Storytelling is an irreplaceable part of our culture. Right from the bedtime stories to the larger than life cinematic sagas – we humans love a good story!
This has a lot to do with the emotions evoked by them. A well directed script could take us on an emotional journey like no other. We find ourselves emerged in the world of the protagonist. We laugh when they laugh, we cry when they cry. And, we jump in joy when we see them win!
Movies, thus, can help connect and inspire people. They can even serve as an experiential tool for organisations to inspire and enable team building. Renowned coaches and managers worldwide have been using movies to instill and fortify the ideas or values they wish to see emulated by their team.
After all, learning can and should often, be fun!
Presenting a list of movies that are of great help on demonstrating or promoting team building, team dynamics and leadership –
Invictus is one of the most inspiring movies ever made. The movies take us through Nelson Mandela’s first days as president of post-apartheid South Africa. The story focuses on Mandela and how he uses the historically hapless South African Springboks rugby team to bring the country together.
Embodied by the slogan, “One Team, One Country” Mandela set the goal of the Springboks winning the World Cup. The exciting and heart-touching saga portrays the team’s inspiring journey and also, how Mandela established his leadership as president.
2. Coach Carter
Coach Carter is a movie based on the true story of Coach Ken Carter. A top basketball player who returns to his local high school to coach their dysfunctional team.
The team struggles with a host of challenges including a lack of discipline, acts of aggression, physical assault, familial dysfunction, and lack of cohesion. The story also brings to light a host of other issues like lack of adherence to rules, and poor academic success.
But what remains undeniable is each member’s love for the game. The movie also celebrates their need to be a part of something bigger and better than the streets. This becomes the driving force behind Carter’s attempt to encourage and teach them. Samuel Jackson delivers. Powerful performance as Coach Carter. The story builds up as the team discovers values like hard work, discipline, and courage. A real life tale of finding purpose and coming together of a team – this one will make a great fit for your team building needs.
3. Remember the Titans
Remember the titans reflects the journey of a newly appointed African-American coach and his high school team on their first season as a racially integrated unit.
The movie is loosely based on the story of T.C. Williams High School football team. The movie documents the trials and tribulations of the football team as two different cultures come together. The movie takes us on a fast paced journey. Two different worlds collide as the team attempts to reach a common goal – winning the state football championship.
The story brings to life the importance of trust. They grow from strength to strength with each new obstacle. Each new roadblock puts their collective trust to test in unprecedented ways.
Situations arise that raise ugly questions and has the potential to wreck the team apart. However, each time focusing on the common goal of winning the state championship allows them to move ahead. The movie brings to surface a host of important values like hard work, dedication, sacrifice, leadership, and success.
Another inspirational saga, this one follows the development of the US men’s hockey team leading up to their victory at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics under coach Herb Brooks.
The narrative brings to life Bruce Tuckman‘s world famous ‘stages of team formation’ – Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing.
A moving tale, it also brings to surface the importance of qualities like teamwork, discipline, bravery, and determination. As the audience, you will find yourself cheering them on as they overcome impossible odds to rise from being underdogs to champions.
5. Apollo 13
Apollo 13 is the gripping true story of 3 astronauts stranded in space and NASA’s unrelenting effort to bring them safely home.
As a result of the movie Apollo 13,
“Failure is not an option,”
has worked its way into many a group’s mission and vision. The technicians and astronauts in Ron Howard’s epic provide rational leadership during a crisis. Interestingly enough, the story can be used to draw parallels with remotely working teams.
Gene Kranz (Ed Harris), in charge of flight operations in Houston, and Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), commander of the lunar mission, display exceptional leadership skills when an explosion occurs on the Apollo 13 craft. They employ values like teamwork, ingenuity, and rational thinking to solve a nearly impossible problem.
Krantz and Lovell manage to maintain control in the midst of a maddening situation, even As chaos ensues. Their calm demeanour inspires confidence among the rest of the group. The movie goes to show that even though leaders expect loyalty and passion from their teams, it is important to secure the group’s trust, first.
6. Facing The Giants
Following in the steps of the previous movie, Facing The Giants is also a sports based story, The movie follows the inspiring story of a losing coach of an underdog football team, The Eagles. Their journey ends with them taking on the ‘giants’ on-field, as well as their biggest fears, off-field.
Grant Taylor is a Christian high school football coach, for whose his undying faith is his ultimate weapon against fear and failures. In his six years of coaching, he had never led his Shiloh Eagles to a winning season.
Tragedy strikes as he and his wife Brooke are diagnosed with infertility. Grant also discovers that a group of parents’ are secretly organising to have him dismissed as head coach.
Devastated by his circumstances, he cries out to God in desperation. When Grant receives a message from an unexpected visitor, he looks for a stronger purpose for his football team. He dares to challenge his players to believe God for the impossible. on and off the field.
When faced with unbelievable odds, the Eagles must step up to their greatest test of strength and courage. What transpires is a dynamic story of the fight between faith and fear. Facing the Giants is a powerful experience for the audience. And, it will inspire your team to live with faith and give their very best at all times.
Shackleton is a true story of Shackleton’s 1914 Endurance expedition to the South Pole and his epic struggle to lead his 28-man crew to safety after his ship was crushed in the pack ice.
On August 1, 1914 Sir Ernest Shackleton set sail with a crew of 28 on an expedition to the Antarctic. The mission of their expedition was to cross the Antarctic on foot – something never done before. Shackleton exemplified the riveting examples of the tremendous difference strong leadership and teamwork can make under conditions of adversity, uncertainty and change. During those tough and cold months, he held his crew together, inspired them and motivated them. He made sure they understood their objective and what role each must play to attain their goal. Shackleton’s leadership is widely credited with making the essential difference.
8. Glory Road
Glory Road is the story of Texas Western coach Don Haskins leading the first all-black starting line-up for a college basketball team to the NCAA national championship.
Josh Lucas plays Don Haskins, a coach determined to find success on college basketball’s grandest stage. With no recruiting budget and waning support, the coach’s assignment to turn the program into a winner is a tall order.
Haskins starts recruiting African-American players from northern cities, a daring move in the Deep South at the time. This way, he builds a team that sneaks up on the basketball establishment. Their growing success on the court, however, is greeted by racially motivated persecution that increases with each win.
With convincing acting and a redemptive message, GLORY ROAD is a winner. Full of teamwork, drama, heart, and soul, it serves as a complete package. Coach Haskins’ commitment to doing the right thing, and his faith that doing so would pay off, is a moral lesson that’s worth sharing.
9. Chak De India
Chak De India is the powerful story of a former national hockey player, who after having to step down due to alleged malpractice, returns to the game as a coach of a women’s hockey team.
A team that existed more on paper and less in reality, goes on to win a world cup against all odds. A story that shines a light on the infinite power of impactful team work, it should definitely be on your list.
It depicts the values it takes to build a match-winning team and what it takes to achieve seemingly impossible situations. Shahrukh Khan, who plays the role of Kabir Khan, brings to life a complicated character with great conviction.
10. Thirteen Days
Thirteen Days is the dramatic representation of President Kennedy’s administration’s struggle with the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962
It captures the political mood in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy had an axe to grind as he tried to avert a nuclear war with the Soviet Union.
The movie drives home the unbelievable truth of the Cuban Missile Crisis. A confrontation that could have ended in an all consuming nuclear war. It allows one to be a fly on the wall as a distressed president and his advisers struggle with an intractable problem.
Viewers vicariously experience the uncertainties and a chilling fear of failure as the President tries to choose between options, even as they could trigger an irreversible nuclear war. The audience is brought face-to-face the essential and ultimately decisive role of the President.
Thirteen Days is a beautiful study in leadership. Conflcit management, crisis management, and proper use of resources are just some of the values that are brought to surface, as the story progresses forward.
A film based on the fight of the U.S. Civil War’s first all-black regiment, glory is truly powerful. The audience is taken on a journey of overcoming prejudice as the regiment becomes a successful and cohesive unit.
A true story of the Civil War, the movie is both touching and inspirational. The first black unit from the North to be trained and actually go into battle, they are led by their young and empathetic Colonel (played brilliantly by Matthew Broderick)
The 54th Regiment endures many hardships, common to both the soldiers as well as the rest of the African Americans. Their spirit, pride and tears along the way, is brought to life beautifully by the various actors. Their exceptional performance will make you feel all the anguish and pride, as the movie reaches its climax.
When an unexpected enemy threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the secret international peace keeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster.
He calls on the timeless superheroes of the iconic Marvel. Universe – Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow to form the invincible team of Avengers.
Beyond the larger than life entertainment value of this film, “The Avengers” LSP brings to life many leadership and organisational values –
- You can’t do it alone
- Somebody has to take charge and it doesn’t have to be the strongest.
- You can’t win without conviction
The franchise continues to rule the hearts of loyal fans, globally.
13. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
In a small village, located in the Shire, a young Hobbit named Frodo has been entrusted with an ancient ring. Powerful but dark magic exists in this ring, far beyond anything Frodo has ever faced o experienced. Now he must embark on an epic middle earth quest to the Cracks of Doom in order to destroy it.
An epic adventure of good against evil – this epic saga is as timeless, as it is entertaining. A celebration of friendship and courage, the movie is true masterpiece.
14. The Incredibles
Pixar’s “The Incredibles” is easily the brightest, funniest, and most inspiring film of the year 2004—a multi-faceted team-building story that entertains, as well as it inspires.
A family of superheroes, known as The Incredibles are forced to hide their powers and live a quiet suburban life. Mr. Incredible’s desire to help people draws the entire family into a battle with an evil villain and his killer robot.
With our feed being absolutely flooded with superhero movies, it’s hard to imagine there’s much originality left in the genre. However, “The Incredibles” manages to do it just right.
Kids will enjoy the exuberance of characters like Dash. However, as a grown up, you are more likely to be surprised by how smart the movie is, and how sneakily perceptive.
15. The Dirty Dozen
In March 1944, OSS officer Major John Reisman is ordered by the commander of ADSEC in Great Britain to undertake a secret project called Project Amnesty : a top-secret mission to train some of the US Army’s worst prisoners and turn them into commandos to be sent on a virtual suicide mission just before D-Day.
The target is in Brittney, where dozens of high-ranking German officers are to be eliminated. This is being planned to disrupt the chain of command of the Wehrmacht in Northern France before the Allied invasion.
Reisman starts to groom the prisoners and puts them through heavy commando training. A story of the coming together of an impossible group and the celebration of Reisman’s leadership, this one’s definitely worth the watch.
This movie chronicles the story of a small-town Indiana basketball team that made the state finals in 1954. A beautiful depiction of a coach with a spotty past who finally leads his town’s high school team to victory, this one will touch your heart.
If you are sports fan, in particular, this movie will bring a tear or two to your eyes. However, this story is for everyone who believes in redemption.
Few films, whatever the topic, have the “heart” this movie demonstrates.
17. Take the lead
Watch the charming Pierre Dulaine and a bunch of school rejects-turned-impassioned dancers take the lead. An inspirational story about the harsh realities of the life in a New York public school, this one is poetry in motion.
Inspired by a true story, Take the Lead revolves around the idea of the professional dancer Pierre Dulaine volunteering to teach ballroom dancing in New York City’s South Bronx High School.
When his formal background and classic methods clash with his students’ rebellious, hip-hop instincts, his efforts are given due credit as his class creates a new style of dance. Their style captures their common interest and inspire them to take on their teen challenges with confidence, at every step.
18. We Were Soldiers
The story of the initial military movement into North Vietnam by the United States, this one will inspire you into action. The US military pioneers a new way of attack with the air cavalry being moved around by helicopters. Hal Moore, a US Colonel spear-heads this new attack method.
Eventually the order comes in to move into Vietnam and the attack starts against the forces of northern Vietnam. With relentless bravery Moore’s men face triumph and loss as they fight for the country they believe in, and also for each other.
19. Tuskegee Airmen
The Tuskegee Airmen the true story of how a group of African American pilots overcame racist opposition to become one of the finest US fighter groups in World War II.
