When I’m on long flights overseas, I end up watching at least one movie. Most recently on my trip to Korea I watched the movie King Arthur. I’m familiar with the storyline and I was curious how this adaptation would be different.
In this version, the power craved uncle (played by Jude Law) thinks that fear provides the ultimate power to a leader. He called it intoxicating. As expected, he rules the kingdom by striking fear into the hearts of subjects. “Obey me, or else!” As with all good action movies, ultimately King Arthur regains his throne by winning an unlikely battle through a the help of his small group of committed followers and of course, his magic sword, Excalibur.
Fear can get things done for awhile, but it won’t last. Everyone wants a strong leader who’s also willing to show humility and willing to serve. Leaders with compassion generate the most dedicated followers. That kingdom will last… at least until the next power-craved leader rises up using fear and consequences to achieve movement from the followers.
There’s Something Wild in Each of Us
This is how animals lead. In a wolf pack there is an Alpha. The Alpha is the strongest of the pack and wins the position to lead by physically challenging the current Alpha leader. The rest of the pack follows the new Alpha because they can’t defeat the Alpha or they’re too afraid to try.
Sounds like a great Disney movie, doesn’t it? At the beginning of the movie our good leader either dies or is overthrown by a power-starved, jealous, strong leader who uses fear to take and hold on to power. The rest of the movie follows the struggle of our hero, the caring challenger, seeking the strength and courage to finally make things right and overthrow the evil regime.
Why are These Movies so Successful?
Because deep down we all know that leading others with the power of fear is wrong. As we watch the movie we can’t wait for that final battle scene when our champion makes everything right again. We want to see the winning battle where the new compassionate Alpha is blessed with supreme strength and courage to set the world right again.
We want the happy ending for our tribe. Does this sound familiar? Tarzan, Lion King, Jungle Book, Black Panther, Gladiator, Lord of the Rings… King Arthur.
What Can We Do?
When humans lead like animals, using fear, it can work for awhile. But the followers are always looking for their next champion. They’re not following because they want to, they’re following because (for now) they have to follow.
We crave a leader who cares about us. We want strength and compassion from our leader. Power through intimidation will create animosity and an eventual rebellion.
How will you choose to lead with both strength and compassion?
For some reason I’m craving movie popcorn…