Every senior manager has a leadership fantasy but they’re to embarrassed to tell you. They do however give clues.
Maybe they secretly see themselves as Dirty Harry shooting first and asking questions later or Tony Soprano commanding absolute loyalty. More likely they imagine being the commander in NASA’s mission control centre from the film Apollo13.
I worked in a large organisation where the head of corporate IT was a guy by the name of John Houston. If a senior manager was experiencing a difficulty with the IT system they would ring up and say “ Houston we have a problem”. Not only did they think this was funny they thought it original. This is not the only time I have heard a senior manager quote from a well known film. I worked for a chief executive whose idea of industrial relations was to joke with HR to, “ make them an offer they can’t refuse”.
Senior managers are no different to the rest of us in being influenced by popular films or t.v. programs it’s just they have the power to indulge their fantasies. I am not suggesting they actually threaten to shoot some one in Senior Management Team meeting or even think the words ”Go ahead punk make my day ” but the crisis planning meetings in response to the coronavirus pandemic did present the opportunity to role play mission control at NASA’s command centre. How many chief executives weren’t able to resist concluding the meeting with ,” failure is not an option” the other famous line from the film Apollo 13?
In hindsight I may have been guilty of indulging my cinematic influences. On taking up a new post as deputy director I did a series of road shows to staff explaining how we were going to get out of special measures. I started the presentation with the theme music from Mission Impossible and then went on to explain the mission, pointing out that as in the films we were going to accept the mission and prove it was possible. It was intended as an attention grabbing light hearted intro but it occurs to me now that to my captive audience it might not have seemed as cleaver or funny as I thought. Mind you it was probably better understood that my take on the “ Full Monty”. The much talked about launch of the directorates communication strategy.
Perhaps it’s no bad thing that senior managers are so busy they have little time for going to the cinema or watching t.v. But it would probably be quite revealing to know your chief executives favourite film.
Blair McPherson former Director, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk