When the movie Gladiator was released in 2000, it was nominated in 36 individual ceremonies, including the 73rd Academy Awards, the BAFTA Awards, and the Golden Globe Awards. Of 119 award nominations, the film won 48 prizes including 5 Academy Awards. But this was not everything about this movie.
Besides the outstanding Music, Script, and Scenes, the part which I found interesting about this movie is your capability to watch it again and again whenever you see it on the T.V screen without getting bored. And whenever I asked one of my friends who saw the movie, he usually gave me the same feedback. So I kept asking myself: ‘’What’s so special about this movie which keeps attracting me each time?’’, and the answer was simple and in one word: ‘’Maximus’’.
David Franzoni the scriptwriter and Ridley Scott the Director succeeded in framing Maximus (Russell Crowe) as a great leader, who earned our love, sympathy, and respect during the movie. And that is the main reason why you enjoyed watching the movie. Because of Maximus.
Being a real leader is not easy. Tons of people around you can tell you how real leadership should be even though they do not even apply its basic principles themselves. And that is why unfortunately the world contains only a few amount of great leaders.
Getting back to the movie, if you focused a little bit, you would discover some of the real leadership characteristics that Maximus conveyed and made you enjoy watching him through the film. I am breaking some of these characteristics down as follows:
1- He had a vision.
How many times in the movie have you heard him speaking about the king’s last wish and picture about how Rome should be?
Besides this big vision, his vision was to retire from the army and go back to work as a farmer with his family.
Checkpoint: What is your vision and what are you striving to achieve in your life?
2- He was fighting for a noble cause.
His primary motive to fight was seeking revenge for his family members which were killed by the emperor (and I will leave this point to you to judge if it’s noble or not based on your beliefs). But the main noble cause that I mean is that he wanted to make sure that the right King is leading Rome.
Checkpoint: Which significant noble cause are you fighting for? Living to build a career, family and have enough money are good personal targets, and building a healthy family is a private noble cause itself, but remember that the people who fought for general public worthy causes are the people who are always memorialized in history.
3- He had values.
How many times have you heard him speaking about ‘’strength and honor’’ in the movie? In fact, this was his theme and greeting to his team whenever they were splitting to do a mission. You felt as if they were reminding themselves all the time about their values.
Checkpoint: What are your values? In other words, the things and principles that you are willing to die defending them?
4- He was always fighting ‘’within’’ his people.
In the beginning of the movie when he was the General of the army, and even during the rest of the film when he was a Gladiator, he was always fighting side by side beside his team members. Not in front of them or behind them……beside them in the front line.
Checkpoint: Does your team at work, in sports or at any place feel that you are leading them side by side? Or they feel that they are taking the full burden and you are just managing them?
5- He broke through the fears of the people and made them believe they can achieve the impossible through teamwork.
Remember when the team of Gladiators went to fight the first time in the Colosseum? The place was huge and new for them, and they were fighting against some soldiers from the army with more advanced equipment and were scared till death. Here came the role of the great leader Maximus when he told them in a very confident manner:‘’if we stayed together we have a chance to survive’’. He led them based on his experience, and through his words, confident tone of voice and above all his actions, the team of gladiators started feeling that they have a chance to win.
Checkpoint: How do people feel after speaking with you in any situation in life? Do you foster teamwork? Do people feel a difference ”under” your leadership style? Is this difference positive or negative? And if negative, how you can change that?
6- He was a compassionate leader and sometimes humorous in the middle of the most critical situations.
In the worst situations and the most critical ones, and even sometimes before they faced a deathful situation or a fight, he was always smiling and occasionally joking with his fellow Gladiators and also with his army when he was still an Army General.
Checkpoint: How do you perceive stressful situations? Emotions are contagious, no matter if they are positive or negative. So can you tolerate stress or do you transfer stress to the people around you including your team if you are leading one? Do you enter your business meetings at work, enter your home, or meet with your friends smiling? Or frowning to ‘’try’’ to look serious?
7- He was a strategic thinker.
During the most critical fights, he was able to switch the army and Gladiator’s strategic formations according to how the battle is going and how the enemy responded.
Checkpoint: Do you have the flexibility to change your ways to fit with the fast-paced environment that we are living in? Besides this, do you deal with all the people around you the same way, or do you understand that people are different?
8- He kept his promises, so he won the trust of the people.
When one of the senators was speaking with him, Maximus told him that he would fight until he removes the emperor and then he will leave the empire to the Senators to choose the best candidate to lead Rome.
The senator at the beginning did not believe that Maximus can leave a position of authority (if he reaches this position) simply like this, but when he remembered how much the previous murdered King of Rome Marcus Aurelius respected and trusted Maximus and his words, he accepted immediately.
Checkpoint: What is your reputation? Do you keep your promises? Do the people around you trust your words? If not, how can you change that?
9- He was clear about what he wants and his priorities.
From the beginning of the movie when he was an army General, and he was always repeating that he wants to retire as soon as possible and go back and live with his family. To make such a decision is not easy, and to leave wealth and authority at such an early age is something worth respect. And if it conveyed something, it communicates that this person is clear about what he wants and that he has priorities
Checkpoint: What are your priorities in life? Are you clear about what you want? If not, what can you do today to make the things more clear for you?
10- Finally, he demonstrated that a leader could lead without a title or a real official authority.
The whole movie was built on this point except the first 20-30 minutes, so I will not speak about it.
Checkpoint: how many times at work or in your personal life have you said to yourself ‘’ I will not interfere, I do not have authority to change this?’’. The blockage and limitations are only found in our brains and not the level of authority that we have.
Now, If you watched the movie, and you really liked it and were affected so much by his style, then why don’t you use some of the characteristics that you liked in order to improve your leadership style in the company that you are working for, in your own business or your life in general?
If I asked you if you are willing to watch this movie again, would you say yes? I bet you will say so because nothing resonates with people more than watching a true leader. In fact, the world is always searching for the next true leader whom they can trust and follow….Why don’t you be the next one?