The 'Monty Python' Guide To Being A Better Boss

recognisable quotes sometimes create instant understanding. Most of us use them, at least occasionally.  If, for example, you sometimes channel your inner King Leonidas to rally your business troops, give “This… is… Sparta!” a rest and try something different.  Turn to the Pythons for inspiration.

(By the way: I’ve seen call-response interludes at different meetings — like spelling the company name, or shouting a “catchy” slogan like “Get things done — have fun!” — but watching 100 people yell the Spartan war cry tops them all for, um, weirdness.)

(Also by the way: Try to name more quotable movies than “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “Life of Brian.”  “This is Spinal Tap,” “Major League,” “Caddyshack,” and “Animal House” come to mind, but not many others.)

Here are six quotes you can use from “Holy Grail.”  Keep in mind if you watch the clips, not all are safe for work:

“It’s just a flesh wound.” The Black Knight is the quintessential optimist.  When orders ship late, production lines go down, customer complaints skyrocket, or cash flow is down to a trickle, don’t let your employees see you sweat.  If you lose hope, how will your employee stay positive and focused? (Skip to the 2:05 mark if you must.)

“Help, help, I’m being repressed!” Admit it:  Even if you don’t like Holy Grail, the constitutional peasants are funny.  Feel free to trot this one out when employees complain they should be allowed to text at work, or take more breaks or personal phone calls, or… you get the drift.  (Actual line is around 2:30.)

“It’s not a question of where he grips it! It’s a simple question of weight ratios! A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut.” Perfect for anyone who hides behind technology to justify problems, delays, or additional expense.  Sometimes a coconut is just a coconut. (1:25.)

“One day, lad, all this will be yours.”  “What, the curtains?” Herbert doesn’t want the castle; he wants to sing (albeit badly.)  You may not want to run the family business.  Your parents might be disappointed if that’s the case, but better to be honest than to give less than your best. (Sorry I couldn’t find a shorter clip; skip ahead to 3:40.)

“If she weighs the same as a duck, she’s made of wood.”  “And therefore…?”  “A witch!” To all the continuous improvement specialists and Six Sigma black belts (oops, full disclosure, I have one) who draw incredible conclusions from amazing feats of data analysis… and then step back to let others do the implementation dirty work. (2:40.)

“I’m getting better…” Running any business is tough, but keeping a successful business successful can be incredibly difficult.  Don’t give up in the face of setbacks, and don’t listen to naysayers.  You still may fail, but try to fail without regrets and on your own terms. (1:05.)

I know there are more — if you have favourites, feel free to share!

Update: In the comments, name the movie (any movie, not just a Python movie) you feel is most “business quotable.”  Down the road I’ll create a post using the one that gets the most mentions…

This post originally appeared at BNET.

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