The Top 20 Leadership Movies Of The Last 20 Years

July 4th is the biggest box office weekend of the year for the movie industry.  Therefore, for fun I am providing my list of the Top 20 Leadership Movies from the last 20 years.  The following was the criteria for selection:

  1. Servant Leadership
  2. Self Leadership
  3. Family Leadership
  4. Character
  5. Teamwork
  6. Passion
  7. Skill and Creativity
  8. Empowering Others
  9. Overcoming Obstacles
  10. Accomplishment

Feel free to disagree and provide your own list. Let’s get started:

  1. Passion Of The Christ – Mel Gibson’s legendary film captures the greatest example of sacrifical love in human history.  Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends…and everyone else as well.
  2. Forrest Gump – The hardest person to lead is yourself.  Gump’s positive outlook, practical insights, making the most of every situation, and unconditional love for others are great examples of self leadership.
  3. Fireproof – No movie captures the struggles of being a husband better than this independent film.
  4. Apollo 13 – The best film I have ever seen that demonstrates vision, sacrifice, commitment, talent, problem-solving, creativity, and passion in a team environment. 
  5. Saving Private Ryan – The greatest opening scene in movie history shows us what courageous leadership is.
  6. Braveheart – William Wallace never compromised his values or his freedom.  “Every man dies.  Not every man truly lives.”
  7. Gladiator – Maximus reminds us that focused, passioned leadership centered on a single mission cannot be stopped.
  8. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – “Greed is good.”  Unfortunately, greed and sustainable leadership cannot occupy the same space.
  9. Boyz n the Hood – Everyone time I watch this film, I cannot get away from Laurence Fishburne’s character Furious Styles.  The positive force and strength of his parenting in horrible circumstances challenges all of us as fathers.  I have no idea how you would parent in South Central L.A..
  10. Remember The Titans – Whether the divide between people is racial, gender, age, geographic, or spiritual, great leaders can bridge any gap and connect people.
  11. Secretariat – The story of Penny Chenery is the best example of empowered female leadership in the last 20 years.
  12. The Blind Side – Speaking of empowered women, Sandra Bullock’s Oscar-winning portrayal of Leigh Anne Touhy inspired a nation.
  13. Father of the Bride – One of my favorite movies.  What makes this movie so funny is that everything Steve Martin goes through, every father can relate to.
  14. Coach Carter – Coach Ken Carter reminds us that a person’s performance is directly tied to another’s belief in them.
  15. The Social Network – The story of the rise of Facebook provides for us a glimpse into the brilliant mind and potentially destructive personality of the most creative and talented NextGen business leader ever.
  16. Family Man – An absolutely delightful film.  Nicholas Cage transitions from a self-serving, greedy, over-indulgent businessman into someone who finds self-fulfillment in leading his family.
  17. A Few Good Men – We can handle the truth!  We want Nathan Jessup on that wall!  We need him on that wall!  Deep down in places we don’t talk about at parties, leaders understand the difference between activity and accomplishment.  Nathan Jessup gets things done.
  18. The Fugitive – Samuel Gerard, played by Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones, is the consummate alpha male leader.
  19. Talladega Nights: The Legend Of Ricky Bobby – Absolutely the worst, and funniest, examples of being a bad father that I’ve ever seen.
  20. Rocky Balboa – The most underrated movie of the last decade is a wonderful case study of experienced leadership and the continued call on your life.
  21. *Bonus* Soul Surfer – No one overcame more than Amanda Hamilton who lost an arm in a shark attack.  “I could never have embraced this many people with two arms.”  Unbelievable!

That’s my list. Let the debate begin.

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.

3 Responses to “The Top 20 Leadership Movies Of The Last 20 Years”

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post. My wife and I are huge movie fans. We enjoy all types of movies especially ones with a great message or leadership principle. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Some of these are truly excellent. Some are pure trash. Perhaps you’re just wanting to be provocative! But really Brian…Ricky Bobby? One of the most filthy movies I ever walked out of.

    • Mike,

      Thanks for the comments. Remember, the list is not there for artistic value. It is there to serve as films you can extract leadership principles from

      Ricky Bobby demonstrates absolutely the worst parental leadership I’ve seen. Therefore, it makes my list.

      I’m glad you felt the freedom to comment and disagree.


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