Harry Potter and Leonard Hofstadter from The Big Bang Theory are widely loved underdog leads, and the similarities between them are quite interesting. Both of them are uncomfortable with too much attention, are a bit socially awkward, although they have a tight-knit group of peers who are almost like a surrogate family.
But what makes these pop culture icons such successes as leaders? It’s important to note that they are both essentially pack-builders and make for very competent alphas to their respective squads.
Leonard: Knows The Strengths And Weaknesses Of His Friends
Leonard, Sheldon, Raj, and Howard have been friends for a decade and yet, Leonard is the most sensitive one in the squad, it’s one of the many reasons why Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment becomes a hearth for the group.
It’s certainly no thanks to Sheldon who can be quite icy and indifferent about his friends’ problems, but Leonard has always lent the shoulder his friends need to cry on, even though he had quite a bit going on in his life, he always knew how to compartmentalize and that’s what makes him a great pack-builder.
Harry: Puts His Friends Safety First
Harry Potter’s problems were a lot more high stakes than Leonard (whose biggest challenge was steering his roommate from the Sheldonian calendar). But Harry appreciated his surrogate family a lot more, primarily because he never had a real one. Ron, Hermione, and his peers at Hogwarts are all that he had and were the only people he considered worth saving.
And Harry was astoundingly selfless when it came to safeguarding his friends and was constantly on the lookout for them. One big reason for that was, of course, the fact that he realized that being friends with him put them at great risk, and it made him all the more anxious about their survival
Leonard: Tries To Rectify His Friends When They’re Wrong
Leonard has not been too instrumental in curbing Howard’s blatant misogyny, but he has often been the only person in the group who was adaptable enough to rectify the squad’s problematic patterns. Like when Sheldon was sexist in his assessment of women or when he rage-quit his job and went through a weird serape phase.
Leonard has often been an accidental guardian for his friends, and especially Sheldon because truth be told, he was the most accommodating member of the group, who also went through the most noticeable personal transformation, which made him more functional as the leader or rather a kind of social glue for the group.
Harry: He Is Quick To Acknowledge A Problem
This is perhaps the biggest difference between the two bespectacled heroes. Leonard had often resorted to denial when faced with a challenge, or confronted with an uncomfortable truth. Harry never had that luxury, since most of his problems had immediate and tragic repercussions.
Even as a kid, Harry was immensely grounded and was very connected with his own trauma. This actually shaped him to be a better leader because he was strong enough to admit an issue that could end up changing his world, even when people around him were pretending to overlook it.
Leonard: Can Be A Great Ally
Most people don’t realize it, but an ideal leader is also the best ally because they always have their teammates’ backs, even when they are going through an acute personal struggle. There was a reason why Leonard often ended up playing the agony aunt to Howard, Raj, or even Stuart because as fans have observed he was the most socially receptive person in the squad.
Plus, the isolation and bullying he had faced as a child had made him aware of the kind of behavior that makes people feel the worst, and Leonard actually used his past to be a source of positivity to his friends.
Harry: Okay With Sharing Limelight
Harry has often come face-to-face with serious glory and stardom but fame wasn’t exactly a priority for him. Some fans have commented that he was probably wary of the superstardom of being ‘the boy who lived.’ But in reality, he had only learned the significance of his own life when he turned eleven.
For a bullied, unloved kid, the idea of glory could be a really heady one. However, Harry was clearly never obsessed with the idea of eminence or being known as a hero and was more than happy to let any of his friends share his limelight.
Leonard: Not Insecure About Accomplished Peers
Leonard was the only one of TBBT whose career never saw any real or groundbreaking success, and in fact, his professional trajectory was kept kind of vague, perhaps to establish him as the underdog and an inferior scientist to Sheldon.
Nevertheless, unlike Sheldon, the success of his friends, or his girlfriends never irked Leonard or brought out jealousy in him, which is quite astonishing considering how cutthroat academia can be. A true leader is the happiest when the people around him are thriving and since Leonard has always cheered on his friends to motivate them.
Harry: Brave Enough To Take A Call
A pack-builder also has to be brave enough to own up to his own mistakes like a true alpha. Harry Potter was decisive enough to make brutal calls to action, but noticeably never put his friends’ lives in jeopardy, they simply followed him without any sense of expectations.
Like when he decided to drop out of Hogwarts to go in search of the Horcruxes, it was perhaps the bravest decision of his life, especially since he had almost no prospects other than his academic ones. But although he was just a teenager, he was gutsy enough to know that he was probably the only one who could save the world he and his friends knew.
Leonard: In Touch With His Own Pain
The TBBT fandom has often criticized the show for trivializing mental trauma and bullying and accompanying tragic storylines with laugh tracks. But the show was self-aware enough to show viewers how a childhood of isolation and loneliness can make people a lot more grounded.
Leonard, especially, was surprisingly brave enough to make light of the lack of parental affection, or the years of bullying, and never used them as excuses for lashing out. A good leader has to be in touch with his own pain, to be able to communicate and connect with others in a transparent way.
Harry: Never Played The Victim Card
Harry had been through unbelievable tragedies, and he could have easily used his status as the chosen one and his painful past to become another Gilderoy Lockhart, a phony and opportunistic social climber with no real talent. But even in his weakest moments, Harry has never used his trauma to get away with his mistakes.
This is astounding for a young boy who is dropped suddenly in an alien world, especially since the only connection he had between his new life and his old one is his parents. But Harry became a leader not because he was ‘the boy who lived’ but because he chose to be a lot more than that.