We Are Marshall: Individual overcoming Leaders

The movie 'We Are Marshall' is a great story of individual leaders who come together to resurrect a broken team. This is an interesting leadership movie as it starts off with a very dynamic team but after the accident is reduced to individuals who find themselves not in a team but as a group of individuals trying to pick up the pieces of a once great football team. The individual efforts and leadership of the main characters is powerful in its imagery which goes to show that perseverance through difficult circumstances shows brilliant resilience.


The Marshall University football team 'the thundering herd' are on an away match which they end up loosing. On the flight home a travesty occurs which wipes out most of the team and destroys a community with many loved ones dying. The only people to survive are injured team members who didn't fly with the team and one of the coaches who had to drive instead.

Although the community in the town are mourning and hurt the young people of the University rise up to show their compassion for those who have died and want to honour their memory by continuing the season and playing football. An outsider Jack Lengyel volunteers to coach the team and he comes in to a hurting and emotional town to try and help the situation. The new team finds that the truth of the situation is over-powering and there is little hope of being the once winning 'thundering herd'. Despite all these set-backs the team resolves to fight on in honour of those who died. We Are Marshall portrays this story of great loss and tremendous perseverance.

Movie Quotes

Jack Lengyel: When you take that field today, you've got to lay that heart on the line, men. From the souls of your feet, with every ounce of blood you've got in your body, lay it on the line until the final whistle blows. And if you do that, if you do that, we cannot lose. We may be behind on the scoreboard at the end of the game but if you play like that we cannot be defeated. Now we came here today to remember six young men and sixty-nine others who will not be on the field with you today, but they will be watching. You can bet your ass that they'll be gritting their teeth with every snap of that football. You understand me? How you play today, from this moment on is how you will be remembered. This is your opportunity to rise from these ashes and grab glory.

Annie Cantrall: Those were not welcome days. We buried sons, brothers, mothers, fathers, fiancés. Clocks ticked, but time did not pass. The sun rose and the sun set, but the shadows remained. When once there was sound, now there was silence. What once was whole, now was shattered.

Jack Lengyel: When I heard about what had happened, your situation, the only thing I could think about was the four of them. I thought about how much they mean to me, about how bad it would hurt if... well if I was to lose them. Then I thought about a team, and a school, and a town thats gotta be hurtin' real bad. And I thought, hell, maybe I could help.

Jack Lengyel: For those of you who may not know, this is the final resting place for six members of the 1970 Thundering Herd. The plane crash that took their lives was so severe, so absolute, that their bodies were unable to be identified. So they were buried here. Together. Six players. Six teammates. Six Sons of Marshall. This is our past, gentlemen. This is where we have been. This is how we got here. This is who we are. Today, I want to talk about our opponent this afternoon. They're bigger, faster, stronger, more experienced and on paper, they're just better. And they know it too. But I want to tell you something that they don't know. They don't know your heart. I do. I've seen it. You have shown it to me. You have shown this coaching staff, your teammates. You have shown yourselves just exactly who you are in here.

We Are Marshall Leadership Movie Lessons

One of the more discrete but amazing lessons in We Are Marshall is how to come into a team situation as an outsider and how to deal with leadership and people in difficult circumstances. Jack Lengyel deals tremendously with all the hurting people in the community and acts as a 'healer' to the people around him. This is tremendously difficult to say the least in any similar situations you may face.

1. Don't let difficult losses stop you before the end of your story.

It doesn't have to be so dramatic but often teams and leaders have difficult losses which can be crippling and sometimes rightly so they should re-evaluate the situation. But often in minor circumstances you should push through and unite your team, stand by your leaders and pull everything that all of you have together to move forwards. The leaders in We Are Marshall exhibit this leadership characteristic wonderfully.

2. Re-evaluate peoples roles and positions when things change.

We Are Marshall shows that even if you push people to come along on the journey with you as they did before, it wont work if they're in a different season of life now due to a change in circumstances. It's no bad thing to release someone from your team if they no longer fit into what you've created. Be a releaser of people and know what's happening in the lives of the people you lead.

3. Have unbelievable goals but with realistic expectations.

Having great goals to reach is fantastic as it draws vision to somewhere else which is important for team growth but if you tell everyone that this is whats expected now and its impossible then it will give unrealistic expectations. We Are Marshall shows that even though the team wanted to honour the people who had died with 'wins' this wasn't going to be possible for maybe years. Have a vision for the future of what you want to achieve but be honest about how long it will take to get there.

We Are Marshall is an off-beat story with some golden leadership lessons. Click here to return to other fantastic Leadership Movies.

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