20 Best Leadership Movies; Break Out the Popcorn

20 Best Leadership Movies; Break Out the Popcorn

Movies are a great way to learn about leadership.Here’s CCL’s Clemson Turregano, who has facilitated “leadership at the movies” sessions for years:“I started using movies when I was teaching at West Point and then at the Naval War College,” he notes. “Movies, like a case study, offer real-life portrayals of examples of leadership in crisis. Viewers can use these portrayals to discuss the behaviors they would like to emulate or avoid during similar circumstances.” 

Movie watching is also a great way to model complex ideas for people who are more visual in their learning preference. For instance, Turregano has used the 1957 drama 12 Angry Men to illustrate Jim Collins’ ideas in the best-selling book Good to Great, and the classic It’s a Wonderful Life to model Robert Greenleaf’s ideas of servant leadership.
The key that turns entertainment into a foundation for dialogue and learning, according to Turregano, is purposeful viewing — watching the film with a goal in mind. Give the viewers an assignment to find examples, themes or behaviors that translate to the topic being studied.
“Using purposeful viewing, participants can key into leadership behaviors that are both positive and negative,” says Turregano. “They can reflect on their own reactions to those behaviors and whether the behaviors are conducive to good leadership.”

During a recent workshop, for example, Turregano featured the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance, the 2000 film about a golfer and his mystical caddy, Bagger Vance, played by Will Smith. “I asked one group in the audience to look at the relationship and how Bagger developed and built on it. Another group was asked to view how Bagger assessed the golfer’s ability, while a third group was asked to comment on the golfer’s challenges and how Bagger supported him through these challenges. This provided excellent commentary for discussion around themes of coaching and developing others.”

I’ve had teams watch full movies as an evening activity at an off-site, and have used short clips during training sessions or team development workshops. The introduction of YouTube now provides us with a searchable library of leadership content on any topic.

Here’s a list of my 20 favorite leadership movies:
1. Braveheart
2. Office Space (funny examples of what not to do; can also use scenes from “The Office” television series)
3. Dead Poet’s Society
4. Apollo Thirteen
5. The Great Escape
6. Miracle
7. Twelve O’Clock High
8. Remember the Titans
9. Mr. Holland’s Opus
10. The Lion King
11. The Firm
12. In Good Company
13. Hoosiers
14. Glengarry Glen Ross
15. The Bridge on the River Kwai
16. Wall Street
17. It’s a Wonderful Life
18. We Were Soldiers
19. Lord of the Rings
20. The Thing
…and The Prisoner
see more here

Patrick McGoohan-Number 6

Patrick McGoohan

The Prisoner



Portmeirion village near Porthmadog, North Wales


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