[FOUNTAIN]Leaders could learn from TV“She is noble.” “She is so talented and lives by her principles.” “She has an iron fist in a velvet glove.”
The compliments are not for a political leader but for Court Lady Han, a character played by Yang Mi-gyeong in a historical drama called “Daejanggeum” on MBC-TV. One of the highest-rated shows in history, “Daejanggeum,” which is set in the Joseon Dynasty, draws one of every two television viewers.
The protagonist of the hit series is Janggeum, with actress Lee Yeong-ae in the title role. But Court Lady Han, a mentor of Janggeum, is the most beloved character. Online fan cafes have sprung up, and the MBC bulletin board is filled with compliments for Court Lady Han and Ms. Yang.
So why are viewers so enthralled with Court Lady Han? Ms. Yang’s seasoned performance is surely a pleasure to watch, but many fans say they love the character’s straightforward personality and pure heart. Perhaps viewers see a leader’s role model in Court Lady Han.
There are different kinds of leaders, from laissez-faire types to dictators to businessmen. Court Lady Han resembles the “super leader,” defined by organizational behavior scholars in the 1980s. Also known as vision-oriented or reform-driven, this leader encourages and motivates people to contribute their best to the organization. A super leader realizes and implements visions, wins trust, and pursues innovative developments.
Court Lady Han embodies all these qualities. She encourages Janggeum, an attendant, to become the best chef in the palace and helps her to fulfill her dream. She also places her faith in her staff. When she competes with a rival to become the top chef, she willingly takes Janggeum as her assistant, even if she knows Janggeum has temporarily lost her sense of taste. Court Lady Han knows well the art of cooking and that earnestness and devotion is the essence of her art.
The character is scheduled for an early demise, as Court Lady Han is to be framed and killed by a rival. Once they found out about the plot twist, fans began to plead with the shows’ writers for her life. One fan even wrote in the MBC bulletin board the show would be better off with Janggeum killed, but Court Lady Han was indispensable.
When politicians are busy making excuses to lead and speaking empty words, is it too much to hope to see a superleader in real life?
by Lee Kyu-youn
The writer is a deputy social affairs news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.