Peter Belmi, Department of Leadership and Organizational Behavior

“Alexander Hamilton’s Path to Power”

At Darden, I teach an elective called Paths to Power. I developed this elective to help students understand how to exercise power effectively, and to help them rethink their deeply-held assumptions about the sources of success and influence in organizations. Power is a topic that makes many people uncomfortable, but it is a fundamental reality in much of organizational life and the primary mechanism by which things get done.

My dream project is to bring a few select students to see the musical Hamilton at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. The show follows the remarkable life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and the inherent dilemmas and choices that he had to face on his rise to power. My hope is that by taking students to see the show, they will not only gain a historical perspective on Hamilton’s rise to power, but more importantly, it will inspire them to think about their own personal path to power and how their career ambitions fit with their own personal values and aspirations.

The musical also highlights a key issue in the United States: the issue of inequality and social mobility. Hamilton was an immigrant, who pulled himself from poverty and eventually became a key figure into the revolution that helped create our nation. Inequality is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and solving it will largely fall in the hands of the next generation of business leaders. My hope is that the show will give students a more sophisticated understanding of why “power begets power”, and inspire them to think creatively about how they can create a transforming difference when they step into positions of power someday.

After the show, I would like to invite students to debrief over a meal. My hope is that we will use this time to have a deeply personal discussion about their hopes and fears as they climb to the top, what they see as their social and ethical responsibilities as powerful leaders someday, their personal definitions of success, and most importantly, why attaining power is important to them. I will also use this time to invite them to share with each other what they’ve learned about the world, about others, about themselves, and the things that they will do differently moving forward.

Budget for up to 4 Students:

Travel to Washington DC: $100.00

Hamilton Tickets: $500 x 4 (+1 instructor) = $2,500.00

Brunch (or dinner) after the show: $400

Total Expenses: $3,000.00