Lessons in Leadership from the Movie Gladiator

For those of you who have not seen this morale-boosting movie, Russell Crowe portrays the fictional character of Maximus Meridius, a loyal General of the Northern Legions of the Roman Army, who is betrayed when the emperor Marcus Aurelius’ ambitious son, Commodus, murders his own father and seizes the throne. Reduced to slavery, Maximus rises through the ranks of the gladiatorial arena to avenge the murder of his beloved mentor and emperor.

As I mentioned, several lessons in leadership can be observed and felt deeply in the first five minutes of the movie. These few minutes demonstrate a certain leadership style that rocks the viewer. Maximus, in the scene, returns to his army to meet briefly with other generals to finalize the coordination of the Roman cavalry and infantry attack on German warriors. As he walks through the ranks of infantry, you see something very powerful – mutual admiration and respect. Maximus even stops to speak with one of the soldiers who has a head wound and taps him on the shoulder. In that moment, you gain a true sense of mutual respect and understand that either man would do anything to help the other succeed.

Leaders don’t always set out to become leaders; it is just who they are. It is movies like Gladiator that allow us to glimpse these qualities so that we may learn. We are given the opportunity to extract those qualities that move us from within and motivate us to exhibit these same characteristics in our lives, both in business and in our personal lives.

Five examples of what creates a leader can be quickly realized from this movie:

They do the right thing.

  1. They boldly make tough decisions when those around them are unwilling or fearful.
  2. They lead by example.
  3. They respect and appreciate the effort of others.
  4. They have heart, passion, and an unwavering focus on their goals.

Leaders are developed over time and become respected by consistently conducting themselves in ways that cause others to look at them with admiration.