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Leadership Lessons from Incredibles 2



Please note: this article contains spoilers.

Fourteen years ago, before Iron Man and the Marvel Cinematic Universe existed, Disney and Pixar launched their own superhero/super family team up movie, The Incredibles. Packed with tons of heart, signature wit, and a very enjoyable story - The Incredibles enjoyed significant box office success. In 2018, the family of supers returns for a brand new adventure.

The synopsis of the film goes: Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back in “Incredibles 2” – but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life. It’s a tough transition for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack’s emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again—which is easier said than done, even when they’re all Incredible.

This movie is easily as enjoyable as its predecessor and deepens our appreciation of each character's journey. As a family of super heroes in a world that doesn't appreciate their unique contributions, they are forced now more than ever to embrace themselves and stand together to stick to their principles and live their truth. I especially appreciated the interplay of the Parr's strong marriage and partnership in the film where this time it's Elastigirl's time to shine.

Strong relationships (and powerful partnerships) are rarely 50/50 - they are more 90/10 and it's essential to know when your partner needs your 90 and when you need theirs.

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

  1. Join forces: With the film picking up fast on the heels of where the first Incredibles ended in 2004, we find our family of heroes vilified for trying to save the city from The Underminer (who literally robs a bank by tunneling under it). Underappreciated and out of work with poor prospects ahead, things begin to look up when Bob, Helen, and Lucius Best (Frozone) are contacted by Winston Deavor, a huge superhero fan and the billionaire owner of DEVTECH, a telecommunications corporation. Winston and his sister Evelyn, the genius inventor behind DEVTECH technology, propose to put Elastigirl front and center in a campaign to regain the public's support and trust in Supers. After Elastigirl saves a key ambassador public will for supers increases exponentially. Later in the film, all the supers must combine their forces to stop The Screen Slaver from triumphing. Leadership Lesson: Needed change doesn't always come as a result of sheer force of will and effort. Often times it requires a communications strategy and an alliance of colleagues working together to move the needle. Leaders who myopically focus on driving toward an outcome without gaining support from all key stakeholders often fall short of their objectives.

  2. Protect home base: Although conflicted about the opportunity to work with the Deavors, Helen is reassured by Bob's willingness to support her ambitions. And Bob really dives into the assignment, learning more about each child's proclivities and challenges along the way. Helen is enabled to shine and do what she does best without needing to be overly concerned about what is happening on the home front. Leadership Lesson: We sometimes forget that each of us is human and requires real support and a solid foundation to truly do our best every day. As a leader it is essential to ensure that the personal and home life is settled and stable so that we can leverage our energy and focus on inspiring greater heights of performance in our organizations.

  3. Recharge your batteries: Bob definitely struggles in his new role as home maker and just before hitting bottom reaches out to family friend and superhero outfit designer extraordinaire Edna to take baby Jack-Jack off his hands for a night so he can get some much needed shut eye. Leadership Lesson: There is a ton of pressure to perform and deliver as a leader but you will only increase this if you are unable to recharge and reevaluate when you really need it. The key here is to know your stress triggers and listen to the feedback of those in your remit. If people are commenting on a negative change in attitude or posture from you, perhaps its time to schedule some down time and come back re energized, refreshed, and ready to positively impact the organization.

  4. Admit mistakes: While trying to navigate his new role, Bob makes a host of mistakes. Most notably with daughter Violet and a potential romantic interest of hers. Finally, he owns up to his poor decision making which immediately repairs the bond with his daughter. Leadership Lesson: Decision making is not an exact science and most decisions and plans do not end up with the desired outcome. It's important as the leader to admit your failings when you have misinterpreted information or made an incorrect judgement call. By coming clean you demonstrate to your teams that you are not perfect, that learning from mistakes is vital, and that it is okay to try, fail, learn and improve.

  5. It takes a team: To ultimately triumph over evil in this movie, it takes each Supers' unique skill sets combined to save the city from certain ruin. Elastigirl and Voyd work together to take down Evelyn Deavor. Frozone and Mr. Incredible combine to move the speeding boat from crashing into the city. Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack remove the hypnosis glasses from the other supers to remove additional threats. Unlike Avengers: Infinity War; The Incredibles, Frozone, and their new allies are able to work effectively together when they need it most to get the job done. No one tries to do it all on their own and this is the primary reason they are ultimately successful. Leadership Lesson: Individual "A" level talent is crucial to success but an optimized team is more effective at achieving outcomes than any single individual contributor. It's the leader's job to tap into each person's unique capabilities, skill, and knowledge, and aim these at overcoming obstacles and achieving goals.

Overall, Incredibles 2 more than made up for the extended wait and upped the ante again for what is possible in the animated visual medium and I truly hope there will be another outing for the family in the future (4 out of 5 stars).

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 and share with your network if you enjoyed and got anything out of it.

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