And the Oscar for Best Leadership Lesson Goes to…

This Sunday night, millions of people around the world will be watching as stars parade down the red carpet and the Academy Awards are handed out.

And the Oscar for Best Leadership Lesson Goes to… image Oscar 225x300OscarAt their best, movies touch something deep inside us and remind us of our best (and sometimes our worst) aspects. The finest movies give us great characters and memorable dialogue that embody important lessons for how we can better live our lives.

For me, there are three movies that have had an important impact on the way I view leadership. Coincidently, each won Best Picture at the Oscars in their respective years.

So without further ado, the winners for my favorite Oscar movies are the following:

Forrest Gump — The leadership lesson I drew here was to never mistake kindness for weakness – and to always remember that wisdom is most effectively taught in simple, memorable principles. In my eyes, Forrest was a principles-based leader. He operated from a core set of values, assumed good intent, and made an effort to always do the best with what he had. He was also wise enough to learn from others (Mama Gump, Lieutenant Dan, Jenny) as well as his own experiences. Forrest ended up being the rock that everyone else depended on, and he had a knack for packaging all of his learning in ways that we’ll always remember. Who can’t complete the phrase, “Life is like a box of chocolates…?”

The Godfather — Here the leadership lesson for me was to never choose sides against the family. Motives aside, the strength in unity and commitment to team are powerfully captured in this simple phrase. Life is a team sport. Engage in rigorous constructive debate inside the house, but once the decision has been made, show unity of purpose and execution outside the house.

Gladiator — The lasting leadership lesson here was to always stand for a cause greater than yourself. When presented with the opportunity to serve as Caesar, Maximus declined. When his personal dreams were crushed, he fought to right a wrong and to return Rome to the people, a cause much greater than his own personal gain.

So what movies have you learned from – and how have they shaped how you view the world? Let me know in the comments. In the meantime, enjoy the Oscars and pass the popcorn!

(Photo: Flickr, iboman)

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