Leaders looking for guidance on developing their skills may turn to a variety of sources, from role models and mentors to podcasts and books. One source that individuals may not immediately identify as good for business leadership lessons is film.
Certainly, the majority of movies that come out each year do not have the same leadership lessons that individuals can learn through other sources. At the same time, there are a number of movies that provide excellent guidance on how to handle difficult issues or lead with more confidence. Below are seven of the best movies for business leaders to check out and what they have to offer.
Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar for his performance in The Revenant. The film tells the story of a man left for dead and his struggle to stay alive after being attacked by a bear. What the movie teaches business leaders is the importance of flexibility in overcoming hardship.
Sometimes, leaders will, like DiCaprio’s character, be tempted by the idea of giving up. However, there is almost always a way through the predicament, even if it requires sacrifice. Guy Kawasaki, a former Apple marketing professional, says that this movie is more similar to the typical experience of an entrepreneur than the pop culture narrative of meeting venture capitalists, securing funding, and generating revenue almost immediately.
The Social Network
A movie that was inspired by the story of the founding of Facebook, The Social Network may fall under the fairytale of pop culture that Kawasaki warns us to avoid. At the same time, the movie does have one very important lesson to teach business leaders, which is that a whole empire can be built to meet one simple need. Once an unmet need is identified, it can actually be difficult to stop a company from growing. Individuals can also look at The Social Network as a study of how the Millennial generation thinks as well as get insight on the common challenges that startups face.
Glengarry Glen Ross
This classic film from 1992 stars Jack Lemmon and Al Pacino and examines what lengths some people will go through to succeed when given the right incentives. The movie is an adaption of a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that was also a Tony award-winning play.
Glengarry Glen Ross paints a dark picture of sales departments at some companies, showing how dishonesty, deceit, and theft can be ubiquitous. However, the movie also shows how this behavior can lead to a company’s downfall and teaches business leaders about the importance of honesty, transparency, and integrity.
The Pursuit of Happyness
Some aspiring leaders may be surprised to see this comedy on the list. At the same time, the film tells the true story of a man named Chris Gardner who lived on the streets of San Francisco with his young son while struggling to succeed in the business world. The film teaches a number of important lessons.
First, it shows that quite a bit of education takes place outside of the classroom. Business leaders need to understand that classroom learning is only part of the equation and “street smarts” are also necessary for success. Second, life may not turn out as anticipated despite our best efforts. Individuals must be flexible, adapting and changing as necessary. Often, determination is one of the most important aspects of success in the world of business.
Starring Brad Pitt, Moneyball tells the story of a baseball team manager who decides to forego the traditional methods of building a winning team. Instead of signing the star players who demand a lot of money, he turns to statistical analyses to determine who is best for the team.
Business leaders who think that this movie upholds the value of statistical analysis completely miss the point. Moneyball is about breaking from tradition and challenging traditional viewpoints. When people think outside the box and experiment, they can achieve great results.
One of the more obvious additions to this list, Jerry Maguire makes its message very clear. All aspiring business leaders can take an important lesson away from the film. Tom Cruise plays Jerry Maguire, a man who becomes disillusioned with his job, which requires him to make recommendations to clients that hurt them while furthering the mission of the agency. He loses his job when he decides to dedicate himself to fewer clients to give them the time and dedication they deserve. When he follows his heart to create a company that values the customer above all else, everything falls into place for him.
12 Angry Men
This classic film about a hung jury can teach business leaders a great deal about the art of persuasion and the skill needed to build a consensus. Henry Fonda, who plays the main character, forces each juror to examine personal prejudice and come to the case with more detachment. At the beginning, virtually all jurors are convinced of the defendant’s guilt, yet each one changes his mind and starts to see the flaws in the prosecution’s evidence.