Leadership Lessons From The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

A Reel Leadership Article

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve heard the ravings of the fans of Suzanne Collins fiction series The Hunger Games. Set in a future dystopia, Katniss Everdeen rises to save her sister, Primrose Everdeen, from having to become a tribute in the annual Hunger Games.

Katniss and Peeta’s defiance in The Hunger Games and the Quarter Quell greatly angered The Capitol. Their actions in the first two books and movies set us up for a thrilling third entry in The Hunger Games movie series.

leadership lessons from the Hunger Games: Mockingjay

The story creates a perfect backdrop to glean leadership lessons from. That’s why I was excited to get a chance to partake in viewing The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 recently. It allowed me to see leadership lessons in a new light and share them with you.

I hope you’re ready for more pop-culture leadership lessons. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 was filled with leadership lessons and quotes.

1. Katniss Everdeen:

Start with what you know is true.

Mockingjay starts off with Katniss telling herself over and over again to “start with what you know is true.” You can see she is in distress and is unable to handle the situation she’s found herself in.

She just doesn’t know what’s happening and needs to go back to the true place.

We need to remember this as we’re leading. We need to find what’s true and use that to anchor us and our decisions. Finding a place of truth will keep us firm in our decisions.

2. Learn how to survive: There were 13 districts in Panem. Each district was unique and served it’s purpose. However, the Capitol was ruled by people who only looked out for their own good. District 13 tried to fight back but was “annihilated” by the Capitol’s military forces.

That is until we learned that they had survived.

Their survival depended upon them moving underground and shifting their tactics. They learned they didn’t need to be above ground to live.

Leadership offers us many challenges. Some of those challenges you may think you can’t survive.

The good news is that you can survive. But to survive you’ll have to learn how to adapt and shift. Are you willing to learn to survive?

3. Plutarch Heavensbee:

People don’t always show up how you expect them to.

Plutarch, played by the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, knew Katniss was the right symbol for the rising rebellion. She started it and she could fan the flames.

However, due to the events of the prior movies, she wasn’t in any condition to do so. Through some coaxing, Katniss was able to show up in an unexpected way.

We don’t always know how our team will show up to the game. Like Katniss, our key players may not be the ones we think and we’re surprised when our other members show up in ways that weren’t expected.

4. One action can electrify people:In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Katniss shot her arrow at an electrified force field. This action brought down the force field and allowed District 13’s rebellion to rescue Katniss and other tributes that were in the games.

That one shot also energized the other districts to rise up against the tyranny of the Capitol region.

Just one action… One action caused people to move. To take action. To rebel. There’s power in taking action.

This is why leaders need to be willing to step forward and take charge. They can lead the way by taking the action that will electrify their people. Don’t sit by idly, take action today!

5. Katniss Everdeen:

I never wanted any of this, I never wanted to be in the Games, I just wanted to save my sister and keep Peeta alive.

Katniss didn’t want to fight in The Hunger Games. She didn’t want to be the face of a rebellion. But she did so because it was the right thing.

We don’t always become a leader by choice. Sometimes there’s resentment at being a leader. Sometimes we feel leadership isn’t fair.

This doesn’t mean we step down or step back. If what we’re doing is right and for the right reasons, we’ve got to continue fighting for what’s right.

6. Bad leaders lead through fear: The Capitol never led well. They always led with fear.

The Hunger Games were born to instill fear into the people of the nation. Propaganda films were made to create fear. Public executions of those associated with the Mockingjay symbol ordered by President Snow were broadcast to cement fear into the hearts of people.

Everything the Capitol did was designed to drive home fear to those who saw the message.

People get tired of being led by a fear-mongering leader. The realization that leadership by fear is negative leadership moves them away from organizations rather than to organizations.

If you’re leading by fear, stop it. Stop it now. If you’re not leading by fear, never think fear is a proper motivating force to lead by.

7. President Coin:

We can’t guarantee your safety.


You can never guarantee safety.

