Archive for March 16th, 2009

Want To See REAL Leadership? Rent Some Gregory Peck Movies!

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Most of what I know today about Leadership, I learned from Gregory Peck – at the movies.

He was not just a Leading Man, he was a Leader. Time and again in his films, he put a human face on The Person In Charge in a way that business schools can’t even hope to match.

His Horatio Hornblower was modest about his own abilities, knew the names of every subordinate, and was as quick to offer praise as he was skeptical about the value of punishment.

He could also teach by showing us what not to do. In “Twelve O’Clock High,” he was too hands on, becoming so personally involved in the lives of his men that sending them out on dangerous missions ultimately cost him both his command and his sanity.

But it was in “The Guns Of Navarone” that he summed up the essence of what it means to be a leader. At a point in that movie where absolutely everything has gone wrong, he says:

“If you think I enjoy this – any of it – you’re out of your mind. (But) someone’s got to take the responsibility if the job’s going to get done. Do you think that’s easy?”

Every self-employed person I know can identify with those words, as can PTA presidents, committee chairs, and mid-level managers the world over.

Of course, those particular lines were written by Carl Foreman (based on Alistair MacLean’s novel.) So you could make the case that Peck was just reciting words. But he was ever so much more than a mere parrot. He was a leader off-screen as well (prominent California Democrats even asked him to run for Governor – against Ronald Reagan), which is no doubt why he conveyed so many facets of Leadership – both good and bad – so convincingly.

And today, as 24/7 TV News gives us perhaps too close a look at what passes for leadership from the local to the national level, you’d better believe that if I see anybody who seems cut from the Peck mold, they’ll have my vote – forever!