Corporate lessons from the world of cinema


A few well-known movies viewed from a corporate lens to bring forth what they have in offer for the HR enthusiasts.

Movies of all genres have one thing in common — they carry a reflection of either the past or present human lives or are a perception of the future.

Having said that, there are of course movies that hold hidden lessons for businesses too.

That is why, many business institutes and even corporate trainers are now using clips and anecdotes from popular cinema as a tool to instil learning about management theories, team management, leadership, work group dynamics and more.

In addition, the movies, both Hollywood and our very own Bollywood, have some secret lessons for HR leaders too.

Here are some well-known movies viewed from a corporate lens to bring forth what they have to offer to the HR enthusiasts.

The Avengers: A highly acclaimed and appreciated flick amongst the superhero movies, this one clicks the HR instinct right from the start. Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., an international peace-keeping agency, is pressed to form a high-performing team in the face of an inevitable challenge that threatens global security. Fury brings together a group of his best talent to save the world from disaster. However, it takes some effort to make the team work together in harmony to reach the common goal.

The coming together of the avengers teaches HR that when great talent has to be unified, the biggest hindrance in their performance as a team could be their own egos, as each one brings a different expertise of extreme importance to the mission. In such a case, personality clashes and negative competition can compromise the mission. If such a team is to accomplish a common goal, HR must find ways to ensure that the individuals learn to leverage each other’s strengths and work as a single effective unit. One may be awesome at what one does, but when a larger challenge strikes only an efficient team can tackle it well and not one expert alone.

The movie also shows that culture fit is extremely crucial during hiring. This is because individual values and skills must align with the mission and vision of the organisation for the workforce to be able to strive towards it in a unified manner.

Taare Zameen Par: This amazing Indian movie explores a completely new subject as the protagonist who is an eight-year-old boy is thought to be lazy and a trouble-maker, until the new art teacher has the patience and compassion to discover the real cause of his struggles in school. The boy isn’t just lazy but lacks the ability to comprehend things the way his classmates or kids his age do, because he is later found to be dyslexic. The art teacher, who discovers this and the fact that the child is good at art and imagination, makes great efforts to help him overcome the disability through the medium of art and slowly sees a transformation in his overall performance.

The lesson for organisations, especially HR, is that despite all the assessments during recruitment and job-mapping, HR leaders and effective line-managers need to have a close eye on the needs and interests of an employee. One may appear to be a non-performer at times, but good leaders can always tell what special abilities or hidden potential each of their team members has.

The movie also shows how a leader should be able to take a stand for something that’s significant yet not known to all and needs to be brought to the top management’s attention so that the talent can be retained and optimally utilised.

Black Swan: This highly acclaimed 2010 American psychological thriller, tells the story of a committed dancer, who wins the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake only to find herself struggling to maintain her sanity. This movie is a classic example of pressing expectations on the overambitious super-performers and why organisations need to, at times, slow down a bit.

The protagonist, Nina, who is a ballerina, has nothing other than ballet in her life. Even her room is designed to match her interest in ballet and the only discussions she has with her mother after work are also about ballet. Her extreme passion for perfection turns into an obsession, and eventually makes her hallucinate, leading her to pay the price with her own life to achieve perfection.

Even in the corporate world, where each one is struggling to be the best, work-life balance is almost negligible, so to say. In times when work-stress is taking a toll on a lot of people’s health, organisations need to consciously make efforts to help people relax a bit and engage in activities beyond work. Although a lot of organisations have already implemented innovative wellness initiatives and frequently conduct off-sites, it is still up to the line managers and leaders to ensure that people are not over-worked beyond a limit.

Chak de! India:

This movie is about a disgraced hockey player, who coaches the women’s national team to win back his honour and dignity. The film helps explore and understand team dynamics and how efficient leadership and strong mentorship can bring together a great winning team.

The coach holds together a team of 16 young women hailing from different regions, only to realise later that despite their great talent, they are all divided by their regional conflicts, mutual jealousies and competitiveness. Even at the workplace, in addition to the cultural and regional differences people bring to work, at times overambitious people try to pull down others in a bid to move up the ladder faster. A good leader sees such situations as a challenge that needs a disciplined and empathetic approach. Only then can people from different backgrounds be brought together to work as a winning team. A good leader helps people believe in each other’s capabilities and lets them see the power in unity.

(There are many more movies out there that have hidden messages in store. If there is one that you can relate to, do share your views with us and other readers in our comment section below.)


  1. We can look at regional movies as well here. Classic example is Anbe Sivam by Kamal Hassan & Madhavan in lead roles. It was a critically acclaimed movie unfortunately did not do well at the box office. Reason was it was high on intellectual quotient but lacked the masala elements. Also it had theme around minimum wages for workers and unions which may not have gone well.

    The movie gives a very important study of coaching, mentoring & minimum wages for workers. It also shows how workers are exploited by employers.

  2. Actually every movie if look at it from the point of view of learning something, there is something in every movie which one can learn. One has to find out and critically watch the movie for such a thing

  3. MS Dhoni – the Untold Story: Patience, Persistence, Learning from own mistakes, Goal Clarity and passion for that, Never Give Attitude

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