Leadership Lessons from "Kings Speech" Director Tom Hooper
Matt Charney | MonsterThinking
March 01, 2011
The King’s Speech tells the incredible true story of Prince Albert, known familiarly as ‘Bertie’ but known to history as King George VI (and father of Queen Elizabeth II).
A reluctant leader thrust on the throne after his brother’s abdication, Bertie’s challenges are magnified by a debilitating ‘stammer,’ a speech impediment widely perceived as rendering him unfit to be King.
Now recognized as one of the great monarchs in English history for guiding Britain through the shadows of World War II and the collapse of the Commonwealth, the unlikely ascension of King George offers a profile in leadership whose lessons remain relevant in business today.
Monster sat down with Tom Hooper, the director of The King’s Speech, to discuss the film’s central themes of leadership and communication, and the tectonic impact of technology on both paradigms:
MonsterThinking: Tell us a little about the story behind The King’s Speech. What interested you about this project?
Tom Hooper: In Bertie (Colin Firth), we have a guy who has no expectation of being king thrust into it, right at the moment where radio’s taking off as a mass medium, and he’s expected to speak not only to England, but to the 58 countries in the Commonwealth, which is a huge audience. On top of that, the second world war is approaching, he’s expected to lead the country to war, and, of course, that means being connected to his people, and he can’t speak.
Who’d have thought that the guy who got him through this was this wonderful, iconic Australian, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Logue’s a speech therapist, not a doctor, self-taught, a failed Shakespearean actor originally, who’s a total genius at speech therapy.
This guy, this total outsider, this colonial, this Australian, from a totally different class and different lifestyle, penetrated right to the heart of the royal establishment and saves the King, really, through the friendship they developed.