Katniss Everdeen, heroine of The Hunger Games, has become iconic for her character's selflessness, independence, and staunch persistence in the face of danger. In Mockingjay, Part I, the series' latest release, moviegoers witness a major evolution in her character: She becomes the face of the so-called "Mockingjay" movement, or the revolutionary uprising against the story's fictional tyrannical government.
Though initially reluctant, Katniss embraces her status as a leader--not just within the games, but also for her followers more generally.
Of all the Hunger Games movies, the film is the least plot heavy, and even still, it is the most emotionally resonant, with many takeaways for entrepreneurs, or just about anyone learning to lead in a world full of risks.
While there is, of course, plenty of action--bombings, uprisings, and executions included--much of the film is both subtle and psychological: Katniss has no direct contact with her greatest enemy, President Snow, and very little contact with her friend (and possible lover) Peeta Mellark, at least until the final scenes.
Here are some important lessons for entrepreneurs from Katniss' timeless, fearless and ultimately effective leadership style, as depicted in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1:
1. Great leadership comes from the heart.
In the beginning, Katniss is wary of becoming the movement's leader. Primarily, she's concerned for the safety of Peeta, given what the capital might do to him if she agrees. She ultimately accepts the role, but on her own terms: Her peers must rescue Peeta and the other hostages at the earliest opportunity, and without punishment for having spoken out against the rebel cause.
This unwillingness to sacrifice what (and who) she's passionate about is significant. As a leader, people will ask you to make sacrifices. You'll be forced to recognize what concessions are reasonable (though not ideal), and what concessions you're absolutely unwilling to make. Stick to your guns, when faced with the latter: That is how you'll maintain your company, as well as the respect of your followers.
Similarly, forced leadership is a bitter pill for Katniss. The more rebellion leaders try to make her into a figurehead, the less natural it becomes. In one memorable scene, her mentor Haymitch asks the rebels to recall a time when Katniss moved them. They admit that these were all moments when nobody was telling her what to do. Thus, they agree to let Katniss shoot their propaganda videos by actually going out into the wreckage of bombed districts--i.e., where it's significantly more dangerous--rather than simulating them from their headquarters. This allows Katniss to be genuine in her broadcasts. She inspires the rebel viewers much more effectively, because everything she says comes directly from the heart.
2. Psychology (and perceptiveness) is half the battle.
This film is a deeply psychological one: communication between the rebels and the capital is sparse, and happens almost exclusively via television. Katniss therefore has to be quick to anticipate what her enemies are planning next. As President Snow reminds viewers--staring icily into the screen, from his immaculate palace--it's all about "moves and counter-moves."
When he attempts to bomb the rebels' headquarters, Snow litters the ground with his signature white roses--a message that none but Katniss can recognize as a sign that he intends to murder Peeta. This perceptiveness is one of Katniss's key traits, and which gets her and her peers out of danger throughout the series. Perceptiveness is similarly important for business owners--particularly when it comes to keeping employees (and investors) satisfied.
3. Trust your instincts--and act quickly.
In the mythical world of Panem, and in business generally, things move fast: You, like Katniss, have to be quick to respond to changes, and make snap decisions for your company when necessary. Toward the end of the film, the rebels orchestrate a break-in at the capital, in hopes of rescuing Peeta and the other hostages. When it becomes clear that the capital is about to catch them, Katniss connects herself directly to President Snow on the television, thus buying the rebels time to rescue the hostages and bring them back safely. Similarly, there isn't always time to develop a deeply thought-out business strategy: in those instances, you have to go with your gut.
Aside from being replete with leadership lessons, the Hunger Games movie achieves a far deeper emotional impact on its viewers than ever before. It's certainly one that you won't want to miss, but brace yourself ahead of time for its unprecedented intensity.