The Wizard of Oz

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Finding the Magic Wand Within

Free Guide:

This guide is provided in its entirety for free. You may either read it here on the website, or download the guide to your computer for your personal use. 

Watch and read if:

  • You doubt your own capabilities or credentials for a job.
  • You expect the worst from your subordinates.
  • You have difficulty delegating tasks and authority.
  • You need to build up your personal presence.
  • You suffer from “paralysis by analysis.”

You’ve probably seen The Wizard of Oz a gazillion times. (If you haven’t, what planet are you from?) The American Film Institute rated Oz the sixth-best film ever made. We think it’s also one of the Top 10 leadership training films of all time, a fact recognized years ago by Lou Tice, one of the nation’s top corporate trainers. Tice, a former championship high-school football coach in the state of Washington, built The Pacific Institute by counseling companies and their managers on ways to introduce positive wizards (good mentors) into their lives, while expelling negative wizards (anyone who tries to make you feel bad about yourself or, worse, tells you that you are incapable of success). Tice argued that Dorothy was a great leader because she “took a guy with no brains, one with no heart and one with no courage” and melded them into an effective team that successfully accomplished its mission.

More recently Oz’s lessons were extolled in the business bestseller The Oz Principle by Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman. They base their analysis on L. Frank Baum’s book rather than the movie it inspired. They used the Oz story as a metaphor for issues of accountability, arguing that Dorothy and her team succeeded only after they stopped blaming others for their problems, stopped waiting for someone to wave a magic wand and started taking responsibility for their own destinies. As you’ll soon see, there’s a lot more cake beneath Oz’s icing. In fact, we think there are a dozen great lessons that will serve you well. So read on and learn why Dorothy is, indeed, one of the best managers ever to hit the screen; why the Scarecrow is the best kind of idea person; and, why Glinda the Good is the best kind of CEO a manager could have.

The Wizard of Oz

US (1939): Musical/Fantasy/Dance

101 minutes. Available
on videocassette and laserdisc.

Audience Rating : NR

Cast List

  • Judy Garland: Dorothy
  • Ray Bolger: Hunk/The Scarecrow
  • Bert Lahr: Zeke/The Cowardly Lion
  • Jack Haley: Hickory/The Tin Woodsman
  • Billie Burke: Glinda
  • Margaret Hamilton: Miss Gulch/The Wicked Witch
  • Charley Grapewin: Uncle Henry
  • Clara Blandick: Auntie Em
  • Pat Walsh: Nikko
  • Frank Morgan: Prof. Marvel/The Wizard/Guard/Coachman
  • The Singer Midgets: Munchkins
  • Mitchell Lewis: Monkey Officer
  • Terry the Dog: Toto
  • Produced by Mervyn LeRoy
  • Directed by Victor Fleming (and King Vidor)
  • Written by Noel Langley
  • Based on the novel by L. Frank Baum

A Dozen Great Lessons From The Wizard of Oz

  1. Great Listeners Learn from Poor Communicators
  2. Don’t Be a “Don’t Bother Me” Boss
  3. Become (Like the Professor) a Data-Sufficiency Expert
  4. Be the “I” of the Storm
  5. Be a Scarecrow (and Everything’s a No Brainer!)
  6. Nothing Happens Without a Tin Man
  7. Cowardly Lions Often Lead the Charge
  8. Don’t Forget the Special Effects
  9. Get Past the Gatekeepers
  10. Learn to Mentor Like CEO Glinda
  11. The Wicked Witch Is Always Watching
  12. Expect the Best and You’ll Most Likely Get It

#1: Great Listeners Learn from Poor Communicators

Opening scene: Dorothy’s in a dither. Her nasty neighbor, Miss Gulch, has threatened Dorothy’s dog Toto. Auntie Em and Uncle Henry are too busy to listen. They know Miss Gulch is a chronic complainer; and they dismiss Dorothy and her anxiety as an overreaction, a “little girl problem,” nothing worth spending time on. So Dorothy runs to the farmhands to tell her troubles. But they also are too busy to really listen. Nonetheless, they offer Dorothy words of advice. Hunk advises Dorothy to stay away from Miss Gulch’s house and avoid the possibility of antagonizing her. Zeke argues for confrontation. “Give her a piece of your mind,” he says. “Spit in her eye!” Dorothy views the hands as mentors, and they have just taught her that there might be more than one way to effectively handle a situation.

Dorothy’s still a kid, so we can forgive her for not knowing how to communicate effectively. But Auntie Em, Uncle Henry and the farmhands have been around the block. They should know, as good managers do, that communication is a two-way process; and when the speaker is weak, the listener must be especially strong. When Dorothy comes back in a panic, the adults fit her behavior into a pattern and jump to conclusions. The pattern looks like this: little girl, she’s upset, Miss Gulch (again), nothing new, I’m busy, this can wait. Truth be known, however, Dorothy has important news and the devil is in the details, which nobody asks about: Toto didn’t just “bother” Miss Gulch, he bit her; and Miss Gulch isn’t just complaining, she’s gone to the sheriff, she’s got a warrant, and she’s threatening to go to court! (Remember? When Miss Gulch peddles up to the ranch, she tells Em and Henry that if they don’t turn Toto over, she’ll sue them for damages and take their farm!)

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Free Guide:

Now that you’ve seen how The Wizard of Oz applies to management training, consider ordering one of our other lesson plans on leadership. Our Study Guide for Hoosiers shows another example of excellent, positive leadership and motivational techniques.

The guides for The Bridge On the River Kwai and Moby Dick show what happens when leaders lose sight of their missions–and show you how you can avoid losing sight of yours!

For additional information on these and other films, all of our guides are listed here, with individual topics listed under the main guides navigation.

For an introductory section on how to use the Management Goes to the Movies™ program, click through to Using The MGTTM Training Program.

Copyright 2011, The Oxalis Group. All rights reserved. No part of this guide may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopy, recording or any other information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from The Oxalis Group. For licensing and permissions contact The Oxalis Group, info@oxalismediagroup.com. “The Hollywood MBA” is a registered trademark of The Oxalis Group standing for “Master of Big-Screen Advice” and does not, and is not intended to, denote or imply that any of our author-trainers has received a Master’s degree in Business Administration from an academically accredited institution of higher learning.

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