Films, series, and documentaries offer an exciting perspective on what is going on in business and which leaders, including their leadership style, are successful or failing. In addition to being exciting, these films are also very instructive for the novice but also for the more experienced manager. Gaining insight into both positive and negative role models helps enormously in leadership development. Role models of leaders who are good at dealing with power, solving problems, daring to make choices, standing for who they are, are courageous, and receptive to criticism and counterplay, are inspiring.

Blindness, decay, and pitfalls

But leaders can also learn a lot from negative role models. When once-successful leaders fail, identical patterns can often be recognized. The blindness to one’s own shortcomings increases, one begins to believe more and more in his or her own myth, and one alienates from one’s immediate environment and becomes addicted to the influential position one holds.

Shadow side is grateful

It seems like a universal script that makes you as a leader fall under the spell and slowly but surely pulled into the shadow of power. This shadow side is a rewarding theme in films and series. It helps you as a leader to become aware of common pitfalls at different levels of leadership. For example, how can you arm yourself against the ‘Emperor-without-clothes-ailment’ when people put you on a pedestal? In this ailment, especially the ‘followers’ play an important role in sticking to the myth of the perfect leader.

Here are six films with their leadership lessons:

#1. Kumaré

The fascinating documentary Kumaré about a fake guru shows how someone develops the status of a guru in a short time, but does not become addicted to the adoration and ultimately receives many positive but also pronounced negative reactions to the final revelation of his true identity. Some followers could not cope with this disappointment and even turned away from him. And how do you ensure that you stay afloat in the face of small temptations, which slowly but surely degenerate into big missteps? How do you stay away from the infamous ‘sea slope’ where you slip away from your moral values at a rapid pace?

#2. The exposure of the real estate fraud

Take the time to watch the miniseries ‘The unmasking of real estate fraud’ or go to the play ‘The Seducers’ and ask yourself if you had succumbed to the pressure of the Real Estate Cascades. Do you want to know how to deal with stubborn resistance to change?

#3. Moneyball

Watch the movie ‘Moneyball’ in which a manager encounters a lot of resistance when introducing a new purchasing policy and is than outright sabotaged, but ultimately manages to turn that around positively by continuing to believe in himself and persevere.


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#4. Stormers

As a manager, do you have to deal with difficult group processes in which insecurity and low openness play a role? Then watch the documentary ‘Hemelbestormers’ together with your team about a climbing expedition, in which the expedition leader and the mountaineers have different expectations of each other and speak to each other poorly. Then talk to each other about what you recognize and what you don’t and then start the discussion with each other. Do you want to know which universal phases a team goes through and how a team has to learn to deal with adversity but also as clashing egos and rivalry?

#5. The History of the Eagles

Show the documentary ‘The History of the Eagles’ and see what phase your team is in and what awaits you.

#6. Whiplash

Do you want to develop young talent but not chase them over the cliff? Then watch the film about a talented young drummer in Whiplash who is pushed to the limit by his mentor and ask yourself what the benefits but also the dangers are of such a coaching style.