Lights! Camera! Action!
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Lights! Camera! Action!

Lights! Camera! Action!

You’ve been tackling some demanding subjects these past few months, so this month I’m going to congratulate you and give a month off. Well, not entirely. It’s more like a month to learn about leadership in a different way – through movies about great leaders.

This month, I’m encouraging you to see one more movie of your choice that will give you an opportunity to reflect on what leadership means to you and to deepen and enrich your leadership.

Naturally, I have a few recommendations, some of which may surprise you.

  • Elizabeth. This 1998 movie starring Kate Blanchett is an excellent portrayal of the complex and competing decisions leaders must make, and the journey beyond the idealism of the new leader to the vision of the maturing leader.In work, we tend to use metaphors that in this movie are all too real. Her enemies really were trying to kill her. The political wars were real wars. Warning: there are several violent scenes in this movie, so if this bothers you, don’t choose this movie.
  • Gosford Park. Surprised? This murder mystery movie is about a weekend at a country estate, but watch for Helen Mirren’s character and what she says at the end of the movie.In a service-driven economy and in a collaboration-driven work environment, we are all in some way servants to one another, and there is an intriguing angle to be applied to our modern work environment here. See if you see the same thing.
  • Lincoln. Obvious, I know. Still, has anyone done a better job of showing us a close-up of several critical weeks in the life of a leader who weighed the trade-offs involved in a complex and ever-shifting environment, who created and stuck to a risky strategy, and who balanced warm relationships and raw power? I think not.
  • Shine A Light. I owed you another surprise after handing you Lincoln. Stick with me on this. In Shine A Light, I see Mick Jagger large and in charge, yet handling the other artists with the respect and egoless finesse that has kept this band together for 50 years.I also see genuine confidence (not raging ego) in what they are putting out for their paying customers. I’m sure they all have plenty of ego to go around, but when it’s time to work, they’re completely focused and in flow and earning their money. Isn’t the ability to bring that out in people something that distinguishes the great leaders from the jerks?
  • Whale Rider. Longtime readers saw this one coming because I dedicated an entire article and blog post to this profound story of a young leader’s journey. Every leader should see and reflect on this movie. You will become a better leader. For discussion questions to guide you, check out

What do you think of my recommendations? Thumbs up or thumbs down? What movies have shaped your leadership?