07/13/2012 06:29 pm ET | Updated Sep 12, 2012

The Best Summer Movies That Pack a Leadership Punch

With many Washingtonians headed to the movies to cool off from this summer's oppressive heat, I thought I would share some movie recommendations that provide a wide variety of valuable leadership lessons and approaches.

My 10-year-old son, Jack, is an avid movie buff so I've had the opportunity to recently see many of the latest new movies. Not only were these movies entertaining and action-packed, they each also imparted some insightful leadership lessons.

At the top of my list is the recently released The Amazing Spider-Man, which tells the story of high-schooler Peter Parker who has evolving super powers and is exploring the truth behind the death of his parents. While as a federal leader you may not be scaling walls and slinging webs, the movie is a good reminder about the importance of unlocking your many talents and fulfilling your leadership potential.

Next on the list is the summer blockbuster The Avengers, the story of a super hero team featuring Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk and Thor that bands together to save the world from the brink of disaster. This movie is a clear illustration of how to bring the right team together to solve a problem. It is also chock-full of other leadership moments, from speaking truth to power to setting your ego aside for the benefit of the team to doing what's right no matter how long the odds. Plus, in a way, each of the Avengers is a public servant -- particularly Captain America.

Also on my list is the kid-friendly summer hit Brave, which is the animated story of Merida, a Scottish princess who is determined to make her own path in life. After taking my kids to see the movie, I was struck by its main leadership lesson -- that to be a successful leader, often you need to avoid the trap of inertia and have the bravery to see and choose your own future (rather than assuming your career path is on a defined trajectory).

Another recent must-see leadership movie is The Hunger Games, the science fiction film set in the future where the Capitol, the wealthy city in the nation of Panem, televises an annual event called the Hunger Games in which boys and girls are selected from a lottery to fight to the death in an arena until one victor remains. One pair of competitors, facing the most stressful of circumstances, learn the vital lessons of teamwork, ingenuity, inventiveness, overcoming adversity and playing to one's strengths. There is also a lesson in never overlooking an opportunity to find a mentor.

In addition to these, I also recommend The Help and Moneyball from this year's Best Picture list. The Help for its inspired lessons on perseverance, humility, diversity and courage, and Moneyball for its lessons on making and sticking to difficult decisions, thinking differently and hiring the right people.

I also suggest checking out John Clemens and his book on movies and leadership, Movies to Manage By: Lessons in Leadership from Great Films. Some of the top leadership movies that Clemens suggests are: Citizen Kane, Crash, Gandhi, Glory, The Matrix, and Norma Rae.

Of course, no leadership movie list is complete without the classics Miracle and Apollo 13, which are two of my all-time favorites. Federal managers, what are your favorite leadership movies? Add a comment below, or send an email to

This post was originally featured on The Washington Post's website.