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Leadership Lessons from Bedford Falls

Frank Capra’s classic It’s a Wonderful Life is a holiday staple, beloved around the world. Woven throughout this heartwarming tale are lessons on leadership we can all take to heart.

1. Leaders aren’t thinking of their own comfort, but others’ good. When his father died suddenly, George Bailey abandoned his long-cherished plans to leave Bedford Fall and took over the family business. Bailey skipped his honeymoon and used his own money to keep Building and Loan solvent. It wasn’t even a question that he would—a good leader makes the success of those he is in charge of the top priority. Sacrifice is a leader’s middle name.

2. Perspective is key. Problems can seem insurmountable when you are only looking at what’s in front of you. George Bailey was contemplating catastrophic actions when overwhelmed by the problem facing him. Clarence helped George see the broad view—including all the people in his corner.

3. The way you treat others matters. People don’t forget an act of kindness—and the same is true if you mistreat them. Every time you interact with someone you are building your relationship; it’s up to you if it’s for good or ill. Mr. Potter may have initially held the upper hand, but George Bailey’s competent and compassionate practices made him a lasting success.