21 Leadership Lessons And Quotes From Transformers: Age Of Extinction

A Reel Leadership Article

The fourth entry in the Transformers live action movies released Friday. I was stoked for this summer movie release.

There’s a lot to love about Transformers on the big screen. Robots, TRANSFORMING robots(!), Mark Wahlberg (Or as I still refer to him, Marky Mark of the Funky Bunch), and explosions.

For a guy, Transformers has it all. And, lest you think I forgot, I was able to distill leadership lessons from Transformers: Age Of Extinction.

Leadership lessons from Transformers: Age of Extinction

I’ll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but with a movie this epic, it’s kind of hard. Now, lets dig into what leadership lessons you can learn from Transformers: Age Of Extinction.

1. You don’t know what you have: The movie starts off with Cade Yeager, played by Mark Wahlberg, looking for junk he could experiment with. This brought him to a run-down movie theater that was selling their assets.

Within the building, Cade found an old semi truck.

Who was this semi truck? None other than Optimus Prime.

Within your organizations that are superstars you don’t know about. They may be tired or not properly utilized. Look for the hidden assets and build a rock star team.

2. Cade Yeager

Rule? Don’t make it sound so harsh. It’s wisdom.

Communicating wisdom can be construed as something bad if we’re not careful with how we craft our message. Don’t get caught in this leadership trap!

3. Great leaders create loyalty: Optimus Prime was a true leader to the Autobots. Even though he was gone for an extended period of time, his followers quickly began to follow him once he returned.

As young leaders, you should be striving to create a following like Optimus Prime. Through honesty, empathy, and love, you can create a loyal following.

4. Cade Yeager –

What about no?

A leader’s job isn’t about saying yes to everything that comes their way. There will be times you have to be firm and say no. Not every member of your team will like this but saying no is part of leadership.

5. Businesses and partnerships dissolve: Their were a couple of businesses and partnerships you see come and go in the newest Transformers movie.

This is a great reminder that no business will last forever. Neither will partnerships. Whether the business closing is due to a business decision or a death, you’ve got to realize this and move on.

6. Shane Dyson –

Focus! Stop talking!

I think this says it all.

7. Never underestimate others: James Savoy, one of the bad guys, reports back to Harold Attinger, played by Kelsey Grammer, and tells him: “You said he was a nobody!” in reference to Cade Yeager. This was after Cade and his family were able to escape with Optimus Prime.

These two villains greatly underestimated what one man could do.

How often do we do this in leadership? We see someone but don’t give them the credit they deserve? One day, they quit and go on to create something amazing.

It’s all because we underestimate what others have within them. Commit today to look for that special something every person has to offer.

8. Optimus Prime – 

The rules have changed.

9. Give props to the previous generation of leadership: Transformers: Age Of Extinction gave a great throwback to the G1 Transformers with the way Optimus Prime looked when Cade first found him.

Optimus Prime was in the classic semi design. And this received quite a pop from the audience.

How often do you go and give props to the leaders who came before you? Maybe it’s time to show your gratitude to those who have lead you or come before you.

10. Autobot Hound –

I’m all about bad ideas.

We can’t be scared about bad ideas. Why? Because bad ideas aren’t really bad. They’re bad ideas because they haven’t been fleshed out yet. Give time to develop a couple of ideas you considered to be bad. See how you can rework them to something workable.

11. You can’t control everything: Cade struggled as a single father to control his daughter. He was fighting to make her do what he wanted.

Attinger struggled with controlling Galvatron. He couldn’t get Galvatron to take the proper form or take directions from those manning the controls.

Be okay with your team taking action and doing their own thing. As long as it aligns with the goals of the team and they’re seeing results, it might be a good thing.

12. Cade Yeager – 

I’m doing things out of my league

You ever felt that way before? I’m sure you have. Every leader will have to do something that’s out of his league. The good news? You’ll learn and grow from the experience.

13. You have to take action even if you don’t know what’s ahead: Many times throughout Transformers, the characters had to take actions even when they didn’t know what lay ahead. They took action anyways.

Your path won’t always be clear. There will be times when you won’t know what to do next.

To take the next step, you have to take action. Even if it’s wrong. Get going and then correct the course.

14. Cade Yeager – 

Bumblebee, you’re the best!

Be willing to tell others what you think of them. Encourage and lift up your team. You might be the only one speaking into their lives.


15. What you think you control, can actually control you: The creation of Galvatron was actually Megatron manipulating those building the new Transformers. He had a plan and he let others think they were in control. Rather, he was pulling the strings all along.

