The Leadership of Oz
Written by Albert Bolea MBA   
Tuesday, 25 June 2013 20:10









I grew up in the 1960s and once each year a major television network would show the Wizard of OZ, a 1939 film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The entire family would come together in the living room for 103 minutes to re-live a fantasy adventure on our 18-inch Magnavox television set. Now as an adult and on the other side of 50 years, a leadership consultant, and a university professor, I no longer view the film as a fantasy. I see it as a lesson in leadership.

As the movie unfolds we are introduced to Dorothy, a young girl knocking on the door of adulthood. Her reality is awakened when a powerful person in her environment, Almira Gulch, takes a dislike to her dog, Toto, and purses legal action to have the dog put down. Instead of facing her reality, Dorothy packs her bags and runs away with Toto trailing behind her. Not far from home she meets her first mentor in the story, Professor Marvel, a traveling magician. The professor helps Dorothy become aware of her accountability to her family, especially her Aunt Em. When faced with the realization that her behavior is wrong she turns around and makes her way back home.

On her way home she encounters another challenge in her environment, a massive tornado that chases her into her house where she is knocked unconscious by the force of the wind. When she awakens she discovers that the house with her in it has been torn from its foundation and is falling through the tornado’s violently rotating column of air. The house lands in a mysterious land, “somewhere over the rainbow.”  Then she meets her second mentor, Glinda the Good Witch, who describes a future for Dorothy that exists at the end of the yellow-brick road – in Emerald City. There she will find the great and powerful Wizard of Oz who will help her find her way back home. During her journey to find the Wizard she meets a scarecrow, who was hanging on a post in a cornfield. She also meets a tin man, rusted solid in the woods, and a cowardly lion who was hiding from his shadow. Through her conversations with each of them she learns that the scarecrow was not given a brain when he was made, the tin man’s maker did not give him a heart, and the lion was born without courage. The three are so impressed with Dorothy’s authenticity, integrity, and courage that they form a bond of trust with her. Dorothy is able to describe a new direction for them and they become her dedicated followers for the remainder of the journey.

Through the many perils of the journey Dorothy nurtures the behaviors of her followers who find new potential in themselves in the very areas that their makers left them short. The scarecrow begins to act like he has a brain, the tin man starts acting like he has a heart, and the lion acts like he has courage. These new behaviors redefine their potential and they abandon their old self-stories as they begin to see a new and viable future for themselves.

When they finally reach Emerald City they discover that the Wizard of OZ is an ordinary person who has no magical powers. However, the wizard is masterful through his self-awareness and empathy. He observes the emerging potential in Dorothy’s followers and acknowledges their new behaviors by giving the scarecrow a diploma, a heart-shaped clock necklace to the tin man, and a medal to the lion. To Dorothy he offers her hope in her belief that,” there’s no place like home.” The movie ends with Dorothy awakening in her bed from what was in fact a dream.

There is no magic that saves us from the challenges in our environment – all we have is leadership. Our behavior defines our potential and it starts with integrity, courage, and an orientation to the future. We manage these behaviors in ourselves and nurture them in others. We are authentic in our conversations and they become the workhorse that establishes the relationships that we need to reach an endlessly expanding potential. We seek to understand our many environments by engaging in them. Through this engagement we shape our reality and define a future for ourselves and the many followers who trust us.


Al Bolea is the former CEO/GM of Dubai Petroleum (the profits exceeded $1 billion per year) and a retired BP executive. His industry career spans almost forty years, including assignments in the US, UK and Middle East. He lectures at the University of Houston, and is the Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Leadership at the University of Alaska.  He has been a leadership expert for the U.S. Department of Energy and an in-resident CEO and lecturer at the University of Houston, Bauer School of Business.  He holds an MBA among other degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and Robert Morris University, as well as program certificates from INSEAD, Paris, and Cambridge University, UK.  You can contact him at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  and visit his website