and Works of J. R. R. Tolkien 13
Leadership 16
Tolkien’s Views on Leadership 17
Summary 19
3. Leader Emergence and Holding onto Power 21
Seeking Power 21
Servant Leadership 23
Leader Emergence and Effectiveness 24
Summary 26
4. Leader Influence 29
Bases of Power 29
 The Wizards 32
 The Kings 36
 The Hobbits 39
Power, Wisdom, and Simplicity 42
Summary 44
5. Team Considerations 45
Enhancing Team Effectiveness 46
Strengthening of Mental Models 47
Goal Setting and Motivation 50
Summary 53
6. Communication 55
Saruman and Gandalf 55
Communication through Actions 58
The Role of Song 62
Summary 63
7. Representation in Middle-earth 65
Identity 66
Resolving Identity-based Conflict 67
Gender and Leadership 69
Summary 70
8. Mentorship and Knowledge 73
Examples of Mentorship and Knowledge Transfer in Middle-earth 73
Defining Mentorship and Knowledge Transfer 74
Mentor Behaviors 79
When is Knowledge a Negative? 81
Intergenerational Knowledge Transfer 82
Summary 83
9. Conducting Meetings 85
Purposes of Meetings 85
An Unexpected Party 86
The Council of Elrond 89
Summary 90
10. Care for Resources 93
Examples from Middle-earth 93
The Ents 95
Minimization of Waste 96
Environmentalism and Tolkien’s Faith 98
Summary 100
11. Celebrations 103
Celebrations of Success 103
Music 104
The Road Goes Ever on and on 106
Summary 107
12. Applying Leadership in Middle-earth to Our Own Contexts 109
Understand Who You are and What You Value 110
Don’t Seek Power 110
Increase Your Influence 111
Help Your Fellowship Perform 112
Communicate Honestly in a Way that Resonates with Others 113
Unify Rather than Divide 114
Foster Growth and Development of Your Followers 115
Think about the Attributes and Purposes of Meetings 116
Act as a Proper Steward of Resources 117
Know When and How to Celebrate (and When and How Not to) 117
Summary 118
Appendix 1: Characters in Middle-earth Referenced in this Book 121
Appendix 2: Stories in Middle-earth Referenced in this Book 124
References 125
Index 131

List of Tables

Appendix 1: Characters in Middle-earth Referenced in this Book 121
Appendix 2: Stories in Middle-earth Referenced in this Book 124


Dr Michael J. Urick is Graduate Director of the Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence (MSMOE) program and Associate Professor of Management and Operational Excellence at the Alex G. McKenna School of Business, Economics, and Government at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, USA. He received his PhD in Management (Organizational Behavior focus) from the University of Cincinnati. His MBA (focused in Human Resource Management) and MS (in Leadership and Business Ethics) are both from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and his Bachelor’s degree is from Saint Vincent College. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses related to organizational behavior, human resources, communication and conflict, organizational culture, operations, and research methods.

The MSMOE program, which he directs, focuses on providing aspiring leaders with cutting-edge management techniques to effectively problem solve, minimize waste, and continuously improve their organizations. The program has been consistently ranked as a “Top 50 Best Value Master’s in Management” program by Value Colleges and as a “Top Online Non-MBA Business Graduate Degree” by US News and World Report.

He is Six Sigma Green Belt certified and is also certified through the Society for Human Resource Management as well as the True Lean program at the University of Kentucky. He is the recipient of an “Excellence in Teaching” award from the Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati, the “Quentin Schaut Faculty” award from Saint Vincent College, and a “Teaching Excellence” award from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs among other pedagogical honors. Internationally, he was also recognized by the Institute for Supply Management as a “Person of the Year” in the learning and education category.

He is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Leadership and Management and the North American Associate Editor of the Measuring Business Excellence journal. He is also the Editor for the “Exploring Effective Leadership Practices through Popular Culture” book series from Emerald Publishing.

