Skip to main content

Leadership Lessons From Movies

Toward the beginning of Joseph Lalonde’s book, Reel Leadership, he shares, “We’re going to delve into the leaderships lessons we can find in movies. We’re going to discover that movies are a fantastic way to learn, grow, and engross yourself in leadership. So, sit back; get ready. We’re going to dive into some reel leadership.” 

You are going to enjoy the journey Lalonde takes you on, by first setting the stage as he chronicles the history of film, the history of leadership, and the science of learning, and then while he shares some of the best leadership lessons from his vast catalogue of movie watching through the years. 

“I want to encourage you to think of movies as visual fables. They are telling stories that move the mind, body, and soul. They can touch you emotionally, spiritually, and even physically. There is power in movies,” says Lalonde. 

Toward the book’s end, Lalonde provides the framework for a five-step process of gaining leadership insights from the movies. “It will change the way you and your team views movies for the rest of your lives,” says Lalonde. 

I agree with Nathan Magnuson who reviewed the book and said, “I don’t think I’ll ever watch a movie the same way again. In addition to viewing for entertainment value, I’ll be asking myself what I can learn, how I would handle the situations in the story, and how I can be a better leader in my own reality.” 

And, in fact, after reading, Reel Leadership, you may now also want to watch again some of your favorite movies with a keen eye toward discovering the leadership lessons you’ll glean from your new perspective viewing. 


Joseph Lalonde

Earlier this year, Lalonde shared these insights with us: 

Question: What are your one or two favorite leadership quotes from movies? 

Lalonde: It's always challenging to pick a favorite quote or movie. I'm going to provide three quotes that mean a lot to me and have helped me understand myself and leadership better. The first is by Director Dewey in, Jason Bourne. Dewey said, "You’re never going to find peace until you admit who you really are." So many of us are discontent because we don't know who we really are. 

Another great quote is "All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you." by Gandalf in, Lord Of The Rings. It's a challenging quote because we don't know how much time we have left. However, if we begin making decisions, we can make the most of our time. 

The last quote I want to share is "I'll be back." by the Terminator in the, Terminator, movie. This is such an iconic line and has proven to be true for the character. What would happen if, as leaders, we continue to show up and return? 

Question: What is the most inspiring leadership lesson you've learned from a movie? 

Lalonde: I want to go with something different here. I want to go back to the movie, We Bought A Zoo. In it, Benjamin Mee made a crazy decision. He and his children bought a zoo. Throughout the movie, Mee talked about needing 20 seconds of insane courage to do something amazing. I think we could take his lesson to heart and begin working through our issues in 20 seconds of courage at a time. 

Question: What is your favorite movie of all time and why is it your favorite? 

Lalonde: Once again, it's so hard to choose a favorite movie. I have such a love for Star WarsDie Hard, and other movies. I often cite those as favorite movies. I think favorites ebb and flow as we age. It also depends on the type of mood I'm in. One movie that has really stuck with me is, Baby Driver. The cinematography was stunning. The music was top-notch. The story was engaging and entertaining. Let's go with, Baby Driver, for this one. 

Question: In addition to your love of movies you have a passion for running. What leadership lessons have you learned from running? 

Lalonde: Yes, running is definitely a passion of mine. I've been running for years after hearing Kevin Miller discuss his passion for running on his now defunct podcast Free Agent Academy. There are so many lessons that I have learned from running. Here are three of them: 

Keep putting one foot in front of the other. This is how you make progress. 

Stop comparing yourself to others. I found myself struggling to run because I compared myself to others. When I let go of that, I found myself enjoying running so much more. The same goes for leadership. Stop comparing yourself to your past leaders or leaders you respect. You're running your own race.

Have a finish line in mind. For every race you run, there's a finish line. Knowing and seeing your finish line not only gives you an ending point, but also it can encourage you to push harder, faster, and with more intensity than you had been running with. 

BONUS: Lead for a cause. I run with Team World Vision to raise money for clean water for those who lack access to it. This consistently gives me a reason to lace up my shoes and run. Without this cause or reason to run, I would run a lot less. 

In fact, I'm running the Metro Health Grand Rapids Half Marathon in October to continue the efforts of bringing clean water to those in need. I move my feet for those who need it. The same goes for your leadership. When you have a cause or a reason, you find the energy and desire to keep moving forward. 

