*Updated November 2016* With this weekend’s release of Hacksaw Ridge, I am providing my list of the Top 20 Leadership Movies from the last 20 years. The following was the criteria for selection:
- Servant Leadership
- Self Leadership
- Family Leadership
- Skill and Creativity
- Empowering Others
- Overcoming Obstacles
Ironically, 15 of the 20 films involve real-life individuals. Feel free to disagree and provide your own list. Let’s get started:
- Passion Of The Christ – Mel Gibson’s legendary film captures the greatest example of sacrifical love in human history. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends…and everyone else as well.
- Son Of God – Produced and directed by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, this classic hit the big screen 10 years after Passion Of The Christ. Let’s hope it is not another 10 years before Jesus hits the big screen again. The life of Jesus is the greatest love story ever told.
- Hacksaw Ridge – Directed by Mel Gibson, this is the true story of Private Desmond Doss, an Army medic in WWII. Doss, played by Andrew Garfield, was responsible for saving the lives of 75 soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa despite not carrying a rifle into battle. While staying true to his religious belief of saving human life, Doss faced extreme pressure from his fellow soldiers but later earned their respect as well as a Medal of Honor.
- We Were Soldiers – Directed by Randall Wallace, Mel Gibson plays Lt. Col. Hal Moore. The first boots on the ground. The last one to leave.
- Lincoln – Steven Spielberg’s epic recount of our country’s greatest president and his efforts to pass the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery.
- Unbroken – The incredible true story of Louis Zamperini reminds us about the incredible power of resiliency and perseverance. If you do not feel you can survive whatever you are facing, watch this movie.
- Forrest Gump – The hardest person to lead is yourself. Gump’s positive outlook, practical insights, making the most of every situation, and unconditional love for others are great examples of self leadership.
- Fireproof – No movie captures the struggles of being a husband better than this independent film.
- Apollo 13 – The best film I have ever seen that demonstrates vision, sacrifice, commitment, talent, problem-solving, creativity, and passion in a team environment.
- Saving Private Ryan – The greatest opening scene in movie history shows us what courageous leadership is.
- Braveheart – William Wallace never compromised his values or his freedom. “Every man dies. Not every man truly lives.”
- Gladiator – Maximus reminds us that focused, passioned leadership centered on a single mission cannot be stopped.
- Captain Phillips – The 3rd film starring Tom Hanks, this movie is full of leadership principles including preparation, execution, and the importance of carrying out well-conceived plans under pressure.
- Sully – The 4th film starring Tom Hanks, no movie on this list better shows you how to lead during times of crisis.
- Captain America: Civil War – From a real life captain to a fictitious one. What I loved about this movie is the importance loyalty has in leadership. This is largely a movie about Steve Rogers’s loyalty to childhood friend Bucky Barnes. Loyalty does not make you a leader but disloyalty disqualifies you from being one.
- Lone Survivor – Each time I watch a movie based upon our the heroism of our American troops, those who protect the freedoms we so often take for granted, I am deeply humbled and thankful. The level of skill, commitment, preparation, courage and bravery of these men and women is indescribable and deserves the highest respect.
- Remember The Titans – Whether the divide between people is racial, gender, age, geographic, or spiritual, great leaders can bridge any gap and connect people.
- Moneyball – Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Oakland A’s innovative general manager Billy Beane gives all leaders a picture of what is necessary to navigate change.
- The Social Network – The story of the rise of Facebook provides for us a glimpse into the brilliant mind and potentially destructive personality of the most creative and talented NextGen business leader ever.
- Creed – Sylvester Stallone’s portrayal of the aging Rocky Balboa is Oscar worthy. In terms of how to practice self-leadership during times of crisis and pass on a legacy to the next generation, this underrated film is must-see!
That’s my list. Let the debate begin.
For movie reviews from a leadership perspective, click these posts:
- 20 Leadership Quotes from Gordon Gekko and Wall Street
- 16 Leadership Principles and Quotes From Secretariat
- 10 Leadership Quotes And Principles From Soul Surfer
- 32 Leadership Quotes And Lessons From Creed
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