In a world where leadership is often associated with boardrooms, suits, and strategies, I recently stumbled upon an unexpected source of inspiration: the Barbie movie. Yes, you read that right. It turns out that beyond the glitter and pink, there are some valuable leadership lessons to be learned.
Confession time: I didn’t just watch the Barbie movie once; I watched it twice. And while some of my friends debated the hype, I found myself locked in an emotional rollercoaster, which at one point left me quietly sobbing during an Oscar-worthy monologue from America Ferrera. Who knew that Barbie could provoke such emotions?
Because beyond the incredible costumes and Lizzo soundtrack, the movie delivered a powerful message about womanhood that really struck a chord with me. It highlighted the trials, triumphs, and transformations women experience every day. Those same themes, I realised, can be twinned with the challenges encountered by women in leadership roles across the world.
You might be wondering, ‘How can a doll be a leadership role model?’ Hear me out. As I watched the story unfold, it became clear that the film’s themes are akin to some of the fundamental leadership skills we cover on our Ivy House programmes. Barbie’s journey offers insights on authenticity, vulnerability, collaboration, inclusivity and empowerment. Let’s explore some of these in a bit more detail:
Barbie struggles with conforming to societal expectations and trying to be someone she’s not. As the story unfolds, she learns that embracing her unique qualities and being authentic brings about greater happiness. She has the courage to be genuine, even if it means standing out or going against the norm.
She also teaches us that vulnerability is a natural and essential part of being human. By embracing the tears, we can build connection, overcome challenges, learn, and grow. It is a pathway to authenticity, deeper relationships, and personal development.
Barbie teams up with friends and allies to take on the ultimate mission. It’s a perfect demonstration of just how important teamwork is in leadership. Good leaders know they’re not alone in their journey and they value the strengths of their team. By encouraging collaboration, leaders can tap into a combined power to achieve remarkable results (and have a whole lot of fun along the way).
Inclusivity and empowerment
We see in the movie that Barbie has a fantastic career with over 200 jobs. This is in stark contrast to the real world, where no woman has yet served as the US president. Barbie’s fictional success highlights the potential of women to lead and shine beyond the screen and into real-world conversations about inclusivity and empowerment.
In summary, we often compartmentalise professional learning, but Barbie serves as a seriously fun reminder that inspiration can emerge from the most unexpected sources. As I left the cinema with Barbie’s Lizzo soundtrack in my head, I couldn’t help but see the valuable leadership wisdom nestled amidst the sparkle.
Leadership isn’t just about power suits and seriousness—it’s about connecting with who we really are, becoming our authentic self, empathising, and truly embracing change. And if the Barbie movie can teach us that, then perhaps it’s time to trade the ties for tiaras and let our leadership journey take a delightful, unexpected turn.