My wife and I saw two movies while traveling back on an overseas trip, The Great Debaters and P.S. I Love You. Both of these movies had age old wisdom in them. As we watched the movies, I observed people on the plane laughing and crying in different parts of the movies. I wondered what would happen when everyone got off the plane. Would they say they enjoyed the flight because of the movies and identify the experience as entertainment or would they clarify what they learned from the movies and make changes in their life? Would they become less judgmental and more loving? Would they endeavor to spend better time with their family and less time being angry and difficult? Would they risk trying an unlikely but exciting deep felt goal to see what they could accomplish?
Leadership is influencing followers towards a common goal. Getting to a common goal requires obtaining high quality results. To get high levels of results, leaders and followers need to be emotionally engaged. An important part of leadership is creating emotional engagement with the followers. Many times, the people whom we are leading intellectually understand what they need to accomplish, but they are not emotionally committed. It is in their head, but not in their hearts. How do we get it into their hearts?
One of our clients is building a $1 billion dollar business. As part of the endeavor, they are building an academy to teach their system to employees. It is based on five primary pillars (Philosophy, People, Processes, Products and Promotion) with over 100 secondary pillars. This conclusion came as a result of realizing that the thinking and logic of the business was easy. Well, maybe not easy, but relatively easy compared to the emotional engagement needed to take a business from ground zero to $1 billion. The academy teaches the philosophy, the way, the values, and the method that has made this company already successful and what is giving it such strong legs to get to the $1 billion by 2017.
As part of this endeavor, some movies I believe should be used to teach: The World’s Fastest Indian (persistence, accomplishing the impossible, big dreams on a shoestring budget, it doesn’t have to look pretty to work), Akeelah and the Bee (winning for yourself, integrity, compassion), We Are Marshall (one person makes a difference, it takes a team, values do matter), P.S. I Love You (being mad wastes a lot time, not searching for things but being in the moment, barriers to relationships may not really be there), The Great Debaters (leadership is knowing when to let go, experience and perseverance will beat bad odds), Lawrence of Arabia, etc. etc.
Is a list of movies an appropriate tool as resources for employees to learn from in the same way that a business keeps a list of books as resources used to teach, learn and remember? Will it emotionally engage them on a stronger, more effective and longer term basis? Will what is needed get into the heart and unleash the full strength into a business? Next time you watch a movie, are you going to look at it as entertainment, or use it as a tool to become better for you and your team?
Ultimately, great leadership emotionally engages followers to become better internally as well as to take better actions to reach common goals. Movies are one of the mechanisms to more effectively emotionally engage followers in your vision. Along with a list of books that you have for your leaders to read and learn from, make a list of movies that you can watch together and learn from as well.
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