His research interests include leadership, conflict, and diversity in the workplace. Much of his work focuses on issues related to intergenerational phenomena within organizations. He also often examines how popular culture can be used to advance organizational behavior theory. In addition to authoring or co-authoring over 50 publications including multiple books and peer-reviewed articles, he regularly presents at academic and practitioner international meetings such as the Academy of Management, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and Institute for Supply Management conferences. He is a regular speaker on age-related issues in the workplace throughout the United States and internationally (having presented on four continents) and is an active consultant on issues related to workplace interactions, organizational culture, and ethics. He has served as a reviewer for a variety of academic publications including the Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, Journal of Social Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior, and Journal of Family Issues as well as the Organizational Behavior and Human Resources divisions of the Academy of Management Annual Meeting in addition to other conferences. In his monthly blog, he blends his research and teaching interests to suggest practical and actionable items for readers to use in their current or future work situations.

Professionally, he has served on the boards of ISM-Pittsburgh in various roles including President and the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival. He has also served on the Westmoreland Human Resources Association board in various positions including Vice President. Prior to academia, he worked in a variety of roles related to auditing, utilities, environmental issues, and training and development. Through these experiences, he became fascinated with interactions in the workplace and how they might be improved which has influenced his academic career.

For fun, he enjoys music and, since 1998, has led and performed with Neon Swing X-perience, a jazz band that has toured through over a dozen US states and released their 10th album in 2020.


There are many people to whom I am indebted and without whom this book would not be a reality. First and foremost, I would like to thank my family, especially Lucy and Janet. You have encouraged me throughout the long process of writing this book. I also especially want to thank my parents, Rick and Mickie, to whom this book is dedicated. Thank you for all of your support.

I also want to thank my grandfather, Mike “Ug” Cilli, who first taught me to read. Because of your guidance, I developed a love of reading which eventually led me to the works of Tolkien.

Many thanks to Dean Gary Quinlivan and all of my colleagues at Saint Vincent College who supported this book as well as earlier research that I did on this topic.

I would especially like to thank Fr Wulfstan Clough. Your perspectives and insights into Tolkien’s life and works helped me to grow my appreciation of the depth of Middle-earth.

Thank you also to Rev. Dr Bill Hisker for your Gandalf-like mentorship.

The comments, guidance, and support from Mike Percival, Lynn Whitaker, Luke Shelton, Darrell Curtis, and everyone at the Tolkien Society have been invaluable as I wrote this book. The feedback that I received from attendees of the society’s Oxonmoot 2020 on my presentation of some of the concepts found herein was indispensable in improving this book. Thank you, all.

Thank you also to the American Tolkien Society and Journal of Leadership and Management for publishing my earlier articles related to some of the concepts in this book.

Thanks to my Tolkien buddies in the Second Breakfast Smial, especially Betsy Chapman, Ross Nunamaker, and Joan Freeman. I’ve learned so much about the Professor from each of you and enjoy our conversations.

Gina McKlveen made suggestions after attending one of my leadership facilitation sessions that strengthened this book as well as my overall approach to leadership coaching. Thank you so much.

Drs Gregory Bassham and Eric Bronson were extremely helpful in providing insight for this book. Thank you very much for sharing your expertise with me.

Fiona Allison has been especially helpful as a champion of this book and the series to which it belongs. Thank you for your enthusiasm and excitement for this project. Thank you also to the entire crew at Emerald for your hard work and dedication.

Thank you to Peter Jackson. Your films helped boost Professor Tolkien’s popularity and further cemented “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” in their appropriate place of high status in the realm of not just popular culture but also culture in a broader sense.

Lastly, I of course want to thank Professor J. R. R. Tolkien. You are an inspiration to many. Your writings have provided readers (including myself) with comfort in hard times. And, in part because of your influence based on what I learned about your career over time, I explored a career in academia and writing. In doing so, I found my calling as a professor and author.