The voters have spoken and they’ve chosen M, James Bond’s boss–as played by Judi Dench–as the best fictional leader ever.
In honor of our New Rules of Work week, we assembled a list of leaders from film and TV (grouped into four categories–business, crime, fantasy and politics/public sector) and asked you to select the best of the best—the boss whose wisdom transcends industry and, well, reality, and guides your office M.O. (read more about the bracket here).
As the rounds progressed, it became clear that voters were responding to the baller bosses, to the tough over the “nice.” And there were few tougher bosses then Dench’s flinty M.
M became a higher profile boss to Bond over the seven films in which Dench appeared (Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale, Quantum Of Solace, and Skyfall, in which she is killed). As the first woman to head up the MI6 organization, she put a more modern face on the spy game, though she was anything but a soft touch.
In one of her first scenes with Bond, then played by a smug Pierce Brosnan, she tackles the tension between her and the macho agent head on (over a drink, of course–her drink: “I prefer bourbon,” she says when Bond requests a cognac). After calling him a dinosaur and relic of the cold war, she tells Bond to get over his personal vendetta against the bad guys. “I’ve no compunction about sending you to your death,” she says. “But I won’t do it on a whim.”
M was a boss to be respected, even feared (she survived a kidnapping by her own wits and an assassination attempt), but one who would take heat for her agents when necessary.
Maybe her bracket victory boils down to this (and maybe this is the lesson of having a female boss win): M’s tough talk and shows of force were never about her ego. They were about doing whatever it took to get the job done, and to ensure the cause won.
In the petty, political real world of work, we clearly long for a boss who stands above it all, as someone whose decisions are driven by a clear purpose. If our bosses are ultimately going to send us to our doom, it should at least be for the greater good.
Thanks for voting and let us know what future brackets you’d like to see in the comments.