Leadership from Huck Finn and Comparison to Real World

Leadership Examples from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

  • Loyalty
  • Courage

Leadership Examples Observed in the RWL Program– Comparison to Huckleberry Finn


Samuel Butler, an English novelist and critic from the late 1800’s, once penned, “Loyalty is still the same, whether it wins or loses the game; true as a dial to the sun, although it be not shined upon.” Loyalty is a leadership trait that is becoming more appreciated, as this generation has unprecedented capabilities of changing jobs with frequency, as travel is for the most part a non-factor. For example, it is a common occurrence for people to have changed careers seven times (Wall Street Journal, September 2010). Prior to the mid 1900s, people would have one or possibly two careers for their life, as the opportunities to be mobile and leave for new jobs were rare, thus, the concept of loyalty in the workplace was taken for granted until recently (relatively speaking). Now, in the ever-changing world of finding and replacing workers, loyalty is becoming a more valued characteristic.

Employee loyalty was witnessed in the RWL Program at a number of the restaurants at Long John Silver’s. Heading into the worksite, I thought that the majority of workers would only work there for a short time, then “trade up” to a different store or company. Instead, I witnessed a company that tries to take care of its hard working employees and in return some of them stay for long periods of time. One employee has been at her location for more than 30 years. When repeat customers came in she would always say something to them, whether it was a quick “ Hello, how are you doing today, John?” or a long drawn out conversation, she knew many customers well. Some of the customers claimed that she was the only reason that they kept coming back to that store. This employee has been offered higher paying jobs, but insists that she loves working there and no one can take care of her customers as well. Her loyalty was contagious and other staff employees viewed her as a leader and mentor.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn showcases a fantastic example of loyalty. Huck Finn, for all of his mischievous ways, is an extremely loyal character. One example of Huck’s loyalty revolved around another character, Jim. Jim was a runaway slave who Huck met and teamed up with. Huck and Jim became steadfast companions, taking care of each other. Huck and Jim ventured upon some people paying very handsome rewards for runaway slaves. Huck may have had some thoughts as to turning his friend in to receive the reward money, but he remained courageously loyal to Jim.

Loyalty is a revered characteristic, whether remaining loyal to a company for more than 30 years or not selling out your friend. In most companies, loyalty is rewarded with extra vacation days and small bonuses, however the intangible assets of having a good, loyal, employee are hard to measure. While at the worksites, I learned that the term loyalty is not changing, but perhaps its appreciation is.

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About the Program

The Real World Leaders - Real World Students Program is a leadership program created in partnership with the University of Kentucky that enables students to work at different work sites across America and observe a wide variety of leadership skills, traits and characteristics.

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