This satirical science fiction film has some serious points to make about the kind of lives we lead. Leadership is not about labels or authority, but about influence and, at times, greed, as astronomer professor Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his Ph.D. student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) discover in the star-studded satirical picture Don’t Look Up.
Following the discovery of a comet on a collision course with Earth in six months, Mindy and Dibiasky went to the nation’s highest office to share their findings, where they were eventually received by Madam President Orlean (Meryl Streep). President Orlean, preoccupied by dissent in her party, brushes off the news as they “sit tight and evaluate” the circumstances. But then they alter their minds, hoping to divert attention away from the president’s plummeting poll scores and re-election ambitions by using the event.
What occurs in Don’t Look Up is what transpires when leaders put themselves first instead of the individuals who have put their faith in them. There are, of course, insights that business executives can take away from the film if they look hard enough.
1. Being Selfish is Disgusting
Selfishness on the part of President Orlean is on full display throughout the film, culminating in the death of her son and chief of staff, Jason Orleans (Jonah Hill). Leadership is crucial to an organization’s performance, and a leader who is only interested in themselves might hurt the bottom line. A self-centered company leader is insecure, perceiving any criticism of his or her less-than-noble motivations as an assault on his or her originality and inventiveness.
It’s no surprise that trust, compassion, stability, and hope ranked higher than greed on the list of the most appealing leadership attributes. Satisfied customers lead to more sales, which in turn leads to more earnings and a dedicated workforce. Selfish leaders care more about how others see them than they do about doing what’s right, and they attract followers who won’t or can’t confront them. This allows people to focus solely on their own needs while making judgments.
2. Your Social Network is Important
President Orlean had a staff of yes-men who wouldn’t question her decision if it was partially based on false information. If you want to be an effective leader, you need to collaborate with people you have high regard for and trust. A single wrong judgment made by a member of the inner circle of leadership might bring disgrace and ruin to the entire company.
If you want to show that you’re an unafraid and capable company leader, cultivating and protecting your network of impact is a must. Success-fostering leadership qualities like humility are also displayed here. People are more likely to follow humble leaders. A leader who is willing to surround himself with people who will help them work together and respect one another will do well, and their team will do well even in the face of adversity, as the fictitious White House did.
3. The Corrosive Nature of Greed
Self-interest is the driving force behind destructive greed. One definition of greed offered by Dictionary.com is an “excessive or greedy desire, particularly for riches or stuff.” When President Orleans realised she could have benefited from the comet’s crash, she abruptly changed her mind and called off the trip, demonstrating this point perfectly. When people in an organisation are driven by greed, they stop making decisions based on facts and logic.
The fall of Enron, long a darling of Wall Street, shows the damage that greed might cause to a company and the economy. Politicians and non-political leaders alike must put the welfare of their followers ahead of financial gain. Sooner or later, the company will start to decline, losing consumers and stockholders if the CEO does not cultivate a mutually beneficial environment.
The difficulties of bad leadership are explored in Don’t Look Up, along with lessons that can be applied in a variety of contexts. Whatever the context, all leaders may benefit from being reminded to prioritise the needs of those around them, cultivate a trustworthy inner circle, and prioritise people above profits.
More than merely a satirical depiction of a dystopian future, “Don’t Look Up” is a cautionary tale with important lessons for leaders to learn. The film stresses the value of empathy, the bravery to surround oneself with people who may challenge one’s opinions, and the destructive power of unbridled greed. It’s a strong reminder that leading well isn’t about you; it’s about the people you’re entrusted to look out for.
Leaders in every area need to prioritise the group’s needs over their own, practice humility, and cultivate an atmosphere of trust. Leaders can learn how to promote growth, build trust, and achieve collective success by seeing the examples shown in this film masterpiece. The message of “Don’t Look Up” is to examine ourselves and decide what type of leaders we want to be.