Question: What is the next leadership book you plan to read? 

Lalonde: I just finished a great book called, Thursday Is The New Friday, by Joe Sanok. It helps us understand the changing ways of doing work. It was also interesting to hear how our workweeks came to be. 

I'm currently reading, What The Heck Is EOS, by Gino Wickman and Tom Bouwer. Our leadership team at work is going through this book to help everyone align. 

The book I plan on reading or, probably more correctly, listen to is, Hero On A Mission, by Donald Miller. I loved his memoirs, Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles In A Thousand Years. I thought, Building A Story Brand, was a valuable business tool. And now he has, Hero On A Mission. It's on my to-read/listen list! 


Finally, discover some of the best leadership lessons from a vast variety of movies by reading Reel Leadership, delivered by Lalonde in a conversational style as though you are his best friend with a shared passion for movies and learning about leadership. 

Learn more from Lalonde via his website where he helps to empower leaders with the tools to thrive in a hectic world.


Popular posts from this blog

REI Sets The Example For Creating And Living Core Values

Are you a leader who is struggling with how to write your company's core values? You can learn from Recreational Equipment Incorporated , better known as REI -- an outdoor gear and apparel co-op.  As described in Amy Lyman's new book, The Trustworthy Leader , REI concisely articulates its core values in this series of statements: Authenticity -- We are true to the outdoors. Quality -- We provide trustworthy products and services Service -- We serve others with expertise and enthusiasm. Respect -- We listen and learn form each other. Integrity -- We live by a code of rock-solid ethics, honesty, and decency. Balance -- We encourage each other to enjoy all aspects of life. "The words contained in the values are not much different from those found in the value statements of any organization. So what makes it different at REI?  The people at REI actively seek to live out their values ," explains Lyman.

Effective Listening: Do's And Don'ts

Here are some great tips from Michelle Tillis Lederman's book, The 11 Laws of Likability .  They are all about: what to do and what not to do to be a leader who's an effective listener : Do : Maintain eye contact Limit your talking Focus on the speaker Ask questions Manage your emotions Listen with your eyes and ears Listen for ideas and opportunities Remain open to the conversation Confirm understanding, paraphrase Give nonverbal messages that you are listening (nod, smile) Ignore distractions Don't : Interrupt Show signs of impatience Judge or argue mentally Multitask during a conversation Project your ideas Think about what to say next Have expectations or preconceived ideas Become defensive or assume you are being attacked Use condescending, aggressive, or closed body language Listen with biases or closed to new ideas Jump to conclusions or finish someone's sentences

Sample Of Solid Business Guiding Principles

I really like these  10 guiding business principles  that San Antonio, TX headquartered insurance company  USAA has lived by: Exceed customer expectations Live the Golden Rule (treat others with courtesy and respect) Be a leader Participate and contribute Pursue excellence Work as a team Share knowledge Keep it simple (make it easy for customers to do business with us and for us to work together) Listen and communicate Have fun Too many companies don't make it simple for their customers to do business with them. Is it easy for your customers to: Buy from you? Make returns? Get pricing and terms? Receive timely responses to their e-mails? Quickly get answers when phoning your company? You can find more examples of companies with impressive guiding principles in the book,  1001 Ways To Energize Employee s .

How To Show The Value Of Your Work

Today brings a new book and step-by-step guide for specialists, professionals, managers and independent contracts who want to achieve success in their work. Specifically, the book teaches how to demonstrate the value of your initiatives, using a simplified version of the ROI Methodology .  Patricia Pulliam Phillips and Jack J. Phillips , authors of the book, Show The Value Of What You Do ,  developed the ROI Methodology in the 1970s and refined it in the 1980s when their first book describing the process was published. The ROI Methodology was implemented globally in the 1990s and since then has become one of the most used evaluation systems in the world, as it is used routinely in more than 6,000 organizations in 70 countries.  This new book describes six easy steps to measure and improve the success of any project, program, initiative, or work that you do.  “Our goal is to help individuals and teams achieve and measure success and to shift the thinking about projects and work

