Image of Charles Good on Lessons from Hollywood

Do you ever wonder what leadership qualities make a great leader? What sets apart those who ascend the corporate ladder and allow others to follow suit confidently? Have you ever asked yourself if there were lessons to be learned from influential Hollywood films that could help you become a better leader in the workplace? Institute for Management Studies thought-leader Bob Bies recently explored leadership lessons from Hollywood movies and provided practical tips for leaders. Here are some of the movies he analyzed:


A gripping and inspiring film based on the true story of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission to the moon. This mission encountered a critical technical failure that posed a grave threat to the lives of the courageous astronauts on board. Despite the overwhelming odds, the crew, led by the heroic Jim Lovell, fought against all odds to safely return home. Several leadership lessons can be drawn from the movie.

  • Problem-Solving and Adaptability: One of the key leadership lessons from the movie is the importance of problem-solving and adaptability in the face of unexpected challenges. When the mission encounters a life-threatening crisis, the leaders at NASA, including Flight Director Gene Kranz, have to adapt and develop innovative solutions to bring the astronauts safely back to Earth.
  • Never Giving Up: “Failure is not an option” became a famous motto associated with the Apollo 13 mission. Leaders should inspire their teams to persevere in adversity and never give up on their goals, even when the odds seem insurmountable.


A sports movie based on the true story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, coached by Herb Brooks, who went on to achieve a historic victory over the heavily favored Soviet team. The movie offers several valuable leadership lessons.

  • Team Building: Brooks had to bring together a group of college players from different backgrounds and turn them into a cohesive unit. Building a strong team involves fostering trust, camaraderie, and a shared sense of purpose. Leaders should invest in team building to maximize performance.
  • Trusting the Process: Leaders should emphasize the importance of trusting the process and sticking to the plan, especially when facing tough challenges. Success may not come immediately, but persistence and belief in the process can lead to breakthroughs.


A biographical drama film that tells the story of Ray Kroc, the man behind the rapid expansion of McDonald’s, the world-famous fast-food chain. The movie offers several critical insights for leaders:

  • Vision and Persistence: Ray Kroc had a vision for McDonald’s as a global fast-food empire, and he pursued it relentlessly. Leaders should have a clear and compelling vision for their organizations and remain persistent in pursuing their goals, even in the face of obstacles.
  • Adaptability and Innovation: Kroc recognized the need to adapt and innovate in the fast-food industry. Leaders should be open to change, innovative, and ready to adjust their strategies to meet evolving market demands.


Many essential leadership lessons from Hollywood movies have been highlighted in this article. From the strong determination of Jim Lovell in Apollo 13 to the tenacity of Herb Brooks in Miracle and the dedication of Ray Kroc in The Founder, these iconic characters demonstrate the practical qualities needed to lead a team through tough times. Now it’s time for us to use that same insight professionally. Every leader is tested at some point in their career, and if we take these lessons to heart before they arise, you’ll be a step ahead of those who don’t.

For more leadership lessons from Hollywood tips and techniques, listen to my interview with Dr. Robert Bies, ‘Leadership Lessons from Hollywood.’ You may also want to read one of my previous articles on leadership, ‘What Makes Exceptional Leaders Stand Out.’


Charles Good is the president of The Institute for Management Studies, which provides transformational learning experiences that drive behavioral change and develop exceptional leaders. Charles is an innovative and resourceful leader who specializes in bringing people together to develop creative organizational and talent strategies that enable business results. His areas of expertise include assessing organizational skill gaps and leading the design, creation and delivery of high impact, innovative learning solutions that achieve business goals.

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