Feel like you might be ready to lead? Maybe you’re thinking about starting an MBA but need some inspiration before you make your move? Look no further than your screen. Yep, as usual, pop culture is here to save the day.
These fearless film and television characters are guaranteed to inspire your inner leadership skills whether you’re planning on managing a team, dreaming of being your own boss or you’re simply looking for a competitive edge in your career.
With her scathing commentary and unbelievably high expectations, Miranda Priestly, editor-in-chief of Runway magazine, might be one of the silver screen’s most feared (and revered) bosses.
Made famous in the 2006 movie, The Devil Wears Prada, the publishing magnate (reportedly based on real-life magazine editor Anna Wintour) might have been scary but she still managed to get a few things right. In between forcing her employees to forgo their friendships, relationships and personal commitments outside of work (that’s bad), Miranda taught her employees how to anticipate the needs of the magazine and company (that’s good).
While it’s crazy to expect anyone to read their boss’s minds, there’s something very useful about having the skills to anticipate what someone else needs in order to do their job and work collaboratively to achieve better outcomes.
“It’s Kurns, you idiot!” OK, no, it is Mr. Burns and yes, he’s a horrible tyrant who blocked out the sun, ran Bart over with his car, fired Homer more times than we can remember and had a proclivity for bribing city officials BUT… in being so evil and greedy, he’s also taught us a number of valuable lessons about how not to be a boss.
Monty Burns 101: Don’t silo yourself off from your business or employees. By actually involving yourself in your workplace and not just leaving the heavy lifting to someone else, this provides you with the opportunity to connect to staff and create an inclusive and supportive culture.
Just because you’re a leader doesn’t mean you’re above checking in with your team, hearing their suggestions and collaborating to create a better working environment. Poor leaders don’t truly realise (or care about) the consequences of their actions and the negative impact this has on others. Don’t do what Monty Burns does…
In the 2009 hit, The Proposal, Margaret Tate (played by the one and only Sandra Bullock) blackmails her assistant, Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) into agreeing to marry her in order to avoid being deported back to Canada.
While there’s no need to glorify that little moment, there are plenty of other instants throughout the film that make Margaret an amazing boss. The most important being that she truly loves her job. She isn’t there for the wrong reasons or to simply get ahead in her career – she’s there because she has a true passion for the work.
Being committed to your role and having a true love for what you do instantly makes you a better leader because you want what’s best for the company and you’re willing to work hard alongside your team to achieve positive outcomes.
OK so here’s another big takeaway from the ‘how-not-to’ manage handbook. You probably remember Michael from The Office. You know, he’s the awkward boss who kind of has everyone’s best interests at heart but always seems to mess things up no matter what he does. His attempts at making everyone like him may seem harmless, but his managerial experience at Dunder Mifflin is a fantastic reminder that not everyone is born to lead.
To ensure you’re ready to take that position and lead a company or team of people, you need all the attributes Michael doesn’t have. Tact, trustworthiness, focus, and the ability to read people and situations. Basically — try not to be a narcissist, don’t take credit for other people’s work, and don’t make a point of criticising people. It doesn’t help anyone and to make matters worse, it makes you look bad too.
As the head of the writing team for 30 Rock’s fictional variety show, The Girlie Show (or TGS with Tracy Jordan) Lemon is easily one of television’s best bosses even though she never gets credit for it.
Not only does she have to manage a number of large personalities in the ‘talent’ portion of her show, she also manages a group of quirky and neurotic writers who are all dealing with their own personal foibles. Basically, Lemon’s the gal who keeps the whole machine running and it’s up to her to be able to problem solve on a whim, delegate appropriately, and pander to the multiple egos she is forced to deal with on an hourly basis.
All in all, she’s got a lot of balls in the air, but she juggles them pretty well. Lemon might not know how to take care of herself, but like all good managers she can be trusted. She also understands that her actions affect the team’s motivation, so she adapts her approach to each individual to get the best out of them. No one-size-fits-all approach here.
Dr Perry Cox
He might have been the perennial grump on Scrubs but there’s no denying Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley) was also a great leader.
Why? Because he cared. Not about his staff’s feelings or their insignificant daily dramas, but about teaching them to be the best doctors they can be, so they could those who need their help most. His team trusted him and therefore worked harder and better as a result. He didn’t earn this trust by being their best friend, he earned it by being the ultimate example of what a good doctor (and person) can achieve if they work hard at something.
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