Leadership and Groundhog Day

  |   Leadership Print Friendly and PDF

When the movie “Groundhog Day” came out in 1993, most critics thought it was okay. Roger Ebert gave it three stars.

Years later, Ebert put the movie in his “great movies” group. He acknowledged that he’d been wrong at first. He said that “Groundhog Day” was one of those movies you should see over and over to really appreciate. Leadership is a lot like that.

We like to put leadership on a pedestal. We like to think of it as grand, heroic acts. Most of the time, though, most of us who lead do it day-by-day and over and over again.

Share the Vision Every Day

Leaders help people move together toward a common, better future. You may see what that future is like and how it will happen, but you must tell everybody else. Telling them once won’t do it. You must tell them over and over and over again. You must share the vision every day.

Increase Team Members’ Autonomy Every Day

Your team members will be better workers, better people, and part of a better team if they have as much control over their work life as possible. They can be a little different, and a little better, every day. Encourage them to take control. Resist the urge to hold them back. They’re more capable than you think. Increase team members’ autonomy every day.

Make the Team Better Every Day

Leadership would be a lot easier if it was just about people. Then you could take them one person at a time. But leadership is about teams, and making the team better, too. That’s part of your job every day. You must take the lead to create a safe environment where people can work together. You must confront toxic behavior.

Work on your relationship with each team member, too. Praise the praiseworthy. Say, “Thank you” a lot. Do it every day, more than once.

Help Competence Grow Every Day

People love to learn and improve. They love to master their work and to be known for doing good work. Every day, it’s your job to make sure they have the training and resources they need. Every day, it’s your job to coach them up. This is not about sudden, giant leaps in competence. It’s about getting a little better every day.

A Little Progress Every Day

A little progress makes wonderful things happen. When your team member makes a little progress, the whole day seems better. When you make a little progress every day magical results happen. Small bits of regular progress are like the compound interest of development. Steady progress doesn’t appear magical until the day you realize how far you’ve come. Your job is to help team members make a little progress every day.

Back to The Movie

If “Groundhog Day” was just about reliving the same day over and over, it might be interesting, but it would hardly be a great movie. What makes “Groundhog Day” a great movie is that Phil, Bill Murray’s character, keeps learning.

First, he learned how to use his behavior to manipulate things. Eventually, he learns to use what he does to make things better.

He creates a perfect day for Rita and him. They’re walking in the snow when she comments.

Rita: “It’s the perfect day. You couldn’t plan a day like this.”

Phil replies: “Well, you can. It just takes an awful lot of work.”

Yep, that’s leadership.


Become A Better Boss One Tip at A Time

The Progress Principle

Join The Conversation

What People Are Saying