5 Must Watch Hollywood Movies for Every Project Manager

There is more to movies than just entertainment. They are a reflection of our society and there is so much we can learn from them. Especially, when it comes to lessons on management and leadership, there is a lot to take away.

It should not come as a surprise that all the leading B-schools and the most successful conglomerates in the world use cinema as a way to teach management lessons and theories. Movies are a powerful learning aid for understanding group dynamics and team-handling.

Below is a list of a few popular Hollywood movies that demonstrate ways to handle the most common management issues such as staff procurement, employee motivation, retaining good professionals, and increasing engagement in workplace.

The Social Network

Thanks to this movie, we now know how Mark Zuckerberg — the founder of Facebook, reached where he is today. It shows how Mark, using his skills, hacked into Harvard’s student database to get pictures for his website Facemesh (first version of Facebook) — and ultimately paved his way towards becoming one of the richest men on earth.

Key take away from the movie
The idea is simple — hiring people who have real skills, not just college degrees. All corporate giants like Apple and Microsoft are looking for professionals with real talent and practical knowledge.

The lessons that managers can take from this movie are that sometimes great professionals can come from the most unexpected and unlikely places. For example, in the movie Mark was initially perceived as nothing more than a hacker meddling with university’s data, until everyone realized his true potential. Managers should bring innovation in the process of hiring in order to be able to identify and hire the creme de le creme of all the applicants. Do not judge a candidate solely based on an impressive CV or interview. Conduct procedures where candidates can demonstrate their real abilities and knowledge. Try to look beyond the obvious while hiring.


Never underestimate the power of engagement when it comes to employee-retention. The moment we talk about engagement factor, Invictus is the movie that comes to mind. Based on the life of one of the most iconic personalities ever — Nelson Mandela, managers can learn the art of motivation and leadership from this movie.

Key take away from the movie

There is a lot to take away from Invictus, but what is really captivating about the movie is the way Mandela communicates with the people of South Africa. He uses Rugby — a sport to engage both blacks and whites who were feeling torn by racial discrimination. Mandela uses a sport to bridge the gap between blacks and whites. The same way managers can avoid disengagement by conducting simple yet interactive games and activities.

It is the responsibility of senior level authorities to make sure people don’t feel distant from the company and from each other. Movie hosting, parties, games, and conducting fun activities is an excellent way to bring people together in an office setting.

Outsourced and The internship

Both the movies share same ideologies and concepts. Talk about Equal Employment Opportunity and these two hollywood flicks are sure to be on top of the list. We can add one more to it — Schindler’s List. These movies capture cross-cultural amalgamation in workplace beautifully.

Key take away from the movie

Not just managers, but we all can learn how employees of different backgrounds, ethnicity, cultures, and skin colors have so much to teach each other. All three movies answer a lot of questions on cultural differences and the way people from various backgrounds interact in a group setting. When there is an element of cultural richness in workplace, everyone can learn a lot about team management and also get amazing cultural insights.

Up in the Air

Hiring people is very easy. It is when a company is faced with the difficult decision of downsizing, that problems begin. Firing employees always puts HR department and managers in an awkward position. This is exactly what is depicted in Up in the Air.

Key take away from the movie

Up in the Air, starring George Clooney, playing the part of a corporate downsizer, serves as a reminder to every organization that when it comes to firing people, it is not always the person being fired who is at loss. It is the organization also that loses something. Managers can learn how to value employees and understand their worth.

The lesson to learn from this movie is that, ‘people leave people, not organizations’. Although the primary agenda remains how to politely let employees go, but the undercurrent emphasizes on valuing good employees as well. That is exactly what managers can learn — the art of valuing those who truly deserve it.

The Wolf of Wall Street

The movie portrays Jordan Belfort and his real life story that made him one of the most influential stockbrokers of Wall Street. Beneath all the debauchery and decadence shown in the movie, there are so many key lessons that everyone including managers and employees can learn from Belfort’s success story.

Key take away from the movie
What was it that made Jordan Belfort and his partner Danny Porush such a great team? Well, it is the very fact that both of them were totally different. Let’s just say the two were poles apart! So, from this movie, managers can learn the art of diversifying competence of employees. For example, while Belfort couldn’t sleep, porush could sleep anywhere and everywhere irrespective of outer conditions. Belfort had strategic abilities while poush was brutal in enforcing rules.

Belfort always thought of long-term orientation while porush was short-sighted. They were so different in every aspect, but together they used their strengths and weaknesses for the best. The same way, managers should try to identify the best in employees and use it for the good of company as well as for their own growth.

These are the five movies I was able to think about off the top of my head. All of them are a must-watch for every manager and career-oriented professional. If you feel any other movie should have made the list, don’t forget to share it in the comments section.

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Originally published at blog.proofhub.com on October 21, 2015.