Leadership Lessons from Behind the Scenes

Leadership Lessons from Behind the Scenes

Leadership Lessons from Behind the Scenes

I recently went behind the scenes at the OFS Movie Studio, one of the largest and busiest movie studios in Metro Atlanta. The studio has produced movies including Black Panther, Godzilla, The Avengers, and The Fast + Furious. I was given special access as a member of Leadership Gwinnett alumni, and it was a rare and unique opportunity − since OFS tours are not available to the general public. After touring the 300,000 square-foot space, and hearing representatives of OFS speak, I came away with some valuable leadership lessons.

Here are 10 ways to make your leadership communications and presentations more effective. They are applicable across diverse professional settings and industries.

1) Effective Communication

Clear and effective communication is crucial on a movie set in order to convey the director’s vision, manage expectations, and address any issues that may arise. Leaders in a movie studio utilize articulate and respectful communication, both one-on-one and in group settings, to build trust and nurture a work environment that boosts morale.

2) An Engaging Hook

In movies, the opening scene often sets the tone for the entire story while capturing the audience’s attention. Use a compelling, attention-grabbing intro for your leadership meetings and presentations to pique interest and encourage active audience engagement and participation. As I tell my clients, you want to trigger your audience’s curiosity right out of the gate. That inspires them to tune in with greater excitement and curiosity.

3) Effective Storytelling

Movies are known for their powerful storytelling and leaders can take a cue from this to more effectively convey their messages through storytelling. Frame ideas and concepts within a narrative, making your communications more relatable and memorable. That enables your audience to better understand and personally connect with the message. Just like in the movies, that starts with writing a great script and then practicing it until you can deliver it in an inspiring, authentic, persuasive manner.

4) Audience-Centric Communication

In filmmaking, directors always consider their target audience when making creative decisions. Leaders should similarly tailor their communications to resonate with specific audiences. Understand your audience’s needs, preferences, and values. That allows for more effective and empathetic communication, making it more likely to be well-received.

5) Become Fluent in Body Language

Actors and directors fully understand how even subtle changes in behavior speak volumes to the audience. That includes your tone of voice, choice of words, and body language like gestures and facial expressions. Leaders who master fluency in this often overlooked skillset become more influential and are better able to convey their messages with power and clarity.

6) Build Anticipation & Leave Them Wanting More

Successful movies often leave audiences wanting more, with a cliffhanger or unresolved element that teases a sequel. Leaders can also apply this concept. Encourage ongoing engagement and commitment to future initiatives by leaving teams or stakeholders with a sense of inspired anticipation. Doing so is particularly useful for long-term projects or ongoing strategic planning.

7) Collaboration & Teamwork

As I learned on my tour, movie production involves a large and diverse team of professionals − including actors, directors, writers, producers, and crew members. Leaders in a movie studio must foster a dynamic culture of collaborative teamwork. You can do the same, by designing teams so that each member shares their talents generously, to help others succeed. Encourage people to voice their unique perspectives and respect everyone’s ideas − which also inspires innovation.

8) Emotional Intelligence

Movie sets can be high-pressure environments where emotions often run high. Effective leaders in the movie industry must exercise strong emotional intelligence to navigate the complexities of human interactions and successfully manage conflicts. Emotional intelligence is invaluable to leaders regardless of their industry or role. Cultivate it through active listening, genuine empathy, and practicing gravitas and self-discipline, even when the pressure is intense.

9) Adaptability and Flexibility

In the movie industry, unexpected setbacks and changes are common. Oftentimes they have to reshoot scenes over and over again. Similarly, leaders must be adaptable and flexible, able to pivot when necessary without compromising the overall vision. Develop a solution-oriented mindset that allows you to accept and adjust to change. Realize that the only thing you can accurately predict 100% of the time is that change will happen. But change is the symptom of growth. So see it as an opportunity to grow as a leader.

10) Risk Management

Movie production requires a substantial financial investment, and leaders must be adept at assessing and mitigating risks. As a leader in any field, learn to evaluate potential project challenges, whether related to creative decisions, market factors, available resources, or external influences. Then you can make informed decisions to protect the investment of time, labor, and money.


Incorporate these 10 lessons from the movie industry into your own leadership. Practicing them will make you a more effective and engaging leader, capable of capturing and retaining your audience’s attention and interest. That applies to teams, business partners, the media, and key decision makers in the board room.

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