The movie I went with for the Leadership Development Initiative film study was Invictus. In the end, what persuaded me was the timeliness of the story as well as the tight package of leadership lessons in 135 minutes. Let me share a few of my questions I used to stir conversation after the movie.
Invictus Study Guide
There were a number of characters who demonstrated leadership. We’ll start with Nelson Mandela, but most of us can’t identify with his character, so we’ll then look at a couple of the other characters.
- At the beginning, there’s a headline: “He can win an election, but can he run a country?” As Mandela grants, it’s a good question. Describe the leadership insight in that headline.
- Describe Mandela’s leadership style. In what ways—both bold strategies and small gestures—did Mandela demonstrate servant leadership?
- Can you think of any times when Mandela used a different leadership style? How did he employ situational leadership?
- What symbols and images were used by Mandela to bring about change?
- What are the upsides and challenges of attempting to repurpose a symbol?
- Mandela sets his goal on winning the World Cup—a goal he has no direct influence over. What strategies does he deploy?
- What did you learn about the relationship between leadership and followership?
- Name some of the other leaders in this movie. Which one do you most identify with? Why?
- Two in particular stand out, both of which are in #2 positions. Francois Pinaar, of course. But consider his chief of staff. In what ways does she support Mandela? In what ways does she challenge and become a foil to Mandela’s goals? What can we learn from her example?
- From Pinaar’s example, what can we learn about leadership when you’re not in the top position? How can leaders in #2 positions contribute to carrying forward the vision?
- The William Ernest Henley poem Invictus became an inspiration to Nelson Mandela during his captivity, and he uses it to inspire Pinaar. It ends with the lines, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” What does Mandela’s inspiration tell us about the importance of leading yourself before you lead others?
- While there’s no evidence that Mandela was a follower of Jesus Christ, his life exemplifies the gospel message. Ultimately, Mandela’s modeling and message of grace is what sets him apart in human history. In what ways does he lead his country into grace and forgiveness? What were the pundits saying about South Africa when Mandela was first released, and what was the result of his counter-cultural leadership?