• Nehan Sarfaraz

Must See Films to Learn more about Leadership

Updated: May 5

As an organization, Cinemagic has and always supports the global community of film-makers. People have been globally started using films even in classrooms for educational purposes. This expands the field of the film industry itself pushing it further from just a source of entertainment to becoming a source of education. And we're not talking about documentary films. Robert Gottlieb says, 'Remember: TV is a format, film is a format and books are a format'. As the world dives deeper into the digital era, films are becoming easier to access in comparison to books. It's safe to say that commercial films have also become a great source of education/inspiration. For example, I had a very vague idea of the incidents and occurrences of World War II. I've been able to learn and know more about the incidents that took place with the help of movies. While watching different movies can expand our knowledge about different cultures, situations, and eras, there are also several films out there (real-life based and fictional, both) that are based on or have characters possessing great leadership qualities.

This blog post is a list of films that we recommend for those willing to watch great films about leadership or for those who are simply looking for inspirational characters to inspire themselves to be better leaders.


People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision - John Maxwell


Watching movies is a perfect way to relax, unwind, and have fun. Nevertheless, often films can give us learning opportunities, particularly in the area of leadership and management. Here are some of the films that I have seen over the years, and from which I have learned a lot of knowledge and learning.


The Revenant (2015)

In this film, there are lessons for leaders on endurance and the avoidance of adversity. "You will beat the 800-pound gorilla, no matter what people tell you – or your inner voice tells you. Or, grizzly bear, in this case," says Guy Kawasaki, author of 'The Art of the Start 2.0'. He says entrepreneurship is more like this film's gritty struggles than the fairy-tale of meeting co-founders and venture capitalists, getting financing, shipping product, raising revenue, and going public.


The Big Short (2010)

Some have praised this film, about the financial crisis of 2008, as the best film about the business world. It describes the financial world's nuances and terminology with such simplicity that everyone can comprehend and understand it. And as you're making sense of what's going on in the financial world your alarm bells will begin to sound off as you sit in wonder and frustration.


The Social Network (2010)

What fascinated me about this film was that if you can recognize a need that isn't being met, what you have on your hands is an opportunity. What steps you take next to growing this novel idea is your road to success or failure. In this case, it was a massive, self-believing achievement. This film captures the true challenges facing today's entrepreneurs. Up in the Air (2009) That film is probably one of the few movies out there that can really understand and appeal to HR professionals. It is not easy to let go of people and this is one of the reminders we get from the character of George Clooney. But more than that, both leaders are told that companies are not only about complicated and sophisticated processes and technologies – they are about people.

12 Angry Men (1957)

The courtroom drama may not provide you management lessons in a way you expect it to, however, there’s much to extract from it. Largely, the movie emphasizes on key characteristics that business leaders essentially must portray, such as persuasion, group decision making and consensus-building.

Other People's Money (1991) Corporate control is like a bull charging – you don't want to be caught dormant in its course. The film highlights the challenges faced when corporate giants overwhelm smaller companies, particularly in hostile takeovers.

127 Hours (2010)

The true story of Aron Ralston, an explorer who got trapped when a rock dropped on his arm and trapped him. The story reveals how he is making the decision to set himself free. Thrilling and inspiring. When we are weighed down — physically, emotionally, mentally — and how we take the next step to reevaluate and move forward, it could be any one of us.

Working Girl (1988) Integrity and sincerity can go a long way – and it can be the grace of salvation. And this is what this film so well portrays. No matter what role you play in your company (in this case it's about a secretary), from this movie we can all learn a lot about remaining true to ourselves.

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

The 2006 American biographical film directed by Gabriele Muccino about Salesman-turned-stockbroker Chris Gardner on and off-homeless. It is based on a real life story about how a man fought his way through problems with his family, his finances to the point of homelessness to set up a brokerage business eventually. Though Chris faced a lot of setbacks in the film, he never stopped trying. His determination eventually brought him popularity. Chris' lifetime thirst for success was intense and it led to his resilience. He had lost everything in his life and it was his desperation that took him to his ultimate success to break out of the rut.

Invictus (2008) There are few films that catch and shine with the essence of what inspiring leadership is all about, and what it can achieve. This one is the best example of bold, inspiring, and transformational leadership. Norma Rae (1979) The best thing about leadership is not just just that it comes from the person sitting on top. Norma Rae led campaigns at the garment factory where she worked to take the war to the top and improve working conditions. The true story portrays the struggle of a determined woman to maintain her domestic life while at the same time leading efforts to create an organized community. Moneyball (2011) What I love about this true story is how the character of Brad Pitt defies the rule and is only doing things his way. It was pure genius to create a baseball team through mathematical analysis and probability (thanks to the young economist he hires) and turn the downtrodden franchise into a winner! A prime example of why modern corporate practices should take the place of outdated procedures.


Inside Out (2015)

When Riley, 11, moves from Minnesota to her new San Francisco home her feelings are turned inside out. Change is never easy and in any new situation there are always competing feelings which make the old way look almost better. Look out for your own core childhood experiences when you think about how you tackle new circumstances today, both personally and professionally.


Wolf of Wall Street (2013) Possibly the quickest way to find yourself in trouble is to seek guidance from corrupt activities and leaders. Jordan Belfort's story however, is more than that. A dynamic leader can push mountains in every obstacle, and lead teams. We just need to be careful what leader we want to work with.


Each employee affects the course of an organization, but leadership has by far the largest and most visible influence on the community of the business, which revolves around employee morale, climate, atmosphere, and the performance of the company and its clients. And here, at Cinemagic, we stand strong for the values of our people to empower organizations globally to tell a better story. If you have a story that you want to tell, contact us at info@cinemagics.com to find our more about our Film Fund.


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