In film and TV, there are a lot more terrible bosses than good ones to look up to. Either they’re played for comedic effect like Michael Scott from The Office (so that we can ultimately laugh at our own bosses), put themselves in awkward this-should-be-a-lawsuit sexual harassment situations like Margaret Tate from The Proposal, or they’re scheming evil capitalists clawing their way to the top like Gordon Gekko from Wall Street. Some like Hart from 9 to 5 manage to be all three.
But there are good managers out there in the world, and there are several examples of media admitting to us that they really exist.
While each of these are all deeply flawed people, these nerds all have something to teach.
Trust & Rule Setting
“In the world of management 2.0 you have to trust all your widgets! I gave the greatest responsibility to weakest link of the guild chain in order to strengthen us as a whole.”
–Vork from The Guild
Vork is the ultimate manager. He is in charge of five moderately insane people with hugely different life situations, and, despite having very little real-life management experience, he manages to keep everybody in line with a list of rules (such as the always-relevant rule #4: no finger pointing). He trusts all of his people to a fault, giving Bladezz the keys to the bank vault because he’s certain that you must “trust all your widgets!” Over the years, the Knights of Good become successful, supportive, and much more than an MMORPG group.
Confidence & Impostor Syndrome
“Hey, nerds! Guess who’s got two thumbs, speaks limited French, and hasn’t cried once today? That’s moi!”
–Liz Lemon from 30 Rock
Believe it or not, managing a hit show is a bit different than selling ovens. Though she’s often criticized for caving to Jack too much (and ultimately often defended), Liz Lemon is the type of boss who will fight for justice and treat her people well despite not trusting her own judgment and suffering from what seems to be near-constant impostor syndrome.
You don’t have to be a cutthroat capitalist – or even a very competent person – to be a manager. She’s no perfect role model (she’s almost constantly undermined), but we can learn a lot from her. There’s a lot to be said for empathy in management and rising above disrespect. Ultimately, the show would be nowhere if Jack’s six-sigma nature went unchecked.
Delegation & Work Ethic
“Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”
-Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation
You don’t really have to care about your job to be a great manager. Swanson is nothing if not the master of delegation – the polar opposite of the show’s main character, Leslie Knope. His lazy libertarian viewpoints makes him want to avoid spending any taxpayer money or really doing anything (making him at times paradoxically ethical). He’s not running around trying to get things done. Swanson, though, knows how to recognize his co-workers’ abilities and help steer them toward new goals, which is the most important thing a manager can do. He whole-assed that thing.
Humility & Respect
“…you’ll just be like everybody else!”
“What’s so wrong with that?”
–Peter Quill from Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 1 and 2
All throughout the second volume, the cohesiveness of the group is threatened because of people’s egos, and at the end of the film Peter Quill literally blows up his ego. In order to grow, get things done, and work as a team, the ego (real or symbolic) needs to be left at the door.
Teamwork & Communication
There are more examples of effective teams than we can count, from Power Rangers to Justice League! Here’s what some of the most effective teams have to teach us: