Just as books can serve as a springboard to learning, some movies can produce insightful tenants on leadership development. In the recent Hollywood blockbuster, “The Equalizer,” renowned actor, Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall, a low-key supervisor at a local Home Depot. Yet, his authentic self remains aloof. No one really knows the real Robert McCall. However, as the movie progresses, McCall begins to privately reveal different aspects of his former life through a series of dangerous situations. The attributes of McCall’s name and character that were hidden among his past begins to surface as McCall fights for the rights of others. Although this article is not a treatise on the movie, it does provide a leadership lesson that can transform how successful leaders think about the power associated with their name.
From a leadership perspective, what lesson can be derived from McCall’s character? The answer lies within his name. On the surface, McCall appears to be a mild, quiet, and wholesome man. Yet, as the movie transpires, McCall’s outward persona changes. The real McCall steps out of the shadows of his past and begins to act in accordance with his real character.
In the context of the movie, let’s look at several thought-provoking questions. What kind of leader are you? Do you value the importance and quality of your name? What does your name reveal about you? When people think about you and your leadership style, what adjectives or characteristics are used to describe the authentic you? Does your behavior reflect a person of character, honesty, integrity, and respect? How do you treat your staff, your peers, and your boss? Have you created a work environment that fosters teamwork? Have you established a reputation that makes you an ethical leader worth following?
Leaders destined to add long-lasting, positive and strategic substance to their organization values the importance of their name, and their reputation. They don’t flaunt with danger and compromise their integrity. Proverbs 22:1 declares, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” Unfortunately, history is replete with examples of leaders who fail to understand this simple, yet profound truth.
Successful leaders are cognizant of their daily actions. They make informed decisions and credible choices. They are confident, competent, and caring servant leaders who strive and seek to make a difference in the organization, and the lives of others. As a leader, they are conscious of the fact that their decision-making is on public display.
When it comes to leadership, successful leaders understand that authentic leadership is based on influence. The core essence of leadership is the ability to influence the behavior of others to the extent that they are willing to engage in activities that promote accomplishment of the organization’s mutual goals and objectives. Therefore, in order to exercise credible influence, successful leaders must value their reputation, and the importance of not just a name – but a good name!