Since the beginning of time, leadership has been a hallowed assignment in the family setting and social spaces, such as political offices and corporate organizations. Leaders play a crucial role in our world. They help set a direction for others, motivate their people towards goals, and sometimes, maintain the balance that our world needs.
But sometimes, leaders themselves need a healthy dose of motivation to keep them up and going. While there are plenty of resources like books, conferences, seminars, TED talks, and podcasts to boost their motivation, stories are also great ways to achieve the same thing.
As history would have it, there are many examples of great leaders and leadership spread across time and different walks of life. A lot of these have been captured on screen as movies and documentaries. Several of them are pure fiction that draws inspiration from true-life stories.
If you are a leader, there is a more relaxing way to gather strength and draw motivation when you need it the most. Yes, even with popcorn in your hand while you’re reclined on your sofa.
So, here are 9 great movies about leadership that every leader should see:
#1. The Social Network
The movie was directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin. It starred Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, and Justin Timberlake, and was released in 2010.
The movie was a character study of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. The Social Network highlights the journey and satisfaction of starting your own business from scratch and building it all the way to the top.
While at it, we saw several insightful takeaways portrayed by each character. We saw how businesses fail due to the lack of essential business traits needed to drive and sustain growth.
#2. The Pursuit of Happyness
The 2006 award-winning movie stars Will Smith, his son Jaden Smith, and Thandie Newton. It was written by Steve Conrad and directed by Gabriele Muccino. Chris Gardner (Will Smith) was caught in a difficult situation after losing his life earnings selling a product he believed in and invested in. With no place to stay, his wife left him, also leaving their son behind for him to take care of. Chris’ (Will Smith) world came crumbling down.
But as we saw, Chris was able to muster strength and courage to persevere through the mountain of odds that stood in his way to finally clinch success. Part of his way of coping was to take up an unpaid internship role in a brokerage firm. Throughout his journey from grass to grace, we are exposed to lots of valuable insights.
This 1970s American war movie was written by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North and directed by Franklin Schaffner. It stars George Scott as Patton and Karl Malden as General Omar Bradley.
The movie, an epic biography, is a study of leadership as it is a biography of the eponymous US Army General, George S. Patton. Aside from the presentation of the highly-motivational speeches and quotes of the man at the beginning of the movie, we also saw how strict discipline drives Patton’s decisions and lifestyle.
#4. 127 Hours
The 2010 movie is an adaptation of the true-life story of Aron Ralston (played by James Franco). A boulder had fallen and trapped Aron when he went on a hiking adventure. The movie portrays the inspirational decision that Aron had to make to free him from under the boulder after struggling for 127 hours. Today, Aron is a motivational speaker, teaching people how to free themselves when trapped by the boulders of life. He draws inspiration from his experience of trying to survive the ordeal.
Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufort wrote the movie’s screenplay, which was also directed by Danny Boyle, starring James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, and Kate Mara.
#5. Inside Out
Inside Out was written and directed by Pete Docter but co-written by Ronnie del Carmen. It was released in 2015.
When 11-year-old Riley moved from Minnesota to San Francisco, the movie depicts how most of us react to change. Change is a factor we all face in life — and how we react to it determines the direction our lives take.
This is an animated movie, but it’s interesting to see the emotions that play out in our lives, and how they guide us to say and do things.
#6. Steve Jobs
The movie is an account of the real-life story of Apple founder Steve Jobs. Great leadership is obviously dependent on tenacity and dogged resolve to push beyond barriers. This is what we see in this movie as it focuses on the travails, failings, and successes of Steve Jobs from how he started and grew what will become one of the most valuable companies of the 21st century.
The movie, which was released in late 2015, was written by Aaron Sorkin, directed by Danny Boyle, and stars Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, and Seth Rogen.
#7. Apollo 13
This is a 1995 movie that portrays how a leadership crisis can affect an organization’s overall role. While holding viewers glued to the breathtaking account of the aborted real-life NASA mission, it also illustrates how leaders can amicably agree to resolve a conflict by working together.
It was written by William Broyles Jr. and Al Reinert, directed by Ron Howard and stars Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Ed Harris, and Gary Sinise. The story is centered on how NASA struggled to bring back Astronauts Lovell, Haise, and Swigert of the Apollo 13 moon mission after they found themselves stranded in space due to their damaged spacecraft.
Gladiator is an epic rendition of how the Roman Empire conquered nations near and far while riding upon its military strength and brutal force. The movie was released in 2000 and was a Hollywood blockbuster, but it highlighted several valuable lessons to be learned from the trappings of leadership. It starred Russel Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix. It was written by David Franzoni, and directed by Ridley Scott.
When the emperor’s young son murdered his father and took the throne by force, we saw how he utterly failed in creating the alliances and structure that would have helped his throne and bettered Rome. Instead, he spent more time hunting down and suppressing suspected foes, including Maximus, his father’s most trusted general-turned-slave.
#9. Ai Weiwei
This is a 2012 recount of the works and travails of the famous Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. The documentary was produced by Alison Klayman, a journalist who lived in China for four years. Ai Weiwei was brutally attacked about how he used his art to portray society’s ills and speak out in favor of ideas he believes his society should uphold.