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Leadership According to Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood: Modern-Day John Wayne, an icon in American cinema, Dirty Harry himself. Clint Eastwood: Pragmatic leader? Yes, it’s true the man who made his bones as the king of the Spaghetti Western in the 1960s has evolved into one of the most celebrated auteurs of our time.  Although a film director must answer to a producer and, quite often the studio, once the cast and crew begin shooting, the director becomes CEO of the film set.

 A new book by Michael Henry Wilson, Eastwood on Eastwood, presents a series of conversations between Eastwood and Wilson over a period of 30 years. Unlike other books on Eastwood, Wilson doesn’t concern himself with Eastwood’s private life or political beliefs, but rather his work as actor and director. Eastwood’s onset demeanor is far from the archetypical temperamental, perfectionist, dictatorial tortured genius, but rather that of an efficient and pragmatic leader, who operates based on knowledge of what he knows of the medium and instinct.  

As Wilson says of Eastwood in relation to noted perfectionist, Martin Scorsese, “Marty uses every fiber of his soul… Clint is much more detached.” In other words, Eastwood remains cool, calm and collected in the high pressure, high stress atmosphere of a film shoot. He is able to channel his inner-Dirty Harry as it were. Eastwood is famous for doing as few takes as possible.  He hires a competent, highly-skilled crew and trusts that those who he hires are capable of executing in the jobs they were hired to do. Here are the top Clint Eastwood Leadership quotes. Hopefully, one or two of these will help “make your day.”

-“A good man always knows his limitations.” –Quote from the film, Magnum Force, 1973

-“I don’t believe in pessimism. If something doesn’t come up the way you want, forge ahead. If you think it’s going to rain, it will.”

-“After directing awhile, you get an instinct about it, but you have to be able to trust your own feelings. Invariably, two-thirds of the way through a film, you say, ‘Jeezus, is this a pile of crap! What did I ever see in it in the first place?’ You have to shut off your brain and forge ahead, because by that time you’re getting so brainwashed. Once I commit myself to a film I commit myself to that ending, whatever the motivations and conclusions are.”

-“As we grow old, we must discipline ourselves to continue expanding, broadening, learning, keeping our minds active and open.”

-“…I like to direct the same way that I like to be directed.”

-“Most people like the magic of having it take a long time and be difficult . . . but I like to move along, I like to keep the actors feeling like they`re going somewhere, I like the feeling of coming home after every day and feeling like you`ve done something and you`ve progressed somewhere. And to go in and do one shot after lunch and another one maybe at six o`clock and then go home is not my idea of something to do.”