Please note: this article contains spoilers.
Marvel just keeps on winning. There was a lot of curiosity when Sony announced that they would be partnering with Marvel to reboot the Spider-Man franchise AGAIN (just a few short year after the Andrew Garfield version crashed and burned). Well, a fresh new Spider-Man just swung into theaters and from early returns it seems to have righted the ship (for now).
The synopsis of the film goes: Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, young Peter Parker returns home to live with his Aunt May. Under the watchful eye of mentor Tony Stark, Parker starts to embrace his newfound identity as Spider-Man. He also tries to return to his normal daily routine -- distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just a friendly neighborhood superhero. Peter must soon put his powers to the test when the evil Vulture emerges to threaten everything that he holds dear.
On one level, Spider-Man is about pushing the limits of one's abilities and talents. But this movie is also very much about choosing your own destiny and deciding between what is flashy and what really matters.
Once superficial desires are sacrificed, true
transformation can be achieved.
With this thought in mind, allow me to present 5 key leadership lessons gleaned from this entertaining adventure.
Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity: Young Peter Parker gets the opportunity of a lifetime, an "audition" with Tony Stark's side of the Avenger's in Captain America: Civil War. Still, it is evident that he understands how to use his newfound powers and puts on an impressive showing versus Earth's Mightiest Heroes. This results in a positive and affirming mentor/mentee relationship between Stark and our young hero that will ultimately change the course of his life. There are circumstances when you have to lead with everything you've got and in these moments lay it all on the line. The important part is knowing when to give it your absolute all and when its okay to dial it down. This knowing comes with time, practice, and crucially, anticipation. To get lucky - learn how to differentiate the truly life altering opportunities from the run of the mill chances, and in the meantime continuously prepare for the moment when you will need to be at your best.
Persistence pays off: There's a great bit in the movie where Peter is constantly texting and calling Happy Hogan (Tony Stark's right hand man) to keep him updated on his super hero happenings (which are rather mundane). Still, it is his constant updating (and pestering) that ensures that when he really needs Stark's attention he gets it. True leaders understand that progress is about grinding every day. There is a Zen quote I like that states, "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water." This quote boils down the essence of success which becomes so elusive to so many "because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like hard work." Peter, with his working class roots, has already learned this lesson at the age of 15, which more than sets him up for a life of significant achievement.
No one achieves excellence alone: Peter believes in his powers and thinks he is ready for prime time, but it takes a partnership with his best friend, Ned, to literally unlock the full potential of his souped up Spider-suit. Ned desires to be "the guy in the chair" who assists the hero in carrying out his missions successfully because two minds are better than one. The sooner you realize as a leader that you are actually the "guy/gal in the chair" for your teams (and not the superhero of the story), the sooner you will discover the power in empowerment. We all fly faster and freer when we know there is someone there to steer and guide us to safety. Your job is to be that safety net for your people to stretch, grow, take risks, and achieve bigger and better things.
Discipline is the difference between what you want now and what you want most: Young Peter Parker has remarkable discipline for a teenager. In almost every critical juncture in the movie where he has to make a choice between something he'd like to have (like the affections of the girl of his dreams or the adulation of his peers) he chooses the path that will lead him to impressing Tony Stark so he can become an Avenger. It is the role of a leader to keep everyone absolutely focused on the wildly important objectives at the expense of lesser objectives. These objectives follow the Pareto Principle and deliver the bulk of value to your business or organization. Peter Parker knows that nothing matters but becoming an Avenger and maximizing his potential - be like Peter.
Trust your capabilities: After Peter goes off on his own and has a major mishap, Tony Stark takes the super suit from him because "he's not ready". This is a pivotal moment in the film because it forces Peter to go back to the basics of his powers and understand that it's not the suit that makes him great, it's his ability to harness his capabilities when they are most needed. Every leader will eventually face a similar circumstance where all the superficial supporting structures are not available and you have to make a call based on gut alone. In these moments, it is critical to trust your experience, skills, and hard-earned capabilities. The answer is often within our grasp if we have the courage to lay it on the line and truly believe. This sort of leadership belief is contagious and is the stuff of Steve Job's "reality distortion field" talent. Peter, in his lowest moment, buried underneath rubble and left for dead, somehow summons the belief and will to survive and (of course) goes on to beat the bad guy.
Overall, Spider-Man: Homecoming was a home-run for the Marvel/Sony alliance. It is now one of my top five favorite Marvel films (5 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 share if you got anything out of it!