There are few things more inspiring than seeing a natural leader in action as they lead a group and inspire them into action. All of us secretly want to have the ability to lead and inspire, and we hope that by watching others lead some of their charisma will rub off on us. It's understandable then that Hollywood would love to portray great leaders too, and there are countless films that deal with the subject. Here we will look at some of the best films on the subject that all managers should at some point sit down and watch...
Most managers don't have such dramatic leadership roles as Leonidas of 300, but all of us wish we could inspire valour and honor in the away that he does. When this isn't about slow motion fight scenes, it's about Leonidas inspiring his troops and refusing to stand down. And talk about a leader who leads by example.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
If you want a more cerebral examination of a leader, then following Captain Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander is a great look at a leader under pressure. Russell Crowe's charisma makes him a great leader and you should also watch him in Gladiator and Robin Hood while you're looking for leadership examples.
Conan the Destroyer
Before Arnie went from bodybuilder to Governor, his character Conan went from barbarian to king. According to this film the secret to leadership is huge biceps. I don't necessarily disagree...
Mutiny on the Bounty
And of course it won't only benefit you to see leadership going well, and for an example of bad leadership the early portions of Mutiny on the Bounty should tell you what not to do.
If there was one person I looked up to as a kid it was the cartoon version of Optimus Prime – and with good reason. He was charismatic, gentle, heroic, noble and wise and he had a booming voice and kick ass energy axe. This is the guy you would want to lead you into battle, and while the Michael Bay films have made him a little trigger happy, he still has that inspiring voice and epic presence. Even if he is CGI...
12 Angry Men
12 Angry Men is a film about one man's ability to influence others, in this case the members of the jury. So good is this film at depicting the way that ideas spread and influence others that I was actually made to watch it in one of my psychology lectures at university.
Shaun of the Dead
Okay so this isn't the most serious film in the world, but Simon Pegg still does a great job of hamming up his role as the unlikely leader of his neighborhood at the end of the world and depicts many of the tensions that would probably rise in such a situation.
If you want a film about the intricate policies of leadership and organizations in general then The Godfather is like the equivalent of The Art of War. A great popcorn flick with lots of shooting, but also a very deep and layered look at business and leadership.
Braveheart is one of the most well-known films about leadership out there and uses inspiration from history as well as the ample charisma of Mel Gibson to inspire audiences. If this is the kind of leadership you want to see more of then there are plenty more in this vein from Robin Hood to The Last of the Mohicans to Defiance.
Another great example of the power of the individual, this is Woody Allen's take on Braveheart – CGI cartoon style. And oddly it's actually quite inspiring...