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12 Classic Movies with a Message for Your Business, slide 11

Jason Knott, CE pro editor-in-chief
Twelve O’Clock High

“This is a must-watch movie any business owner and his or her management staff. The film, based during World War II, is an expose on how to be a good manager (and how to avoid being a poor one). The film opens with the aftermath of a bombing squadron in total disarray. The leader of the squadron is an example of a terrible manager. He makes excuses for his men and he consistently does not delegate to the men, but instead decides to ‘do it myself.’

“On the flip side is the general. He is the perfect manager who is able to put every detail into context of the broader goals of the war. Indeed, in one scene leading up to a particular battle he describes how if the bombers don’t hit the targets, then the battle will be lost, the entire Western Front campaign will be in jeopardy, and ‘Hell, we might lose the entire war.’

“Lastly, there is Gregory Peck, who is promoted to be the new commander of the squadron. The movie grapples with how he transforms from ‘being one of the guys’ to being the leader. There is one thematic scene where Peck rides up in a Jeep sitting in the passenger seat with the driver. He asks the driver by his first name to pull over for a moment. Peck gets out of the Jeep and smokes a cigarette, then returns to the vehicle but this time sits in the back seat and address the driver as ‘corporal.’ At that moment he has transformed into a manager.”

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12 Classic Movies with a Message for Your Business