You can watch a movie for entertainment, inspiration, or even to learn something. Sometimes a movie provides all three. While not a complete list, I have compiled five movies for leaders. Call them leadership movies that you’ll be glad you watched or re-watched. They come from different genres and different eras. While you might not initially think of them in a leadership light, when you watch them now, you will see the valuable lessons.
This was a multiple Academy Award winning movie based on the story of King George VI, the future King of England in pre-war 1930’s Great Britain. Saddled with a lifelong stammer, the movie is about how he overcomes this issue with the help of speech therapist. I see this as a leadership movie with themes of duty and confidence. There are also lessons in coaching – both that leaders need coaches, and how coaching can make a difference in our performance.
The Apollo 13 mission was meant to put the third set of Americans on the moon. The movie shows how NASA must devise a strategy to return the crew to Earth safely after the spacecraft undergoes massive internal damage. As a leadership movie, there are many themes and messages here, including how to deal with crisis and solving problems. There are also lessons around relationships and how they impact a leader’s success.
This movie is based on the events around the presidency of Abraham Lincoln (and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, A Team of Rivals). You can’t watch or read anything about Lincoln and not find leadership lessons. Look for lessons about how he chose and led his team (both his cabinet and his generals), and the importance of vision and a constant overriding purpose.
This movie is about a very small town high school basketball team from Indiana in the 1950’s having a very improbable season. This is a leadership movie for the ages (ok, I love this movie), with themes of belief, fundamentals, redemption, forgiveness, and trusting the team.
This is the lightest, and the least likely movie to make this list. A pair of Broadway producers and performers find themselves in an interesting situation with their commanding officer several years after World War II in this musical featuring the music of Irving Berlin. Why is this a leadership movie? It has big messages around trust, having a clear reason why, and the value of being other focused.
I tried not to spoil these movies for you if you haven’t seen them. Whether you have or you haven’t, hopefully my few thoughts will give you a new filter to watch each movie through. Perhaps you will take different lessons than I did, and that is, of course, perfectly fine. My goal has been to encourage you to watch and to point you to some lessons that will help you be more than entertained, but will help you become a more effective leader.
What movies for leaders should I add to this list? Share them in the comments below.
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