During the Second World War, a special project is begun by the US Army Air Corps to integrate African American pilots into the Fighter Pilot Program. Known as the “Tuskegee Airman” for the name of the airbase at which they were trained, these men were forced to constantly endure harassment, prejudice, and much behind the scenes politics until at last they were able to prove themselves in combat.
20. Any Given Sunday
Any Given Sunday is a 1999 American drama film directed by Oliver Stone depicting a fictional professional American football team.
An aging football coach finds himself struggling with his personal and professional life while trying to hold his team together. A star quarterback has been knocked out of the game and a naive football player replaces him only to become exposed to the world of sports and become a danger to himself and to his players. Meanwhile, the coach finds himself constantly at battle with the team owner’s money and power hungry daughter intent on moving the team out.
One of the most inspirational moments in the movie is the speech delivered by Al Pacino to the football team. If you listen carefully, it’s a speech about living life to it’s fullest, giving your best and working as a team with those around you.
21. A Bug’s Life
Inspired by the Aesop’s fable ‘The Ant and The Grasshopper,’ this animated film has won the hearts of millions of people worldwide! The story revolves around the life and struggles of Flik, an individualist and inventor ant who wants to help the ant colony stand up for their rights and fight off a gang of a gang of marauding grasshoppers led by Hopper. After being thrown out of the colony owing to his revolutionary ideas, he joins forces with circus bugs, whom he mistakes for warrior bugs and returns to the Ant colony. This silly misunderstanding leads to an adventurous tale, that brings out the importance of conflict management and team work, beautifully!
Released in 1995, Braveheart is a fictional war film based on the invasion of Scotland by King Edward Longshanks and the consequential rebellion of one William Wallace, it is a timeless tale of bravery, leadership, and teamwork. With an exceptional cast including Mel Gibson, as the protagonist William Wallace, Braveheart continues to rule the hearts of audiences worldwide, decades after being released!
23. The A-Team
A cult classic, this one packs a powerful team of actors including Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Quinton Jackson, and Sharlot Copley!
An action based adventure, this one takes the audience through the rough terrains of Black Op operations, international terrorists, mixed with intelligent warfare. The storyline is as captivating as it is heartfelt.
With team work at the heart of it, this movie is bound to energise your team and make them move forward with passion and enthusiasm.
24. The Mighty Ducks
After being pulled over for drunk driving, US attorney Gordon Bombay, (played by Emilio Estevez) is sentenced to community service and is required to coach the local ’District 5’ peewee hockey team.
The team is portrayed as the the perennial losers, always placed at the bottom of the league standings – year after year.
Bombay, himself is a former Hawks member, an elite team in the league. Bombay was forced to leave them following deep embarrassment after a failed attempt at a penalty shot that cost the team, a championship.
The movie focuses on the collective journey of Coach Bombay, and the District 5 team (known as the Ducks) as they overcome obstacles to finally clear the play-offs. Things get even more interesting turn when Bombay adds a new player by the name Adam Banks, an ex-Hawk who is a talented player and becomes an asset for the Ducks.
The team faces the Hawks, the team Bombay grew up playing for, still led by Jack Reilly – Bombay’s old coach. Fittingly, the Ducks win the title game on a penalty shot by Bombay’s protégé, Charlie Conway.
A tale of friendship and second chances – it is bound to move your team to tears and inspire them, at the same time.
25. The Great Escape
Based on a true story, the movie follows the heart wrenching journey of a group of 250 men who manage to escape from a German prisoner of war camp in 1944.
Their journey throw light on a host of qualities that enable effective teamwork. An inspirational tale of resilience and perseverance – this one is a must watch!
Do take out time to watch these movies with your teams. It will not only give an opportunity for all the team members to reflect on some of the important lessons from the movies, but will also serve as a very healthy motivational exercise to boost the morale of your team.
Do share with us, which are the team movies that have inspired you the most? Also, try watching these movies with your teams and facilitate reflection on the lessons and how you can use the positive behavior displayed in the movies at your workplace. It truly helps; do share your experiences with us.