I just saw Clint Eastwood's magnificent film, Letters from Iwo Jima, this weekend. Of course, as usual I end up looking at everything through the lense of leadership and project management lessons, which drives my wife crazy.
The film offered numerous contrasting examples of good leadership and poor leadership. The differences weren't hard to spot. Besides strategic intuition, what separated the effective leaders from the rest of the pack (on both the Japanese and American sides) was an undeniable sense of empathy (much like the film's director, Clint Eastwood, did in making the film from the Japanese perspective).
Empathy, a key component of Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence, is an undervalued trait in leadership. Equally important is the wisdom to know what to do with that empathy. In the film, the leaders who showed empathy and restraint were able to make the right decisions, even in the heat of battle. Their moral compass served them well. Ironically, it was empathy that led them to be able to predict the moves of the enemy as well.
Then there were the less effective leaders who blindly followed rules, thought only of themselves, were obsessed with power, and looked at people as objects to be used. Go see the movie. You'll see leadership styles worthy of emulation, and those to avoid. Ultimately, the film is about human decency and indecency.