Leadership Movies & Books

Remember theTitans and Invictus:Two great leadershipmovies

This blog discusses two great movies: Remember the Titans and Invictus. These movies offer us great opportunities to think about leadership, integrity, overcoming adversity, change management, merging cultures, teamwork, and taking the high road. I am just going to share a few question for you to think about after enjoying the films.

Remember the Titans (2000, with Denzel Washington): Story about a black football coach, chosen over a white coach, to lead a newly integrated high school football team. Issues: taking charge; dealing with a clash of cultures; dealing with interpersonal conflict; turning a bunch of hostiles into a cohesive and winning team.

How does he bring the team together? How does he treat the coach he displaces? How does he deal with the political stuff—university administrators, the community, his enemies? What works best; what doesn’t work as well; and how would you do it differently? Any leadership techniques from this movie you find interesting or inspiring?

You can also look at the coach who was displaced: what does he do best and worst as a leader? What are his shining moments throughout the movie?

In addition to thinking about how the two coaches handle the politics, and how they brings the team together, you can also think about how they coach the team—improve team performance. Are there any coaching techniques you like, and is there anything you would do differently? Business people cannot be coached the exact same way as high school students.



Invictus (2009, with Morgan Freeman): Great compliment to Remember the Titans, in terms of leadership lessons, although the topic here is a world-historical political event. This movie introduces important questions about leadership, taking the high road, merging cultures, and building bridges across boundaries, i.e., bridging values and interests.


Look for all the places Mandela acts with utmost integrity and takes the high road: what does he get out of that tactic, and what would probably have happened in each case if he had taken the low road, i.e., if he had given in to the very human impulse to take revenge? How does this apply to business?


What tactics does Mandela use to bring the country together, to bring his security team together, and to bring his office together, e.g., to retain the employees left over from the previous administration, especially on his first day in office?


And finally, how does Mandela try to motivate the captain of the rugby team (played by Matt Damon), and support the team more generally? Try to list all of the direct and indirect methods, and think about how they apply to leading organization, i.e., motivating and supporting leaders and teams within your sphere of influence.

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