Corporate Eye

Watch Movies, Learn Leadership

The leadership development industry is estimated by some to be as large as $15 billion (USD). There are many University courses, seminars, books and articles, all trying to convey leadership principles, and many fail. A reason is that leadership is best learned by experiencing it and the many leadership teaching products and services are lacking here.

The primary source of learning to lead, to the extent that leadership can be learned, is experience. Leadership development through experience.
Morgan W. McCall, Jr.

Unless you are on the fast track at your organization you don’t get the opportunity to be mentored by senior managers who will mentor and guide you.

There is an alternative learning method that some enlightened professors are using and that you can use yourself — Business Cases using movies. Movies are stories and stories can be a surrogate for experience.

a knowledge-sharing story offers a surrogate experience. When one reads a novel, one often feels as if one is living the experience described in the novel. So too when a story is recounted, the narrative form offers the listener an opportunity to experience in a surrogate fashion the situation that was experienced by the storyteller.
Storytelling in Organizations: The power and traps of using stories to share knowledge in organizations
Deborah Sole, LILA Harvard University
Daniel Gray Wilson, LILA Harvard University

OK, got the logic? Leadership is best learned by experience, stories can be an alternative for experience and movies are stories.

One of the best sites that offers movie leadership case studies is the Hartwick Institute. You can purchase the case study and teaching notes at reasonable prices.

This site has a scholarly approach and describes how to use the selected movies to teach and learn leadership skills.

Another, less scholarly but still worthy of a visit, is MoviesForBusiness.

The concept is the same but it takes a more entertaining approach. There is a free lesson based on the Wizard of Oz and you can even get an MBA (Master of Bijou Advice), obviously not accredited.

Here are some additional resources —

Now you have another reason to go to the movies.

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Ed Konczal has an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business (with distinction). He has spent the last 10 years as an executive consultant focusing on human resources, leadership, market research, and business planning. Ed has over 10 years of top-level experience from AT&T in the areas of new ventures and business planning. He is co-author of the book "Simple Stories for Leadership Insight," published by University Press of America.