5 Important Lessons Leaders Can Learn From “Legally Blonde”

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After celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, legally blonde is officially an early 2000’s classic, packed with girl boss power, feminism before its time and some extremely funny one-liners hiding behind those pink power suits. So what  are the important lessons that leaders learn from Legally Blonde?

As a coming of age movie that teaches us about the importance of standing up for ourselves, believing in our ability and not letting people bring you down, protagonist Elle Woods has become an icon over the last 20 years that many aspiring leaders can look up to.

From her impeccable growth mindset to her can-do attitude, there’s no surprise that we’re sitting here today writing about why she is the ultimate role model for new leaders on the block. As a character that breaks all stereotypes, thinks out of the box and most importantly uses her knowledge to inspire, not instruct, it’s time for long term leaders to take a seat and start learning the Elle Woods way, for ultimate business success.

Read on to find out why you should not only be taking a leaf out of Elle’s book but following it page to page on your journey to becoming the best leader you can be.

What Important Lessons Can You Learn from Legally Blonde?

1. Develop A Growth Mindset

Elle Woods doesn’t stand down in the face of adversity. Her story starts in the picture-perfect California hills, home to her perfect dream queen lifestyle, with her Harvard Law wannabe boyfriend Warner.

When Elle learns that Warner is dumping her because he is looking for a “Jackie, not a Marilyn” she feels as if her whole world has imploded. However, instead of allowing this loss to discourage her, she chooses to act on her misfortune and strive to not only change his opinion of her but join Harvard Law School too in an attempt to win him back.

This thought process can teach leaders a lot about developing a growth mindset. Developing a growth mindset in the early stages of leadership is vital if you want both yourself and your company to keep growing. Learning to turn losses into opportunities is the key to success. 

When faced with adversity, the best leaders choose not to quit, but to take the loss as a learning experience that can inspire their future success. Learning to love losing will not only mold a future winner but a leader that always strives to do better for both their business and their team.

2. Lose The Labels

Elle Woods was depicted as a walking stereotype. Her long blonde locks, California girl personality and her pretty pink style stood against her from the beginning. As Warner said, he was not looking for “A Marilyn”, but the question is, why not?

Elle may have decided to change her career path in order to get her beloved Warner back, but in doing that she did not change herself. Proving her blonde based California girl stereotypes wrong, she rose up through the ranks of Harvard Law as unequivocally herself, scented paper and all. 

Learning to lose the labels is vital if you want to become a good leader. As demonstrated by Elle Woods herself, sometimes the best achievers are those that are not even considered as contenders. The first step to becoming the ultimate leader is to forget stereotypes and stop unreasonable profiling, and judge purely on attitude and performance instead. That one person you disregarded could be the asset that will change the future of your business. 

3. Get Creative With Your Strategies

Thinking outside of the box was Elle’s key to success and one of the very important lessons. From her creative scented CV to her movie production style Harvard Law admissions video, Elle did not do anything by halves. This thinking out of the box attitude was then taken and applied to her approach to criminal law, making her the movie’s savior as she caught out her witness purely on the state of her perm. 

Elle’s creative thinking style drove her to success as a lawyer and will do the same for you as a leader. Applying new creative techniques to your strategy planning will set you apart from other competitors and feed your business the innovation that it needs. As a leader, it has never been more important to think outside of the box and trust your creative instincts. Those who take risks and prepare for the fall often go further than those who sit back and wait for industry change. Be a pioneer of your trade and watch your business dynamic transform.

4. Use Your Knowledge To Inspire, Not Instruct

One of Elle’s best qualities is her desire to help others in need. Whether it’s her beautician turned friend, Pauline, or her criminal clientele, Elle uses her knowledge to inspire rather than instruct. Take the “Bend and Snap” movement for example. Rather than retaining her talent for herself, she used her platform to teach her friends how to impress the boys using her bend and snap technique.

Leaders can use this analogy to inspire their management skills. Businesses are often more successful in an environment full of potential leaders, rather than a hierarchy of one person with all the knowledge instructing those below them. Using your knowledge to inspire and teach the future generation of managers will not only have them seeing the smart way, but you’ll create a stronger team in doing so.

5. Believe In Yourself

Last but certainly not least, Elle Woods’ key to success was her belief in her ability. At each hurdle, she simply said “no problem” and took the challenge head-on. As said in her movie defining speech:

“It is with passion, courage of conviction and a strong sense of self that we take our next steps into the world, remembering that first impressions are not always correct. You must always have faith in people. And most importantly you should always have faith in yourself”.

This quote defines Elle Woods as a strong, independent leader who had faith in herself to be successful. Whether you’re an aspiring leader or one with 20 years of experience, belief is the first step towards success and the one quality that will drive your journey up to the top.

You might want to see the movie again and identify these important lessons as they unfold.

About the Author

Rebecca Barnatt-Smith is a freelance journalist, specializing in the future of technology, leadership and business. Below are links to some of my previous work:

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