Michael Kasdan believes that good leadership is a super power. And so he looks to his mentors—the super heroes—for advice.
Because good leadership is a super power, I bring you lessons in leadership, gleaned from our finest super heroes (and super villains). From Batman to Tony Stark to Lex Luthor, and more. Tights and a cape do not a leader make, but these pearls of wisdom just may. . .
(1) Use your power and influence wisely; it is easy to misuse.
When an individual acquires great power, the use or misuse of that power is everything. Will it be used for the greater good? Or will it be used for personal or for destructive ends?
– Professor Charles Xavier (X-Men)
(2) Play the long game – eyes always on the big picture.
“You’re not seeing the big picture here, Ms. Lane.”
– Lex Luthor (Superman)
(3) Inspire and capture the imagination. That’s more important than getting caught up in technicalities.
[Reading the newspaper]
“Iron Man. That’s kind of catchy. It’s got a nice ring to it. I mean it’s not technically accurate. The suit’s a gold titanium alloy, but it’s kind of provocative, the imagery anyway.”
– Tony Stark/Iron Man (Iron Man)
(4) Take on problems, head on. Be simple, and be direct. And value yourself and what you bring to the table.
The Chechen: What do you propose?
The Joker: It’s simple. We kill the Batman.
[Laughter from the mobsters and criminals]
Salvatore Maroni: If it’s so simple, why haven’t you done it already?
The Joker: If you’re good at something, never do it for free.
The Chechen: How much you want?
The Joker: Uh… Half.
(5) You can never sit on your laurels; you are only as good as your last success or failure.
“No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid; I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for… for ten minutes!”
– Mr. Incredible (The Incredibles)
(6) Let the pieces fall into place as you planned them. Don’t lose your patience and give away too much too soon.
“I’m not a comic book villain. Do you seriously think I would explain my masterstroke to you if there were even the slightest possibility you could affect the outcome? I triggered it 35 minutes ago.”
– Adrian Veidt (The Watchmen)
(7) Know thyself, and be true to who you are and your own leadership style.
“You can take away my suits, you can take away my home, but there’s one thing you can never take away from me: I am Iron Man.”
– Tony Stark/Iron Man (Iron Man)
(8) Always understand the nature of the people you are dealing with, on your own team and across the table; because try as you may, you likely can’t change a person’s basic character.
“Some people by nature are kind and charitable. You could say that some people, including at least one person at this table, are by their nature heroes. Ben always reminded me that we each contain all the nobler and meaner aspects of humanity, but some get a bigger dose than others of one thing or another.
Some are petty, and mean, and uncharitable. That’s their nature. You can hope for better, even try to lead them to be and you may even succeed. But when they behave badly, it’s right to be upset by it, or hurt by it, but you can be no more offended by it than you can when a lion bites you.”
– Aunt Mae (Spiderman)
(9) Be cool, and recognize when you hold the leverage. Even when it doesn’t feel that way.
When Wayne Enterprises accountant, Coleman Reese, informs Lucius Fox (played by Morgan Freeman) that he believes he’s discovered Batman’s secret identity, it feels like its all slipping away. But Mr. Fox keeps smiling, keeps his cool, and maintains control.
“Let me get this straight. You think that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands; and your plan, is to *blackmail* this person?
[Pause, while Reese gives a nervous look].
– Lucius Fox (Batman)
(10) Great leadership requires the perfect blend of detailed planning and bold action. All one or the other just doesn’t work.
Reed Richards: You need to control yourself, and think before you act.
Johnny Storm: Yeah, but you see, that’s your problem; you always think, you never act! What if we got these powers for a reason? What if it’s like some higher calling?
– The Fantastic Four
Image by: Flickr/ jiformales