01/16/2013 12:48 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Leadership Movie of the Month


The Swedish film Ondskan (Evil) was nominated for Best Foreign Film after it was released in 2003. It's the story of a young man who is physically abused by his stepfather and then -- as is the case with many people who suffer abuse -- transfers that abuse to others. This all changes when he is expelled from his school and, at the boarding school he is sent to by his mother, meets his match when subjected to intense and abusive hazing by the aristocratic upperclassmen.

Andreas Wilson stars in his debut film. I have no other way to describe him then as a Swedish version of James Dean. He has the hallmark characteristic of all great actors: a refusal to over-act.

I am highly recommending Ondskan as a leadership film because it is in truth a reflection on the appropriate use of violence in self-defense. I think it is a good complement to the U.S. film Bully, which focuses on civic and legal action to prevent bullying and the rights of children and youth not to be bullied at school or elsewhere.

There is no question that these rights must be protected. Yet while political and civic groups are lobbying for better protection of our children and youth, if you are being bullied -- and this holds for adults also -- Ondskan will help you consider how to avoid being bullied, and when, if at all, to fight back.

Leadership is about steering your relationships with the people around you toward a common purpose. When someone is invading your physical, emotional or psychological space, you can use your leadership skills to help you set necessary boundaries that enable you to continue, healthily and unhindered, on your path. An important question is whether violence -- or the threat of violence -- is ever morally acceptable when used in self-defense to set these boundaries.

If you believe that the answer to this question is yes, an ancillary question is at what point is violence acceptable when you are being continually subjected to physical abuse by another person? This question -- which hinges on the ability to identify the moment when other forms of communication have been exhausted -- like all important leadership questions, has no easy answer.

Ondskan is worth seeing not only because it's a riveting movie that's impossible to stop watching (don't make the mistake my wife and I made and start it late, thinking you'll only watch part of it -- not going to happen) but also because it will help you meditate on these important questions.

Anthony Silard is the President of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of The Connection: Link Your Deepest Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World