Humour is a powerful weapon in learning and you can find plenty of it in Chicken Run, the brilliant animated pastiche of World War II escape movies.
Our heroine is Ginger, the plucky hen who leads her fellow inmates of Tweedy’s Chicken Farm in an audacious mass breakout to secure their freedom. This is no ordinary chicken – dig deep and you’ll find some unexpected leadership lessons.
Paint a picture
Like all inspiring visions, Ginger’s paints a picture of a better future for them all – one they can all buy into. “There’s a better place out there, somewhere beyond that hill” she tells them.
When her colleagues weary of repeated escape attempts, she reminds them what they’re striving for and remains steadfast in the face of resistance. “Face it, there’s a one in a million chance of escaping this place” retorts her chief protagonist. “Then there’s still a chance,” replies Ginger.
Confident that her vision is worth fighting for, Ginger is single-minded in her efforts to make it happen.
The opening montage shows her repeated attempt escapes consistently punished, but nothing will stop her determination to succeed – no matter how many times she fails. Each failure brings her one step closer to succeeding.
Organise your resources
When Ginger hatches the final master plan, she skillfully organises her resources to achieve it. She appoints leads for each task (design, manufacturing) and recruits the scavenging rats Nick and Fetcher to acquire the other materials she needs.
Having given away responsibility for each area, Ginger manages by walking the job. She continually encourages and recognises her team’s efforts, while cajoling them to higher levels of output as their deadline approaches.
When Mr Tweedy catches the chickens red-handed, Ginger makes a snap decision on what to do. “Attack!” she yells, and the chickens quickly overpower the bewildered farmer.
Having seized the moment, she recognises they need to accelerate their plans to succeed, and dismisses concerns that they’re not ready. “We’ll either die free chickens, or die trying” she announces.
“Are those the only choices?” asks the timid Babs.
With their escape flight ready to depart, disaster strikes when ex-Air Force bird Fowler refuses to pilot their ‘crate’. Ginger quickly brings him round. “You’re always talking about back in your day”, she tells him. “Well, today is your day.” She hands him his Air Force badge – and Fowler is back on board.