Leadership Lessons Learned from Wonder Woman



Please note: this article contains spoilers.

After the missteps of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad; DC Films needed a boost both in tone and box office. By introducing Princess Diana of Themyscira, DC finally has a sure fire hit on their hands. Now, fans are eagerly awaiting Justice League in the fall of 2017.

The synopsis of the film goes: Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, Diana meets an American pilot Steve Trevor who tells her about the massive conflict that's raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time. Fighting alongside men in a war to end all wars, she finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.

On one level, Wonder Woman is about what it takes to hold tight to an ideal - in this case that man is inherently good versus the truth that inside each of us is a conflict between light and dark influences. But this movie is also very much about discovering your own potential and power despite pressures from all sides to contain yourself.

Only when you lean into your natural abilities and link them with your ideals, principles, and values can you reach your higher purpose.

With this thought in mind, allow me to present 5 key leadership lessons gleaned from this entertaining adventure.

  1. Know when to let go: At the beginning of the film, Diana is eager to explore her fighting abilities but her mother, Queen Hippolyta, forbids it due to fears that Aries the God of War will find and kill her. After begrudgingly agreeing to train her at the insistence of her sister, General Antiope, Hippolyta must come to terms that Diana will never remain among the Amazons. Especially after she meets Captain Steve Trevor and learns that there is a war to end all worlds that must be stopped. Great leaders live by the old axiom that you have to have the Serenity to accept the things you cannot change; the Courage to change the things you can; and the Wisdom to know the difference. Ultimately, the Queen demonstrates great personal courage and releases her precious daughter to find her destiny. We as leaders are faced with such choices everyday and we have to make peace with our decisions - knowing when to be courageous and when to remain serene can go a long way.

  2. Know when to compromise and when never to compromise: Once they arrive in war torn London, Wonder Woman becomes a classic fish out of water tail with a great scene where Diana must dress less conspicuously in order to blend in with society. She compromises some and goes along with this expectation but when it comes to situations where values and principles are needed, she gives no quarter. In a meeting with British Generals, Diana gives the High Command a full piece of her mind as Steve Trevor remains political. As they arrive in France and she experiences her first taste of war, she allows herself to be dragged first past animals in need and then a severely wounded man, but when she learns that an entire town is under siege nearby, she can compromise no more. She leads the allies across the battlefield and ultimately frees Veld from an occupying force. Great leaders know when to stand their ground and when to apply a more flexible mindset, but they never compromise their values. By taking a stand, Diana saves hundreds of lives and also demonstrates her tremendous capabilities. As a leader, make sure you know the difference between situational flexibility and compromising values - and never waver on your core values.

  3. Downtime together builds bonds: Even as powerful as she is, Diana needs a team to fully execute the mission. While first impressions meeting spy Sameer, marksman Charlie, and smuggler Chief are not great - it takes all of them working together to rescue Veld. Afterward, Steve Trevor wants to focus on the list of things he must do to prepare to infiltrate German High Command, but Sameer encourages him to kick back and appreciate their accomplishment that day. While Steve had a previously established bond with these guys, Diana gets to learn more about and value each of them in an informal setting which increases her trust and the overall team bond. Great leaders can sense the mood and stress level of their team and take time out to re-energize and boost morale and bonds. If this doesn't come naturally to you, assign someone on the team (a glue person) who informs you when the team needs downtime and helps schedule these sessions.

  4. Back up certainty with contingencies: From the moment she meets Steve Trevor and learns of the war, Diana is absolutely convinced that Aries is the corrupting force behind the death and destruction. She is ultimately proven right, but her initial assumption that General Erich Ludendorff is Aries is wildly wrong. She is so downtrodden by her mistake that she ultimately loses the love of her life as Steve Trevor continues on to destroy the plane carrying the deadly mustard gas. It's impossible to get all the calls right as a leader, but the best leaders always have a plan A,B, and C for any situation. The more critical the decision, the more great leaders zoom out, examine the full landscape, make assumptions, and create contingencies. By not contemplating the worst case scenarios and having the what if we're wrong conversations, you can suffer defeats that are nearly impossible to come back from. In the movie, Diana has to lose Steve before she can realize her full power, but if they had a better plan they might have gotten out of the situation with everyone intact.

  5. Choose your path: Wonder Woman is the origin story that explains Diana's dedication to saving human kind. Only by experiencing mankind at his worst does she understand our true and full nature. Still, she has to make a choice whether to abandon us or commit to fighting with us and for us. Lucky for us she chooses our side. Great leaders figure out their WHY early in the game and remain committed to this reason for being and thread it into every aspect of their life.The right WHY gets you up in the morning, informs your decision making, influences who you work with and how you work, and can be the difference between sustainable success and failure. Find your WHY and stick with it.

Overall, Wonder Woman was well made with a great blend of action and comedic scenarios (4 out of 5 stars from me).

What other leadership lessons did you glean from the film? Let us know in the comments below. And please give the article a thumbs up if you enjoyed and got anything out of it.

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