Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The Big Lie

The Big Short is a brilliant film that manages to convey the immoral madness of the financial system in a funky, funny and almost poetic way. Of course, many people in the UK still believe the recession that began in 2007/08 was the fault of the government in power. This film will show you otherwise. And what makes the film so clever is that even though you will probably still not get what CDOs and CDSs are, you will know what they meant.

But because the narrative is so compelling, because it's true (the scene with the realtors in Florida stands out for me), some of the acting could be overlooked. But don't... there are some extraordinary performances in this film. Go. See. Now.

Tempting though it is to write about leadership integrity and morality after watching this movie, I will instead write about gambling and leadership instead. (The film, indeed the whole financial system, is really just about gambling, I would contend.)

Do good leaders gamble? Of course they do: leadership is all about balancing risks, investments and pay-offs. It is all about judging just how far a course of action can be pushed to achieve the desired for result. But it is not random chance, of course. Famously, Gary Player said “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” Leadership is not about rolling a dice. But it is sometimes about gambling with an opportunity.

Do you feel lucky...? 


This is Blog 144 in my 2014/15/16 series of blogs about leadership ideas to be found in the movies of our time. You can read here as why I began doing this (with an update at the end of 2014 and 2015). Please subscribe to this blog if you want to read more. Thanks. Click the label 'film' to see all the others.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jon

    Thanks for pointing me to this. I haven't seen the film yet but its sounds like a good yarn that epitomizes the worst of casino banking - and I'm the guy who gambled a whole $10 in Vegas - and lost!

    But, as an ex-military man, I am interested in your thoughts on leadership and I agree with your view that it is sometimes about 'gambling with an opportunity' or perhaps being willing to take a calculated risk. In my experience, military leaders rarely have all the facts and information that they would really like to have before deciding a course of action - but they also very often do not have the luxury of being able to prevaricate or postpone a decision - when lives are at stake - in marked contrast with many of those in public office who build entire careers out of prevarication and delay!

    I can't be precise about this but, from what I've seen, good leaders can typically make good decisions with only 65%-85% of all the information that they would really like to have. If they are lucky, they can do it with less and - of course - they can still make bad decisions even if they have all the information! But on balance, and in other words - 'Who Dares, Wins' a lot of the time!

    Regards and keep on blogging!
    Steve C