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QUESTION: My question is, are the characteristics and skills that Ender possesses a reflection of your views on leadership?

-- Submitted by Anonymous

OSC REPLIES:

Ender has two sets of abilities concerning military matters in "Ender's Game." The one is strategic and tactical skill, an ability to outguess the enemy. This was inborn -- this is what he was tested for as a child. However, he also is forced to adapt to the group of kids around him and to the adults manipulating him, and construct an army out of that situation. Gradually he learns how to identify people with ability, how to encourage people without easing up on rigor, and how to be rigorous without cruelty. One fundamental leadership principle that he learns and uses is that people know if they're really doing a good job. So their confidence in a leader will grow -- even when he's working them very hard -- if they can see that they're getting better.

However, Ender's Game is not a textbook on leadership or anything else. I think he represents "command leadership" very well -- but there are other kinds of leadership and influence, especially where authority is not so clearly expressed, where some of Ender's techniques would be quite inappropriate. So while I endeavored to show Ender handling command well in his circumstances, by no means should "Ender's Game" be taken as a complete expression of my views of good leadership.

In fact, the novel is actually much better at demonstrating ineffective leadership -- the way that bad commanders function is more instructive, in other words, than Ender's good example.

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