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Lessons from the Netflix biography of Arnold Schwarzenegger

Muscle is not everything. In fact, to be an effective leader, it doesn’t count for much. That is the key lesson you will take away from looking at Netflix’s documentary, “Arnold”.

Arnie Schwarzenegger built three highly successful careers, whereas most of us struggle to do well in just one. He rose to the top first in body building, then made a switch to become the World’s best known action movie hero and then made another radical move into politics to become twice elected as the Governor of the US state of California.

This didn’t happen by accident. He illustrates two key leadership traits to achieve success not once but three times from a zero standing start.

First, he had a clearly defined vision of where he wanted to be in his chosen field, for example to become a five-time Mr. Universe and an eight-time Olympia winner. This vision was what management specialists call a “stretch goal”, tough, but attainable.

Then he methodically planned the necessary effort to attain his vision, setting measurable targets and timelines to get there. On the way, he learned from the inevitable failures and mistakes he made, for example when he admitted that many of his Republican policies were not serving all citizens equally and he changed them to being more inclusive.

Anyone familiar with key leadership traits will recognize these behaviors as typical of what Human Synergistics® calls the Self-Actualization style and the Achievement style. Used together, they generate very effective results as a leader. They can also be measured and then developed in people who wish to more effectively lead the teams and organizations they are responsible for.

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