When Moomintroll is going on an expedition to the Lonely Mountains to learn about the comet, Moominmamma, as usual, does the practical things: she ”had got up very early to pack their rucksacks, and was bursting to and fro with woolly stockings and packets of sandwiches… stuffing in an umbrella and a frying pan”. Otherwise it is Moominpappa, the highest executive, who makes the decision to encourage the staff with a comfortably dangerous business trip.
Moomintroll is doubtless a leader. He gets all the ideas, as grand as ”may the ground swallow me up”. No one would question his leadership and heroism. The little animal Sniff is not a leader and does not venture into new territories: ”I shall have to tell Moomintroll about this, and we can explore it together, because it would be a bit risky for me to go alone”. Sniff feels helpless without Moomintroll, and he is used to get what he wants through childish behaviour.
No company can function without an expensive consultant, and Moominvalley has Muskrat. This philosopher and apocalyptic prophet allows himself to be pampered with meals while he is resting in a hammock and every now and then comes up with good advice, such as: ”We cannot do anything about it anyway, so we may just as well take it philosophically”. However, Muskrat does in fact share his knowledge about the quest destination, the Observatory, or, translated into everyday speech, ”a place where you look at stars”.
The Hemulens are no leaders, and not even good consultants since they can only focus on one thing at a time. Unlike Muskrat, they have a scientific approach to their objectives and therefore worthless for concrete tasks. The Snork wants to be a leader, but seldom gets an opportunity. He likes order and always wants to call meetings in which he appoints himself chairman and secretary, makes everybody keep to the point, sets tasks and postpones urgent matters until the next meeting. Asked by Moominpappa to organise the move to the cave, he says blissfully: ”First I will need a notebook, ruled, and a pencil and a measuring tape and a sketch of the cave in correct perspective and in right scale. Then you must give me a list of all your possessions. Put three stars on things you like very much, two on the ones you just like and one on those you can get on without”. This is a down-to-earth, yet in the current situation hardly an efficient approach.
His sister, Snork Maiden, has no leadership aspirations, but she is good at practical things: ”weave mats of grass, and brew soothing herb drinks if you had tummy-ache”. She comes with many ingenious solutions during the journey, but is always ready to push forward Moomintroll instead.
But who is the humble, but indispensable leader of the whole enterprise? Who makes the fire and prepares coffee when moods go down? Who tells stories and plays tunes on his mouth-organ to cheers up his friends? Who is the citizen of the world, who has experience from previous and still more dangerous journeys? Who pulls out the leader who has carelessly fallen into an abyss? Who provides a knife, (”the new one with a corkscrew and an instrument-for-taking-the stones-out-of-horses’-hooves”), when Moomintroll must save Snork Maiden from the poisonous bush of the dangerous Angostura family? Who comes up with the idea to cross the dry sea on stilts and teaches the others how to do it? The formal leader, Moomintroll, starts looking up to him from start and finally admits that he is the best friend. And when the leader’s compass is broken, Snufkin says happily: ” We’ll go by intuition”. Intuition is a good leader’s foremost skill.
To his companions, Snufkin says: ” I knew that heroes are always rescued in adventure stories”. This is a true leader speaking.