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Movie leadership quotes

Five Movie Scenes with Surprising Lessons on Leadership

Almost everyone has a favorite movie. There’s something about a fantastic storyline, unforgettable acting, and strong writing that makes a film memorable. But occasionally, we’ll come across a film that offers inspiration in the most unconventional way. Regardless if the movie is terrible, sometimes there’s a moment that gives you the ingredient you need to motivate yourself or your team. Here’s a look a five surprising movie scenes that can change your association’s outlook on leadership.


1. “Attitude Reflects Leadership”

Remember The Titans—an early 2000s classic that catapulted the stardom of actors such as Ryan Gosling and Donald Faison. The film tells the story of integrating the 1971 T. C. Williams High School football team.

The whole movie was inspiring; however, there was a moment between Julius (Wood Campbell) and Gary (Ryan Hurst) that was raw and gut-wrenching. In the scene, Julius and Gary confront one another after weeks of tension both on and off the field. When Gary points out that Julius has a poor attitude, Julius replies, “Attitude reflects leadership, Captain.”

When you think about Julius’ response, he has a valid point. Whether you’re overseeing a team of project managers, hosting an event, or leading an entire football team to victory, your attitude is transparent and contagious. Poor attitudes lead to poor leadership.

You’ve worked hard and had to execute many plays to make your association a success. And I understand the daily grind can make you have moments of sheer frustration. However, it is imperative to remember that your attitude determines your altitude. Instead, take your lemons, make chocolate milk and let everyone else figure out how you did it.


2. “You Gotta Dream, You Gotta Protect It”

Will Smith’s depiction of entrepreneur Chris Gardner and his struggle with homelessness in The Pursuit of Happyness is enough to inspire anyone. However, there’s a moment between Chris and his son that is powerful. While looking over the city skyline, Chris turns to his son and shares a valuable lesson, “You gotta dream, you gotta protect it.”

Defining your dream and executing your plan led you to manage a successful association. You let nothing get in the way and you gave it all you had. Offering your team perspective on how you got started (and why) will give them a deeper understanding of why sticking to your association’s core values is essential.

And let’s face it, sometimes you need a reminder too. Think about the time you took to build your brand and the bumps in the road that tried to flatten your tires. Think about the struggles, the successes and why you do what you do. It’s one of the greatest tools you have to inspire you to keep going.


3. “I Love to Laugh”

Mary Poppins is a cult classic that infuses music and imagery to teach children and adults about that family is important. One of the best scenes is when Bert (Dick Van Dyke) and Uncle Albert (Ed Wynn) sing about the power of laughter, leading to a tea party on Uncle Albert’s ceiling.

The scene is compelling because of the song, I Love to Laugh, and the message it conveys to the audience. Think about the hook for a moment — “The more I laugh, the more I fill with glee. And the more the glee, the more I’m a merrier me…

Laughter is dynamic and contagious. It boosts morale, invites positivity and solidifies to your team, your members and yourself that happiness matters. Encourage laughter each day. Tell an appropriate joke or share a funny story about your journey at your association. Remember a time in your life that brings a smile to your face.

Although it may be difficult to be happy about everything all the time, cheerfulness never gets old.


4. “It’s About How Hard You Can Get Hit and Keep Moving Forward”

In 2006, Sylvester Stallone returned to the big screen reprising his role as Rocky Balboa in a film bearing the same name. Rocky shares with a solid piece of advice with a son, Robert (Milo Ventimiglia) who is upset with his father “… it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

Keep moving forward—something that your mentors reminded you to tell yourself when you began your association. Share that same sentiment with your team and your clients. Whether you’re planning an event or rebranding your business, remind the people you come in contact with that no matter the adversity they may face, keep going.

Show them they can take the hits, get up and keep moving forward. Not only will you inspire them, but, you’ll also find inspiration within yourself.


5. “No One Ever Asked Me”

The late Jerry Lewis knew captured his audience with his crazy antics and brilliant comedic structure. His classic film, The Bellboy, tells the story of a young bellboy at Miami’s Fontainebleau Hotel named Stanley.

The schtick in the movie was that Stanley never talked. By the end of the film, Stanley’s boss is yelling at him, assuming Stanley was organizing a strike with his co-workers. When his boss asked him if he even talks, Stanley (Jerry Lewis) answered “Certainly I can talk, I suspect I can talk as well as any other man, Mr. Novak.” Stunned, Mr. Novak, Stanley’s supervisor asked, “How is it that we’ve never heard you talk before?” Stanley’s answer was simple, “Because no one ever asked me.”

John Hume once said “The art of communication is the language of leadership.” As hilarious as this scene was between Stanley and Mr. Novak, it proves to be a valuable lesson. Communication is the one thing that can either advance or sabotage your association’s goals.

Whether you’re listening to the grievances of your client or having a critical conversation with your team, how you communicate reflects your effectiveness as a leader. It’s easy for all of us to have a Mr. Novak moment. However, I find that clear, concise communication skills—both listening and speaking—prevents those Mr. Novak moments.

Create Your Own Memorable Moment

One thing that these films have in common is their ability to inspire in the most unconventional ways. Each movie offers a moment that stick with you for a long time. You don’t have to be an award-winning actor and read from a script to be inspiring, write your own script.

Developing core values for your association meant that you tapped into your own self-awareness to create something great. It doesn’t mean you have to stop creating those memorable moments. It means that you can and are the type of leader you’ve always admired.