Weekly Read Chapter 2 pg 3

Starting this week, I’m going to share a random page a week from my upcoming book for everyone to read. My only ask is that you take a few minutes to provide some feedback and reaction to what you read. Is the material relevant? Do you like the writing style? Is it an easy read, etc. So, let’s get into it.

At this point you are probably thinking what does this have to do with leadership and teamwork?  That’s a movie. I run a team of telemarketers, sales people and accountants. Those guys got lucky with that movie and we never heard from them again.  It was a one time occurrence. There’s nothing here that will help me with my team.

Let’s take a closer look and see if that’s really the case.

Eduardo and his partner had to convince everyone involved with the movie that it merited their very best efforts even though they could not guarantee that the movie would even be released.  Almost by definition this is what leadership is about, laying out a vision and convincing everyone on the team that they have a part to play in bringing that larger vision into being.  Imagine what it took to keep everyone on task after long days of wandering the woods of Maryland carrying your own equipment. No craft services or air conditioned trailers and the end of filming.  No wardrobe, no stunt doubles. No fans or red carpets, just 10 days of grueling guerilla style movie making. The movie was picked up after its initial screening at Sundance in 1998 and even then, there was only a single offer made by Artisan Films.  

If you’re having trouble with team cohesion and direction have you looked at the possibility that the team simply isn’t on the same page when it comes to their direction, vision and goals? And if that is the case, who is responsible for that? Leaders who are able to clearly establish a goal that is larger than any one person’s personal goals are typically able to move the entire team in the direction that best allows the team to meet the team goals and if you as the leader have also figured out how to incorporate those important and often overlooked individual goals, then you could be on your way to crafting a team that will consistently deliver in unique and unexpected ways.   

The movie was paid for largely out of their own pockets, they did receive some financial support from one specific backer, but the bulk of the movie was self funded.  With the movie being self funded, frugality was a necessity.  In the earlier quote, Eduardo described how they used what they had available to make the movie.  They didn’t put the movie on hold until they could get more advanced equipment, instead they used what was available to see the project through and along the way figured out a way to leverage that presumed negative into a positive.  It would have been quite easy for them to stop and wait until they had more financial backing to continue, but they weathered the financial ups and downs because of their belief in the project and the result turned out to be amazing.    

Your team will always ask for the latest and greatest tools and while the monies may not come out of your own personal pocket, they will likely come out of a budget assigned to your team or department.  And it will always be important to keep operating costs low, that’s a given. But that doesn’t mean your team can’t tackle the big jobs. It doesn’t mean they can’t shift the paradigm. Both Eduardo and Dan recognized early that the more creative aspects of the movie were the areas where they could have the greatest impact, given the budget restraints. The script was largely improvised by the actors for each scene. They were provided an outline of the scene but left to their own to create the dialogue.

Dean McKinney