Katniss knew you couldn’t lead out of the desire for safety. You’ve got to get into the trenches and take a chance.

Don’t be a leader who leads only for safeties sake.

8. We can’t keep holding onto secrets: Nightmares keep coming to Katniss. She has a hard time sleeping and often wakes up in the middle of the night.

Her sister, Prim, notices this and asks Katniss to open up. Prim knows holding onto our secrets and our pain will hinder us.

Are there secrets you’re not sharing with someone? You don’t have to share your secrets with the world but you should have someone you can talk to in confidence.

9. Katniss Everdeen:

When you love somebody, you don’t leave them behind.

Love doesn’t seem to be a leadership trait but it is. Love is about caring for others and helping them become what they’re meant to be.

If you’re leading a team and you’re leaving people behind, you’re not leading well. Leaders know they must help others along the journey. They’ve got to come alongside others and encourage them to keep going.

Are you leaving people behind? I hope not.

10. The delivery of your message is important: President Coin addressed the citizens of District 13 with a callous manner that left the citizens angry and frustrated. The message could have been delivered in another way.

She could have explained what was happening and why Katniss desired for the other surviving tributes to be free. Rather, Coin was frank and short with her announcement.

The messages we deliver say a lot about us as leaders.

We can be blunt and to the point. This method can cause others to question you or your motives. It can also leave people frustrated.

Or you can be personable and deliver the message in a kind manner. Doing so allows for people to begin to process your message and what it means.

11. Gale Hawthorne:

Everyone has a choice Katniss.

You may feel that you’re backed into a corner on your choices. You may think there’s only one way things will go. You may think there’s no other choice.

But there’s always a choice. We can choose to do what’s right. We can choose to do what’s true. We can choose to do something.

12. Know when it’s the right time to fight: District 13 had been attacked devastatingly by The Capitol. Their above ground city had been devastated.

While underground, this district began to build up a supply of military weapons and jets to fight back against the Capitol. And yet they hadn’t started to fight back with these weapons.

Why? They knew it wasn’t the right time. The Capitol would have absolutely destroyed them. So they waited.

I’m a firm believer that leaders need to be fighters. But we need to know when to pick a fight.

Don’t fight only because you have the means. Fight when it’s the right time and place.

13. Your presence may be all that’s required: Traveling to District 8, Katniss arrives and visits a hospital. As she’s walking through the hospital, people begin to ask her questions and perk up.

Her presence brought hope to the hurt people.

Are you trying to lead only by action? Sometimes it’s your presence that’s required. Just be there for people.

14. Find an anthem: During one of the propos videos District 13 recorded, Katniss sang the following song titled The Hanging Tree

The song is haunting. And paired with the video really rallied the rebels together. You see rebels in other districts singing the song as they attack the Capitol forces.

Much like Katniss’ three fingered salute, The Hanging Tree became a rallying cry for those fighting.

Have you created something your team can rally behind? Is there a quote or a song that can remind your team of what they’re fighting for?

15. Secrets will bring you down: Finnick was one of the surviving tributes. He’d been through hell and back thanks to President Snow and the Capitol.

He had been pimped out to those wanting to be with him.

While the acts he had to do with various people were despicable, people began to spill the beans about the hidden secrets of others. This included secrets about President Snow.

And Finnick began to share those secrets in a televised segment. He shared all the dirty details (thankfully they didn’t actually air all of the details to us, the viewing audience) of what he’d heard.

These secrets turned the tide of the fight more towards the rebels.

We all have done stupid things. We’ll all continue to do things we shouldn’t.

Yet we’ve got to be careful of what we do in private. These secrets can come back to haunt you.

Realize people are watching and try to live the best life you can.

There you have it. Leadership lessons and quotes from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. They really packed the lessons into this movie, didn’t they?

Question: Have you seen The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 yet? If so, what’d you think? If not, are you planning on seeing the movie? Let’s talk about what we saw in Mockingjay in the comments section below.

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