As I strolled through the office attired in my pink polo shirt one Thursday afternoon, I was greeted by the comment, “On Wednesdays we wear pink.” Caught off guard and stunned, I asked for clarification. Only then when I learned the context was from the 2004 hit movie Mean Girls did I understand the reference.
Later that evening when I retold the story to my college-age daughter and observed her “and you didn’t know the movie” rolling of the eyes reaction did I realize how much CEO-credibility I had lost with the team.To succeed as a baby-boomer leader in a millennial-generation workforce, one must understand servant leadership, build mentoring relationships and create communities of collaboration. I recognized that my quick and quirky Caddyshack, Animal House and Godfather references are as likely lost on a significant portion of the Andesa team as “that’s so fetch” was on me. In an attempt to better understand the team and regain some “CEO-cred,” I provided the group a challenge. Provide me a list of ten films to watch that would help me better understand the client services/operations team.
After watching some new films and re-watching some favorites, here’s what I learned:
Our team appreciates loyalty and values relationships: I was struck by the importance of friendship and loyalty expressed in the long-term relationships depicted in so many of the films. Forrest Gump epitomizes the ideal “loyal” friend. His relationships with Bubba, Lieutenant Dan & Jenny are what we hope for in a friend. Even Catch Me If You Can’s Frank Abagnale and Carl Hanratty enjoy a post-apprehension lifetime relationship based on mutual respect and trust, an interesting aftermath to an FBI criminal thriller.
Our team values honesty and transparency: When Jules and Vincent enter the apartment to retrieve a briefcase in Pulp Fiction, it’s because trust is broken. When Andy Dufresne calls the Warden “obtuse” in The Shawshank Redemption, it’s due to his failure to act with integrity upon learning the truth of Andy’s innocence. The calling out of “Plastics” and the peeling away of clique-ism in Mean Girls, Clueless and The Breakfast Club are prime examples of transparency ruling the day.
Our team appreciates collaboration and teamwork: In Office Space, Peter, Samir and Michael Bolton collaborate to retaliate against Initech for firing them. Seth, Evan and Fogell exemplify the concept of Superbad when they scheme to score booze (underage) to impress the ladies. Cady, Janis and Damian’s system to undermine the Plastics almost backfires, transforming sweet Cady into a “Mean Girl” herself. While the goals may not have been honorable, the importance of teamwork and collaboration cannot be underscored.
Our team understands the world is imperfect, but good wins: So many film protagonists overcame bad situations (a boring and unfair office environment; wrongful imprisonment; Saturday detention; terrorists in a high rise; high school cliques) to reach a level of success and contentment. Our team roots for the underdog and seeks to have positivity overcome bad people and circumstances. The individuals on the team are willing to persevere for a noble purpose.
Our team balances a sense of hard work with a great sense of humor: This group gets that while work is important and meaningful, there is more to life than just work. Family, friendships, and camaraderie are part of the team environment. Films such as Clueless, Mean Girls, Superbad and Office Space can teach about friendship and loyalty, but they also can be cynical and hilarious at times. In other words, sometimes we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously and just enjoy the laughter.
A key challenge among leaders is to build a culture based on trust and mutual respect.
Knowing your team member’s personalities, quirks, needs, styles–in addition to their talents and skills–shows a real appreciation and builds that sense of community.
I learned a great deal about the individuals who work hard and are always quick with a smile, joke or helping hand. I would recommend the 10-Films Challenge to any leader who desires to learn more about a group
Without repeating any films, I share ten movies for the team to better understand Ron. Another challenge would be if the client services team collaborated to write a guest blog to explain what they learned about me. Be on the lookout for a future blog installment.
Read more of Ron’s blog’s here.