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3 Leadership Lessons from “Hidden Figures”​

I was skimming through movies that have impacted me and ‘Hidden Figures’ stood out as one of them. And of all the inspiring threads that the movie was made of, I would like to share 3 messages for visionary leaders in this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world from the movie.

  1. Articulating a Vision so everyone ‘gets’ it

  “So, do you think we’ll get to the moon?” “ We are already there, sir”. This dialogue between Al Harrison and Katherine Johnson reminds leaders that if your team can see your vision and are committed to making it a reality, it is because as a leader you have not just powerfully communicated it but they see a sense of personal meaning and want to make it a reality.

2. Meet the needs of ‘team members’ a.k.a. leader’s internal customers

“Out of all the cases you will hear today, which one is going to matter 100 years from now, which one is going to make you the first?” Mary Jackson’s personal appeal to the state judge to consider her for college application lands on relenting ears. The skill for making good requests that fulfils the needs of team members – “need to be unique” is one such universal need – is a mark of a good leader.

3. Don’t get set in your ways

“Every time we get a chance to get ahead they move the finish line. Every time”. Mary Jackson makes this statement out of despair in the movie. But the challenge eggs her and her friends on to the road of success. The ability to be ‘flexible’ instead of being ‘perfect’ – is what makes for a leadership competency. Leaders who are able to flex their approach are good learners. They are truly committed to learning and growing.

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