There is a very subtle but profound effect that one has after watching movies such as Shawshank Redemption. Movies such as these are etched in the minds of the viewers for the longest times.
On the surface, the movie talks about a man’s (Andy the protagonist) plight in a correctional facility after he’s been wrongfully convicted for a crime, right up to the point where he manages to escape the prison after meticulous planning for years and everything that he does in between.
But the deeper one ponders over the story and the characters; he finds the profound life lessons that the movie is sharing with the viewers. Here are the 6 lessons about leadership that I could find in the movie.
EQUANIMITY: Acceptance of Hard times is the first step out of it
When Andy is wrongly convicted and sentenced to two life terms for the murder of his wife and brought to prison, he remains calm and stoic in his demeanor.
He starts living his life in prison and is assigned work in the prison laundry, where he is frequently raped by a group of inmates called “the sisters” and their leader, Bogs.
After two years Andy gets assaulted by them and nearly gets killed. Even after all this Andy doesn’t break down. It’s evident that he accepts the situation in which, his fate has placed him and he does not complain. He says in the movie that hope is his savior.
The thing to learn from this is that we shall face situations in our life that might not fall in the domain of our likings.
In such times the only sensible thing to do is accept the situation at hand with the wisdom that the night does not last forever and hard time don’t last forever.
People who curse their circumstances suffer. A leader of such stable and wise deposition gets the respect of his supporters.
FAITH: Rising above circumstances
When Andy is in prison, he manages to develops bonds with the other inmates by helping them in various matters.
He also uses his banking skills to help the prison guards with their financial matters, helps re-setup the prison library and launder money for the prison warden. Andy says “hope” is what helps him deal with the adverse circumstances.
Through this we see that a leader has to keep his spirit unbroken and mind calm even in the face of direness and motivate his team to do the same.
A leader is supposed to get the best out of a given situation for him and his team. Andy keeps his spirit intact through hope of justice, someone else does it by a belief in God and some through a non-judgmental attitude towards circumstances.
COURAGE: Taking calculated risks
One a hot and sunny day, when Andy and other inmates are given the task of tarring the roof of one of the prison buildings, he overhears the captain of the guards, Hadley complaining about being taxed on an inheritance.
He takes the risk of offering Hadley help to shelter his money legally in return for a crate of chilled beers for the inmates.
It’s a risk because Hadley almost pushes Andy down the roof to his death for the transgression of eavesdropping. Andy earns the respect of the inmates by doing so.
This instance shows that if a leader has confidence in his abilities and his resources, taking a risk can be very fruitful for him and his team.
SOLIDARITY: Being considerate of the team
In another instance Andy locks himself in the prison warden’s office and starts playing a classical music piece on the public address system.
The music eases the prison environment into one of relaxation and release from its usual monotony. During the time the music plays, the inmates get a brief taste of change from the usual prison discipline, into one of freedom and catharsis.
Andy is sent into solitary confinement for this misdemeanor. This shows Andy’s considerate nature.
A Leader that is considerate of his team members’ needs is loved by them.
TENACITY: Taking little and careful steps toward far off goal
While Andy spends 20 years in the prison, he also secretly digs a tunnel for his escape using nothing but a rock hammer, inch by inch, every day.
This shows Andy’s patience and tenacity which is fueled by the conviction of his innocence.
Leaders need to have a vision and the tenacity to make it a reality.
FORESIGHT: Having far-sightedness and a backup plan for contingencies
Over the 20 years in prison, Andy managed to get into the good books of the warden and his stooges through his resourcefulness.
Andy helped launder unaccounted for money from bribes and undercut skilled labor costs for the warden under a false name,” Randal”. Andy also managed financial matters for the prison staff, guards from other prisons and the warden himself.
He also gathered funds for improving the prison library by writing letters to the legislature. Having had done so much Andy gained the trust of his incarcerators.
He also had completed digging a tunnel from his prison cell for his escape.
When one day, his only hope of proving his innocence and ending his jail term is murdered by the warden, he escapes from the prison through the tunnel he had dug with the evidence of the warden’s money laundering and of the murder. He mails the evidence to a local newspaper.
While the guards look for him, he poses as Randall and withdraws the laundered money from several banks and escapes to Mexico to live as a free man.
As news of his corruption spreads, the warden commits suicide to avoid arrest.
This shows how Andy prepared for this day, everyday for the last 20 years.
Good leaders ensure preparedness in case of contingencies. They do this through a calm, sharp and calculative mind with a far-sighted approach. The leader motivates his team to work up a plan-B little by little everyday apart from the usual work to cultivate preparedness for uncalled for events.