5 Best Leadership Lessons The Movie Invictus Teaches Us

The spectacular, Oscar-nominated 2009 movie ‘Invictus’ portrays the extraordinary come-from-nowhere victory of the South African Springboks on the World Cup of rugby 1995. A true story, what makes the movie all the more fascinating is the light that it sheds on leadership.

As always, the Springboks of 1995 were just a mediocre team. The only reason why South Africa was competing in the World Cup was that it was hosting the tournament—the host team always gets a free pass. For this reason, everyone expected the Springboks to bow out early.

The millions of recently liberated black South Africans didn’t care about the tournament’s outcome as the team represented the country’s white minority. Nevertheless, there was one person who thought otherwise—the South African President Nelson Mandela. To him, the Springboks were a potential tool for culturally reunifying the country.

If you haven’t seen Invictus, pick a night, stay at home, and stream it. The movie is equally moving and inspiring. Even if you have already seen it and like the movie because you are a rugby fan, some sportsbooks have the latest picks and predictions for upcoming games. You can also watch it again for the powerful message it offers on leadership.

The 5 Leadership Lessons Invictus Teaches Us

Invictus tells us the South African rugby team’s quest for the World Cup and the vision for a culturally unified country as seen by Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) and Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), who as the president and the rugby-team captain worked together for the team and ultimately for the nation.

Bringing a vision to fruition is not for the faint of heart. Mandela tells Pienaar during their first meeting, “A leader’s job is to make the followers believe that they are capable of doing more than they think possible”.

Inspiring people to believe in themselves so that the organization can achieve a noble quest requires a leader who sees beyond the horizon and makes what’s over the horizon achievable. Experts term this ‘transformational leadership’.

Having followers tap into a transformative process is challenging, and getting people to believe in themselves and the organization forms the heart of this process. In order to drive this change, every leader needs to do five things, as listed below.

#1 Make The Change Real

Organizations can only thrive on vision statements. Often many have these printed on posters and wallet cards as a reminder of what they are working towards. Nevertheless, the real challenge lies in providing an insight into this vision.

Give people a taste of what the future has in store for them by communicating to their individual ambitions. Get them excited about the possibilities and opportunities, and finally make it real through vivid images that conjure up a better tomorrow.

#2 Look At Behaviors

Organizations never change, but people do. Hence, if you want your organization to thrive and always be the best in class, or a top-notch employer of choice, you should think about the behaviors necessary to achieve that aim. Figure out the right behaviors and hold people accountable through performance measuring. You can even access compensations to see if the change is real.

#3 Always Do The Unexpected

Often disagreements happen in an organization. When people disagree, patiently listen to them. Sidelining them without listening to their ideas and concerns will play into their resistance. Always try to find opportunities for rapprochement—look for ways to reach across the divide and find common ground. Nonetheless, eventually, don’t let people who say ‘no’ hold your whole organization from progressing.

#4 Hold Fast To The Vision

Only a handful of organizations willingly embrace change—most often, they have to be pushed, nudged, and pampered. You will be able to drive change if you understand that some people take longer to get on board. Not losing your patience with people not yet on board will ultimately become a virtue, but never an excuse for not sticking to the initiative. After all, it takes a tough leader to stay on the mission for change in the face of resistance.

#5 Live Your Values

All talk and no action doesn’t make visions become real. Hard work and motivation is what you require to turn your visions into reality. Your visions will only come to pass if the people you have assigned do what is asked of them. However, if you, the leader, expect people to follow, you must be the first to act. The leader must be seen doing what the organization needs doing, including behaving as he/she asks others to behave.Not everyone has what it takes to be a transformational leader, which is definitely not a bad thing. In fact, too much transformation than what is required can be chaotic too. As a leader, your ultimate job is to do what the organization needs you to do.  Most often, this means keeping the organization productive, and people engage. These are monumental challenges in themselves.