Leadership Lessons from The Croods
I went to see The Croods with my son this weekend – in case it hasn’t crossed your radar screen, it’s a new Dreamworks movie about a family of cave people. It was surprisingly funny and surprisingly touching – definitely worth watching. The basic plot centers around a family has managed to survive when all their neighbors have been eaten, crushed, or otherwise annihilated by one (or more) of the many dangers that are ubiquitous in the world around them by adopting a hyper-conservative, risk minimizing strategy. They hunker. New is bad and all of Dad’s stories involve someone trying something new and ending up dead.
Sound like any companies you know?
Of course along comes change in the form of a kid who somehow knows that the end is near. Change is coming and the strategy that worked before will not only fail now, but it will be an epic failure. And so the Croods get dragged, some willingly, some not so much, into change for the sake of survival. Nominally the lead character is the young girl (Eep) who embraces change and loves everything new. But the one that carries the message is Grug (voiced by Nicolas Cage). At first he is the clear leader. His family might not love every decision, but they clearly feel that he has gotten them this far with his mantra (never not be afraid) and they trust him. But when change begins to come, his leadership position erodes. His team fractures, and he slides into trying to pretend to be innovative while not actually changing his mindset.
Sound like any leaders you know?
In the climax of the movie, Grug’s “never not be afraid” mentality is challenged by Guy’s very simple “you can do it”. Grug doesn’t make the leap then, but he does a bit later when finally, after much struggle he has an idea of his own. Hollywood happy ending? Yes, absolutely. But it left me thinking hard about my own response to change. Do I get stuck resisting new ideas because what I’ve done before has worked? Do I pretend to change, pretend to embrace innovation while secretly avoiding and undermining progress?
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