The fun list blog 12most.com posted an interesting list in October — 12 Most Animated Leadership Lessons from Dreamworks Movies. It’s a fun read, going from common sense to visionary to silly and inspiring.
Some of them are classic leadership rhetoric. How to Train Your Dragon: “the threat may be the opportunity.” Over the Hedge: “your people are ends, not means.”
Others have the visionary ring of impossible goals — idealized superhero leader territory, in the realm of Gandhi and Jesus. The Prince of Egypt: “justice cannot be ignored.” Spirit: “the tamed spirit is the unfree spirit.”
I still love this about children’s stories. The very ideals we yearn for as adults, even after we realize how much it costs to achieve them, are embedded in our consciousness. When we are willing and able to believe, anything is possible! And in these wonderful, creative movies, it is.
Of course, the hard truth is, if we’re willing and able to make deep sacrifices, anything is possible in the adult world as well. I think that’s one of the functions of idealistic leadership development programs and theories. They remind us of the power of our human potential, motivate us to stretch beyond our comfort zones.
Sometimes, belief is all you need to get out there and follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous advice, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Take my favorite lesson on the list, Kung-Fu Panda’s “there is no secret ingredient.” In that wacky, slapstick animated movie, the fat, clumsy panda learns his father’s magic soup is special because he believes it is — and so he takes the leap to believe in himself and become the Dragon Warrior.
As blog author Doug Rice says so well, “Leaders don’t need super powers or special abilities to make a difference. They only need the belief and conviction that they can. Leaders don’t need a secret ingredient; leaders are the secret ingredient.”
I love that — leaders are the secret ingredient. I’d add this: leaders with good stories to fuel them are the secret ingredient for true transformational leadership! We can’t stretch if we haven’t exercised our imaginations, our creativity and our idealism. Like children, adults need great stories to give us the push to grow, to wonder, to “be the change we want to see in the world.”
Maybe those movies, with all their fart jokes and goofy sidekicks, are really meant as much for grown-ups as children.