Friday, 21 March 2014

Leadership as poetry

I saw The Book Thief the other day. And whilst the acting (especially by the younger members of the cast) was superb and the story gently and enchantingly told, I left this movie feeling that the book must be much better. My hunch is that the book contains far more detail & description than a film could possibly show. And the narration by Death probably worked in the book but felt clunky in the film.

But go see it, if only for the costumes and sets which skillfully give an evocative impression of Germany during the war. I was struck at one point by a scene of a German soldier doing something caring (I won't say what exactly) since that is an image we very rarely see. This is a good movie but not a great movie. I think, but I don't know how, it could have said more.

This is a film about words and the great importance of words in helping us to understand, appreciate, and grapple with the world around us. Sometimes words come out right, sometimes they come out wrong. Good leaders are always very careful about the words they say or write. It is probably harder being spontaneous if you are leader. Perhaps.

As I have said before on this blog, one of the most important things that leaders do is make new futures real and desirable. Words are critically important here. Being able to evoke an image in the minds of people is a hugely valuable skill for any leader. At one point in the film, Liesel is challenged to do this... and does it well.

So in my view, leaders should be poets: able to use words to describe that which cannot be seen... yet.

How are your poetry skills? 

UPDATE: Richard Crompton tweeted me of the piece he put (The Policeman and the Poet) on my collection of stories about inspirational leadership. Indeed I was thinking of him as I wrote this blog. Have a browse, it is a thought provoking piece.


This is the nineteenth 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.

1 comment:

  1. 'We campaign in poetry but we govern in prose' as a well known American politician once said and I can't help but feel that statement has a large element of truth. Part of the problem with current modes of governing is that the meaning of many words has been emptied of real content and what we are left with are husks often filled with cant and as likely to elicit derision rather than to make people see castles in the air.