In the movie Force Majeure Tomas, Ebba and their two children are holidaying at a French ski resort. During lunch at the outdoor restaurant on the second day they observe what they think is a controlled avalanche. Suddenly it becomes apparent that it might not be controlled and a wall of snow is about to engulf the family. The children scream and Ebba attempts to protect them. Tomas grabs his cellphone and runs for safety leaving them behind.
It’s a false alarm, the wall of snow was fog and the avalanche had stopped clear of the resort. Tomas returns to find his family shaken, and they resume their lunch.
Nothing is said in the immediate aftermath of the incident but it places a dark cloud over the family and their holiday. Eventually Ebba confronts Tomas on why he abandoned his family in the face of such a devastating threat.
Tomas denies Ebba’s version, telling her she is entitled to her perception of events and suggesting that he couldn’t have run anyway, as he was wearing ski boots. A video of the event is produced which shows Tomas doing a runner but he remains unapologetic.
I couldn’t help think that Tomas’ behaviour was probably a “fight or flee” reaction, but leaving the children behind was not something Ebba (or others she engaged about the incident) could really understand.
Much of the movie was spent by me thinking “why don’t you just man up and accept it was a reaction, but wrong?”.
None of us is perfect, and neither is any leader. But we try. When we fail it’s time to man or woman up, acknowledge it, do what is necessary to fix it so everyone can move on.
Ebba and the children couldn’t move on.
Neither could Tomas – that was a big insight for me.
Anything you need to man or woman up on today?
Next blog about a stunning picture of leadership.