Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The redemption of Mr Banks (and Mr Disney)

I am not sure when exactly I realised Mary Poppins is all about fatherhood. It was sometime since I saw and loved it as a child and long way before Saving Mr Banks came along. It suddenly hit me like a forceful palm to my forehead. It was all about being redeemed as a father, with dear Mary Poppins being the gentlest and sunniest of facilitators.

And since I realised this, I now only ever see the film backwards. In other words, everything is building up to that moment at the end when a kite is made and flown. Saving Mr Banks mirrors this, since of course we know the end from the beginning: Mary Poppins is made and becomes one of the world's most charming and adored films of all time. So I watched for clues as to how this 'kite' is eventually made since so much of the time in the film, it is lying in pieces. Mrs P L Travers seems robustly resistant to letting Mary Poppins fly.

And in the end, not only is Mr Banks saved but so is Walt Disney. I won't reveal how: but redemption is all around in the film.

Which got me wondering, how many leaders can truly redeem both themselves and others too. 

Redemption may be defined as "the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil". In part, this is what leaders should be doing all all the time: taking action to save their people, their organisation and their business from error if not evil.

But how do you become a 'redemptive leader' like Mary Poppins? It cannot just be about magical chalk drawings or being 'practically perfect in every way'. (Although they can help...) Instead I think it boils down to three things:
  • Humble non-attachment: the recognition that what is achieved is due to collective effort and is never down to just the one person
  • Bright determination: the commitment to making a difference but in a way that is wholesome, upbeat and courteous
  • Knowing when to go: ultimately we all redeem ourselves and so while leaders can help this happen, these leaders must also step aside to let the full process occur
What else does it take to be a redemptive leader do you think?

This is the first of my new series of blogs about leadership ideas to be found in the movies of our time. You can read here as why I am doing this. Please subscribe to this blog if you want to read more. Thanks.

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