Temperatures are rising and people across North America are rushing for a respite from the scorching summer heat. And one of our favorite pastimes during the warmest time of the year is escaping the heat by immersing ourselves in the cold environment and exciting entertainment of the local movie theater. And while many may be just embracing escapism, going to the movies can actually be a great opportunity to take in some solid insights on being a leader. So, let’s take a look at some leadership lessons from this summer’s biggest movies on the silver screen!
**Possible spoilers ahead**
Top Gun: Maverick
After releasing in 1986, Top Gun inspired a generation to look to the skies and imagine being in a cockpit with the theme song Danger Zone playing in the background. After nearly 40 years, movie lovers finally got what they wanted: a sequel. In Top Gun: Maverick, viewers get a little insight into what Pete “Maverick” Mitchell has been up to the past few decades, and moreover, how much fuel he has left in the tank. After disobeying an Admiral’s orders by flying, and crashing, a hypersonic plane at Mach 10.3, Maverick is sent back to Top Gun fighter pilot school to help train the best aviators the Navy has to successfully complete a seemingly impossible mission. During the three-week training, Tom Cruise’s character is tasked to not only create a team, but to understand their limits and help his pilots push past them.
One nugget of advice Maverick gives Rooster, the son of his late wingman Goose, is to “not think, just do. If you think up there, you’re dead.” For most of the movie, Rooster seems to be holding back, while overthinking each move. However, once he finally lets go and relies on his instincts, he becomes the pilot Maverick knew he could be: heroic, brave, and fast. Leaders are tasked to help their teams push past their limits and extract hidden qualities from their employees. Encouraging employees to overcome the habit of overthinking and rely on instinct and experience will galvanize your team to be the best they can be.
In this biopic, writer/director Baz Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge!, Romeo + Juliet) takes viewers on a journey through not only the trajectory of the King of Rock’s life, but also tells the tale through the eyes of Elvis Presley’s infamous and controversial long-time manager Colonel Parker. After emerging as the quintessential singer in the 1950s, Parker encouraged Elvis to go to Hollywood and spend the first eight years of the 1960s making B-movies, all but sidelining his music career in exchange for movie soundtracks. And while Elvis experienced success, he slowly moved away from what truly made him happy: singing and performing songs he believed in. These long-lingering thoughts came to culmination when Elvis decided to turn a Singer sewing machine sponsored Christmas special into one of the most important television events in music history. Known as the ’68 Comeback Special, Elvis got back to his roots, reestablishing himself as the most popular live performer throughout the rest of his career.
When great leaders get away from their strengths, purpose, and vision, their team members are the ones who suffer the most. To ensure a high performing, creative, and engaged staff, it’s important to get back to your roots. Focus on the values and culture of the organization and encourage leadership and employees to do what they do best: be themselves.
Thor: Love and Thunder
The third installment of the Thor saga is the first time we see the god of thunder since his role in the epic Marvel film End Game. In Thor: Love and Thunder, the superhero is in search for identity and purpose. After spending thousands of years fighting on behalf of Asgard and helping save the universe from nefarious foes, Thor still doesn’t fully understand who he is. And while his friends encourage him to find himself, in the end it’s a surprise visit from Jane Foster as Mighty Thor (readaptation of Marvel Comics’ Lady Thor) who helps Thor remember that it is better to feel bad about a loss than to have never tried and feel empty.
Many leaders are on the sidelines not shooting for the stars for fear of failure. But trying and failing is often an important stop on the road to success. In leadership, if you don’t open yourself up for good as well as bad possibilities, you will lead in the “gray,” neither positive nor negative. However, to motivate a team and overcome potential obstacles, leaders must face failure and push through it. It is better to shoot and miss than to forever wonder what if.
What are your favorite leadership lessons from movies? What other lessons have you learned from the silver screen? Let us know in the comments section below!