How To Express Genuine Interest In Your Customers

Author  Steve Curtin , in his book,  Delight Your Customers , suggests you and your employees do these  12 things to express genuine interest in your customers : Offer personalized greetings Use names Practice assertive hospitality Ask questions Cosset Anticipate needs Remember preferences Pay attention to details Display a sense of urgency Solicit feedback Offer personal farewells Follow up on service

Key Takeaways For Leaders From The Book, All Are Welcome

Awhile back, I posted highlights and key takeaways from the book, All Are Welcome – HowTo Build A Real Workplace Culture Of Inclusion That Delivers Results , by Cynthia Owyoung . Upon recently browsing the book again, these additional takeaways came to light:  DEIB : Diversity in the workplace focuses on representation. Equity is giving people what they need to succeed. Inclusion is enabling full participation by everyone. Belonging is connecting people emotionally.  Onboarding employees tips for leaders : Get personally involved with the onboarding process on day one. This is your culture, and first impressions are huge . Assign an empathetic hiring buddy for each new hire. These are ambassadors of your company’s culture. Send a gift or a handwritten note to every new hire as soon as you make the job offer. This should come from the CEO or, at least, the hiring manager.  Ensuring your employees understand and believe in your company’s mission statement : Meet

How To Create And Live A Powerful Personal Brand

In her new book, Selling Yourself , Dr. Cindy McGovern shows you how to step-by-step create a powerful personal brand. Using her five-step strategy, you’ll learn how to build an impressive, authentic brand, live your brand and sell your brand.  “Whether your brand has created itself, you’ve outgrown your original brand, you’re ready for the next level, or you’ve changed your passion or purpose, this book is for you,” shares McGovern.  You’ll learn how to showcase your brand to expand your opportunities, establish trust, build deeper connections, have more confidence to ask for what you want, leave lasting impressions, and finally to express gratitude.  One of my favorite parts of the book is where McGovern includes this quote from Mahatma Gandhi :  Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.   Dr. Cindy McGovern 

6 Ways To Seek Feedback To Improve Your Performance In The Workplace

Getting feedback is an important way to improve performance at work. But sometimes, it can be hard to seek out, and even harder to hear.  “Feedback is all around you. Your job is to find it, both through asking directly and observing it,” says David L. Van Rooy, author of the new book,  Trajectory: 7 Career Strategies to Take You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be . As today's guest post, Van Rooy offers these  six tips for how to get the feedback you need to improve performance at work . Guest Post By David L. Van Rooy 1.       Don’t forget to as k :  One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming things are going perfectly (until they make a catastrophic mistake). By not asking, you’re missing out on opportunities for deep feedback: the difficult, critical feedback that gives you constructive ways to improve. 2.       Make sure you listen :  Remember, getting feedback is about improving your performance, not turning it into a “you versus the

How To Lead Authentically In Today’s Workplace

Seven years ago, Bill George wrote True North , a favorite of mine. So, you can imagine how delighted I was to read George’s and Zach Clayton’s new book, True North, Emerging Leader Edition .  In this new book, the authors offer practical strategies and techniques to become an authentic leader and reveal how you can navigate your own path to success. The book is filled with dramatic stories of   how successful leaders overcame great challenges to build highly successful organizations.  These stories reflect more than 222 interviews with leaders–172 leaders interviewed for the original True North book, and more recently 55 interviews for the new book.  George and Clayton explain that their new book is a calling to emerging leaders of the next generations—Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z—to step up and lead authentically by discovering your True North.  And, what exactly is True North? “Your True North is the moral compass that guides your actions, derived from your most deeply he

Good Sample Business Principles

I really like these 10 guiding business principles that San Antonio, TX headquartered insurance company  USAA  lives by: Exceed customer expectations Live the Golden Rule (treat others with courtesy and respect) Be a leader Participate and contribute Pursue excellence Work as a team Share knowledge Keep it simple (make it easy for customers to do business with us and for us to work together) Listen and communicate Have fun Too many companies don't make it simple for their customers to do business with them.  Is it easy for your customers to: Buy from you? Make returns? Get pricing and terms? Receive timely responses to their e-mails? Quickly get answers when phoning your company? You can find more examples of companies with impressive guiding principles in the book, 1001 Ways To Energize Employees .