In 2013, I Want You to Learn from the Movies

Business owners and leaders are busy people. Many of them say they do not have time to read books or articles, attend workshops or watch webinars.

My hope for 2013 is that individuals in leadership roles will take the time to combine the pleasure of watching a movie with the need to continue to learn.

Here are my top five recommendations for movies to watch about leadership and business in 2013.

“12 o’ Clock High” is the most comprehensive leadership movie I’ve seen. Based on the writings of Lt. Col. Beirne Lay, Jr, of the 97th Bombardment Group, General Frank Savage takes over a failing bomber wing with the goal of turning it around. Morale bounces from low to high and back again, depending on the target, length of the flight and the amount of fighter support provided. In the end, Savage makes the mistake of becoming too close to the men he leads, cracking under the strain.

“Memphis Belle” is a follow-up to “12 o’ Clock High.” The movie follows airmen as they prepare to fly on their 25th and final assignment before rotating home to the United States. The crew faces many life and death decisions; several scenes of leadership conflict take place in the cockpit between pilot and co-pilot.

“13 Days” is the story behind the decision-making within the highest levels of the Kennedy administration during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. Serious arguments take place as to how best remove nuclear warheads placed in Cuba targeted at the United States. Reading the history behind how WWI started, Kennedy understood event and misunderstandings could quickly spiral out of control, ultimately leading to an exchange of nuclear missiles between the US and USSR.

“Moneyball” has been criticized as not telling a truthful story about the success of the 2002 Oakland A’s baseball team. I like the movie regardless because it is based on approaching a highly competitive environment (Major League Baseball) with a fresh strategy to talent acquisition and utilization on the field.

I still remember where and when the first time I saw “Patton.” Academy Award winner George C. Scott played the dominating, entertaining, moody and action oriented American general in the European theatre of combat in WWII. He was highly competitive, well-read and held a high opinion of his men.

Here are the rest of my choices; all are worth watching:

When it comes to believing in a mission statement, nothing comes close to “Jerry Maguire.”

Denzel Washington in “Remember the Titans” teaches us all something about coming together in a common cause of winning in sport and in life.

Meryl Streep plays a smart, tough, almost ruthless leader of a magazine in “The Devils Wears Prada”, setting a high bar for young college graduate Anne Hathaway.

In “Master and Commander” Russell Crowe plays the captain of a British warship, using various leadership tools to keep his crew focused and officers on his side, all the while working every possible angle to achieve his mission of capturing or sinking an elusive and powerful French frigate.

Three movies speak to never quitting. The first is “Rudy;” the second is “The Pursuit of Happyness;” and the third is “Apollo 13.”

Two movies address changing people’ “Invictus” and “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” Both films speak to setting audacious goals, overcoming opposition and mobilizing people.

My final recommendation, “Heartbreak Ridge” tells the story of a leader at the end of his career. Clint Eastwood fights the inevitable, his commander and his history of leaving a trail of destruction in his personal relationships.

Enjoy the movies! I wish you a successful and prosperous New Year!