Sunday, 26 January 2014

Ethical pizza delivery

I saw Delivery Man last week, possibly against the recommendations of several friends who are not wild about a) Vince Vaughn's acting b) schmultz c) remakes of already good films in a foreign language. I know a number of people who are very principled in their movie going habits. But now, especially with my unlimited cineworld card, I get to see whatever takes my fancy: even the films looked down on by some people.

And it was really good. OK. I am an old romantic and this film does deliver schmultz by the van load. But that is not the only reason. You cannot compare the acting in this to 12 Years a Slave, naturally. But the acting is authentic and believable. The characters mostly work (although I am not sure how a radical vegan ends up working in a butchers quite so quickly...) and the story is contrived but is an engaging thought experiment. How would a man react to being told he had over 500+ offspring? Of course there are many unanswered questions and consequences not explored but you know what... it doesn't matter. I just enjoyed the film because it has a huge heart. And it is about family bonds.

Go see it!

And what does this film have to say about leadership? For me one of the main messages of the film is taking responsibility. Vince Vauhgn's character David, is all about someone who does not take responsibility. The film is about his 'journey' (you know what I mean...) to stepping up and doing so.

Leadership though, is about knowing the difference between accountability and responsibility. People are routinely held accountable for that which they are not responsible: short sighted leaders conflate the two. If someone's performance (for which they are accountable) begins to slip, poor leaders lurch into holding them responsible without investigating just what is causing the reduced performance. It may well be due to several other factors outside the responsibility of the accountable person. In such an instance, punishing that member of staff for that which he/she is not responsible is at best pointless and at worst cruel and ineffective bullying.

In the film, David is confronted by his accountability and finds a way to be responsible for what he can be responsible for. A good leader who wants to improve performance finds the ways to help their staff recognise their accountability and take responsibility for that which they can. Good leaders help people narrow the gap between the two.

What are you accountable for... and what are your responsible for?

This is the ninth of my new series of blogs about leadership ideas to be found in the movies of our time. You can read here as why I am doing this. Please subscribe to this blog if you want to read more. Thanks. Click the label 'film' to see all the others.

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