Leadership Lessons of Animal House – Bluto’s Inspiration Speech

Bluto (John Belushi) delivers a priceless inspirational speech to his fellow Delta brothers!

via Animal House – Bluto’s Inspiration Speech.

How about a humorous take on leadership? Before you continue, I will caveat this entry with a recognition that Bluto is an extremely dramatic and unconventional demonstration of leadership. With this in mind, and hopefully a smile on your face, I submit the following for your consideration…

When is the last time you stepped away from the topic of leadership and looked for a non-traditional model, or micro-example of leadership? I am sure that many, probably most would disagree with Bluto as a role-model for leadership, but in the spirit of change, I propose that Bluto was a change agent.

When faced with expulsion from “college”, and a “beat down” team of Delta brothers, Bluto pours in more passion to change their fate, and along the way he recruits Otter and the rest to face their arch-enemy and re-shape the future for their fraternity. Can you see the parallel for you in your role as a leader?

Recognizing that this is a stretch for exemplary leadership, and that this case is frought with holes, give yourself the opportunity to argue in support of Bluto and the Delta team as a group of change agents. They make a good case.

  • Have you, your project, or your company faced “the end of the road”?
  • Have you been told by those in charge that your future has been eliminated?
  • How many Niedermeyer’s are in your organization?
  • How often does an unconventional leader get misunderstood?
  • Have you witnessed someone’s attempt to rally a team, only to fail? How did they react? Were they as determined as Bluto?
  • Have you ever felt like one of the Delta brothers, incredulous about your future as a team?
  • Have you witnessed a leader (e.g. Otter), go to battle for your team only to be battered and bruised for arguably the right principles?
  • What did YOU do to get behind the inspirational (and politically incorrect) leader? Did you doubt them, or did you take up the case for change in spite of significant authoritative (e.g. Wermer) or powerful (e.g. Dougie or Greggie) obstacles?
  • Have you ever felt as exhilirated as Bluto probably felt as he screams “Let’s DO IT!” Can you imagine how that would that feel within your context of change?

You get the point. Love or hate Animal House, John Belushi, or the concepts of college Fraternities, you can abstract lessons of leadership from this clip, adapt the techniques to your own situation, and re-approach a potentially desperate situation. Most importantly, I hope you can do this with a smile on your face and the memory of Bluto’s irreverent historical quotes in the back of your mind. Hopefully, at least this entry put a smile on your face.

2 thoughts on “Leadership Lessons of Animal House – Bluto’s Inspiration Speech

  1. Great post Joe. I love things that make me think and laugh at the same time. He certainly was an “agent of change.” Who wouldn’t be inspired being reminded of the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor!

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