BBC NEWS “Sir John Mills: A very English actor”

mickyates Leadership Leave a Comment

John Mills was a very English actor, who made his name in a string of patriotic war films.

Sir John won his only Oscar in 1971 for Ryan’s Daughter. He played officers and other ranks with equal aplomb, crossing class barriers with an ease rare for actors of his generation, who were usually typecast as one or the other.

In one of his earliest wartime films, In Which We Serve (made in 1942), he played the cocky Able Seaman Shorty Blake. In one of his finest, Tunes of Glory (made in 1960) he played a neurotic colonel cracking up, as one critic put it, as if from ‘the strain of too many stiff upper lips’.

Why did I post this? Well, because I like so many people admired his skill and professionalism. But, second, because his ability to play the range of leadership roles that he did opens up the question of “leadership as performance”. Leaders are on stage all of the time – although of course unlike actors these leaders are working with their followers towards some specific end state. I am reminded of the work of David Boje here.