SERIES: Movies That Teach

Of all the epics and fantasy novels turned movies, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is arguably the best. The movies capture the intensity of the books before them and bring the characters to life. We all know the Fellowship of the Ring and how momentous the formation of the Fellowship was in the movie - the five peoples of Middle Earth (hobbits, men, elves, dwarves and wizards) coming together for a common purpose.

In this post of the ‘Movies That Teach’ series, we’re going to take a look at four scenes across the three movies where Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Gandalf, Baromir, Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry teach us what true teamwork is all about.

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Gandalf and the Balrog: Just keep swimming

In the first movie, the Fellowship loses its leader halfway through. Gandalf the Grey falls while fighting the evil Balrog, saving the rest of the members of the Fellowship in the process. Despite this setback, the team rallied together and Aragorn stepped up to the plate, making the necessary decisions and looking out for the well-being of the others. A functional team is a team that can carry on without its leader. Every member of the team should have a clear idea of what their role and responsibilities are and how to go about carrying out the tasks given to them. Everyone has a set of strengths and weaknesses when it comes to work skills, and it’s important to keep yours in mind when you work as a part of a team. In the example mentioned above, all members of the Fellowship knew Aragorn had good leadership skills, and so did not hesitate to follow him. If the Fellowship had given up when Gandalf fell, Lord of the Rings wouldn’t have been a trilogy.

Splitting Up The Fellowship: Get your priorities straight

An important crossroads in the Fellowship of the Ring is when Baromir betrays Frodo and tries to take the ring for himself. This leads to Frodo and Sam branching off from the rest of the Fellowship and the other two hobbits getting kidnapped. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas are left with the decision of either going after the kidnapped hobbits or following Frodo and Sam. They assess the situation at hand and the changes that have occurred before coming to a decision on the best possible course of action they ought to take. All teams should have the capability to take a step back when they’re presented with new information or a changing environment in order to re-assess the situation and prioritise their tasks accordingly.

Rohan and Gondor: Network internally and externally

In one of our earlier posts about whether or not to attend events, we talked about the importance of networking. Aragorn’s relationship with Legolas is already well established before the two of them become members of the Fellowship and this comes through in all of the movies in the way they understand each other and work together. In the same way, Frodo and Sam’s bond helped the hobbits weather their solo journey through Middle-Earth. The wars the Fellowship fought at Rohan and Gondor, and the bonds established as a result also drive home the message. It’s because the group kept forming new ties with a variety of people that they were successful in achieving their goal at the end.

Set aside time to socialise with your colleagues at work and establish lasting relationships. You’ll get more exposure to the skills and work of those around you and benefit from a big picture view of the company.

Frodo and Sam’s Journey: Keep the faith

It can be harrowing to try and keep track of everyone’s work when working in a team. Take a page out of Frodo and Sam’s book and trust in your teammates’ ability to get their jobs done and focus on your own tasks. The two of them traverse the landscapes of Middle-Earth alone, keeping their goal in mind, all the while having faith that the other members of the Fellowship were doing their part for the success of their mission.

Trust is an important factor of teamwork, without which there is less innovation, collaboration and productivity. Unless team members learn to trust each other, time might be wasted with everyone protecting themselves and their interests. Though somewhat criticised in recent years, team-building exercises can be a good way to get everyone on the same page before the start of the project.

Teamwork is just one aspect of the numerous lessons you can take away from the Lord of the Rings movie franchise. There are also lessons in leadership, courage and ambition - all of which can be applied to everyday business life. What are a few that you can think of?