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Hunger Games, Spiderman and Brave — Leadership Lessons from the Movies

With summer in full swing it’s time for the annual summer blockbusters to start rolling out of Hollywood. Movies like the Avengers, Spiderman and the Hunger Games.

You might be thinking, ok those are great movies but what do they really have to do with the federal government?

More than you think.

Tom Fox is the Vice President for Leadership and Innovation at the Partnership for Public Service. Tom told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that you can really learn some valuable leadership lessons from your favorite movie hero.

Tom’s Leadership Takeaways from the Summer Blockbusters:

  • The Amazing Spiderman: tells the story of high-schooler Peter Parker who has evolving super powers and is exploring the truth behind the death of his parents. While as a federal leader you may not be scaling walls and slinging webs, the movie is a good reminder about the importance of unlocking your many talents and fulfilling your leadership potential.
  • The Avengers: the story of a super hero team featuring Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk and Thor that bands together to save the world from the brink of disaster. This movie is a clear illustration of how to bring the right team together to solve a problem. It is also chock-full of other leadership moments, from speaking truth to power to setting your ego aside for the benefit of the team to doing what’s right no matter how long the odds. Plus, in a way, each of the Avengers is a public servant — particularly Captain America.
  • Brave: is the animated story of Merida, a Scottish princess who is determined to make her own path in life. After taking my kids to see the movie, I was struck by its main leadership lesson — that to be a successful leader, often you need to avoid the trap of inertia and have the bravery to see and choose your own future (rather than assuming your career path is on a defined trajectory).
  • The Hunger Games: the science fiction film set in the future where the Capitol, the wealthy city in the nation of Panem, televises an annual event called the Hunger Games in which boys and girls are selected from a lottery to fight to the death in an arena until one victor remains. One pair of competitors, facing the most stressful of circumstances, learn the vital lessons of teamwork, ingenuity, inventiveness, overcoming adversity and playing to one’s strengths. There is also a lesson in never overlooking an opportunity to find a mentor.
  • Also don’t miss this book: Movies to Manage By: Lessons in Leadership from Great Films. Some of the top leadership movies that Clemens suggests are: “Citizen Kane,” “Crash,” “Gandhi,” “Glory,” “The Matrix,” and “Norma Rae.”

We want to know what you’ve learned about leadership from watching movies?

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Profile Photo A.L.Rodenberg

A missed leadership lesson from the Hunger Games is integrity. The heroine refused to accept the rules as written and redefined the game by living her values.

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