Life And Leadership Lessons From The Wizard
Seventy-seven years ago MGM produced one of the best films of all time – – The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz. It was a 1939 film starring Judy Garland, and has been used over the years to highlight principles for both leading and living.
The key principle is personal accountability. Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow, are great examples of natural human behavior when things go wrong. We make excuses and blame something or someone.
What can we learn from our Oz characters?
- Dorothy: “there’s no place like home.” With all her incredible adventures and friendships along the way, this was her constant goal throughout the storyline.
LESSON #1 — Clarity of Purpose. She never lost this very clear picture of the future, in spite of all the distractions.
- Dorothy: “what would you do with a brain if you had one?”
The motivations for Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion for traveling that Yellow Brick Road – the path — were a little different. But even so, their destination was the same. All of them needed to get to the Emerald City to see the Wizard.
LESSON #2 — great strategies take into consideration individual goals and motivations. By traveling together towards the same goal their safety and success were enhanced.
The Tin Man needed a heart. The Lion needed courage. The Scarecrow needed a brain. Dorothy needed her home. A leader must be aware of the different needs and motivations of the team.
- All Four In Unison: “Lions and tigers and bears! Oh My!”
This was difficult enough for them. Yet just when you think things can’t get worse, here comes those pesky flying monkeys. Things just got worse.
LESSON #3 — when a problem arises, deal with it. Great organizations face tough realities head on. In the process they do not lose sight of their mission. Every worthwhile venture encounters lions, tigers, bears, and those flying monkeys. Walk toward the barking dog. Rather than become distracted by it, deal with it.
- Oz: “I am the great and powerful Oz!! Who are you?!”
LESSON #4 — understand the difference between your role and who you really are. Believing your own press clippings is as unhealthy as drinking your own bath water. It won’t kill you, but it can make you sick. Having a professional PERSONA must be balanced by your PERSON—your personal authenticity.
The Wizard finally came out from behind his props and controls – his persona – and engaged this strange quartet of people as a real person.
This is when employees are motivated to give their very best. The team develops a vulnerability based trust that pulls them together. Customers are drawn to the honesty of spirit and the integrity of action. Trustworthiness is projected. The image and brand can pull people in the door, but just as with the Wizard, authentic relationships get things done and keep folks coming back.
- Wizard: “Back where I come from we have universities, places of great learning, where people go to become great thinkers. And when they come out they think deep thoughts, and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven’t got – a diploma.”
LESSON #5 — How leaders frame issues helps others transform for the better.
Leaders help their followers look at the world from a brand new vantage point. He reframed what could be done even “without a brain”. A diploma was possible! Doors which seemed closed are now open. Things that seemed impossible are now within reach. Reframing perspective provides deep value for those under your care.
- Glinda: “Are you forgetting your ruby slippers?”
LESSON #6 — No one can do it for you. Glinda (a good witch), has informed Dorothy that she has always had the power to go home. Dorothy asks, “Why didn’t you tell me?” Glinda said, “Because you have to find out for yourself. You have to start at the beginning.”
Good leaders know that some things have to be experienced. You can’t always get the important lesson from being taught or reading a book. This is true in all of life, whether you are driving a car, catching a wave, throwing a baseball or riding a bike. Being a leader falls into this category. Some things require experience. It’s a developmental process and must be started at the beginning. The process of becoming a leader is something that no one else can do for you.
So Glinda says, “It’s always best to start at the beginning, and all you do is follow the Yellow Brick Road.” i.e. the path.