Leadership Movies & Books

Gandhi & Patton:Two great leadersin action

Gandhi & Patton

Two great leaders in action

 Gandhi and Patton. Two great leaders in two compelling movies. You couldn’t imagine two people with more different personality styles and roles—one soft spoken and the other brash; one a political leader committed to non-violence and the other a great military leader. There is a lot to learn from each leader individually, and also from comparing and contrasting the two leaders.


Gandhi (1982, with Ben Kingsley): A powerful movie about one of the most important, influential, and innovative political figures the world has ever seen. Lots of great questions to ask here: What made Gandhi such a powerful leader? What are his best personality traits, skills, and virtues? What were his shining moments as a leader (at least in the movie)? In what important ways was his non-violent approach not passive or pacifism but rather active and assertive? What was so brilliant and powerful about his non-violent approach, and how does that strategy or approach apply to the contemporary work world? Would Gandhi have been as successful if he had tried to fight the British with violence, and what can we learn from that regarding (i) leveraging our strengths and (ii) organizational strategy?


Patton (1970, F.F. Coppola): Traditional command and control style leader (completely different leadership style than Gandhi) and yet very effective for Patton. When you look closely, however, you will see that despite the huge apparent difference in style, Patton and Gandhi share many personal qualities. Try this little exercise: how many significant similarities and differences can you spot between Patton and Gandhi—in terms of their best qualities and strengths as leaders? What do you admire most and least about Patton—what would you do differently as a leader? What can you learn from Gandhi and Patton for today’s work-world?


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