We can get caught chasing after things that really don’t matter or we can put people in power who then try to wrestle the control away from others. Be aware that there are things out there that will try to control you.


16. Optimus Prime to the Dinobots – 

Stand with us!

Don’t be afraid to give a rally cry and call others to your cause.

17. Our biggest mistake can become our greatest treasure: Cade and his wife had their daughter, Tessa, at a young age. People thought this was a mistake.

However, Cade sees his daughter as his greatest treasure. His pride and joy.

We will make mistakes as we lead. That’s for sure. However, those mistakes may also become our greatest treasure, if we let the mistakes teach us.

18. Autobot Crosshair-

You just want to die for the guy.

I don’t remember which Autobot said this quote but it was one that really stuck with me.

That’s leadership. When you’re able to effectively move others to put their life on the line, you’ve definitely been seen as a leader.

19. There’s treasure in the junk: This message has come across in many different forms during the movie. Whether it was underestimating Cade to Optimus Prime being a beaten up old semi truck.

Not only should we not underestimate others, we’ve got to be willing to see the treasure around us.

20. Optimus Prime – 

Honor, to the end.

21. Push through the hate: The Autobots were hated by the villains of the film. They were also turned in by those that once loved them. Yet they came to the rescue of humanity once again.

Michael Bay has also seen much hate for his movies. People say the movies lack a great story or go on too long or have too many explosions (Really? Can a movie have too many explosions?). But he keeps making movies and people keep seeing them.

You will have haters. You will have people disagree with you. You will have those who want you to go away.

If you’re doing what you love and you’re making a difference, keep pushing forward. Ignore the hate and keep leading.

There were a lot of leadership lessons in Transformers 4. There was also a lot to like in the movie itself.

The giant robots, Transformers, and cast made this Transformers outing a fun movie night. If you’re looking for explosions and giant robots that transform, I think Michael Bay has just the movie for you.

Question: Have you seen the new Transformers movie? If so, what did you think of it? If not, do you plan on seeing the movie soon? Let’s talk about some movies in the comment section below!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Joe – another great Movie lesson post! I’ll probably pass on the Transformers movie (since I have made it a habit to do so since I saw the very first one), but I was happy to read your thoughts here!

    The quote in point #18 is really great. Reminds me of Simon Sinek’s “Leaders Eat Last” – how great individuals inspire safety and support, as far a creating a common mindset of “I did this great act for other because I knew they would have done the same for me.”

    That’s powerful leadership.

    • Thanks Jon. The movie leadership lesson posts are a blast to write. Glad you’re enjoying them.

      From your comment, I’m guessing you weren’t a big fan of the original live-action Transformers movie. What didn’t you like?

      • Let’s just say I loved everything about the original animated series which I grew up with. The live action had very little in common, other than a few of the Transformer’s names.

        I know that sounds way more snobbish that I wish, and I won’t hate on the movies – they are just not for me : )

        • That’s cool Jon. People will find different things that tickle their fancy. I, too, was a little put off by how it strayed from the original cartoon but then I realized it wasn’t meant to be the cartoon and it was for a new generation, much like the Beast Wars series.

  • Carol Peterson

    Loved the post, Joe! Saw the movie and thought it was the best of the series, probably because I could relate more to Matt Damon than I could with Shia LaBeouf. Me, being old and all…

    • Carol, glad you liked the movie and the post. It was definitely in the top of the live action movie versions of Transformers. Where you able to pull out any other leadership lessons from Transformers?

      • Carol Peterson

        You covered them pretty well. How about the business partner who called the authorities? Leaders know who will tell them the truth. Or Lying doesn’t pay off in the end.

        • That’s a good leadership lesson Carol. I thought of hitting on that one but passed. Thanks for bringing it up.

  • Man, another great post here. Love how you are incorporating leadership into these movies! Great job Joe!

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  • You are a movie fan sir 🙂 Is it a good movie?

    • For sure Kimanzi. The wife and I love catching a flick here and there.

      As for is it a good movie, it all depends on what you’re looking for. I really enjoyed it but a friend of mine said it was the worst movie ever. If you’re looking for giant transforming robots, explosions, and a good time, I think it’s a great movie.

      • How was it compared to the other ones?

        • I still think the first Transformers movie was the best, 2 was the worst. This one isn’t as good as the first, a lot better than 2, and I feel better than 3.

  • Airen Borres

    thats what i also noticed from the movie.. Optimus prime really is the epitome of a Great Leader.

    • That’s definitely a sticking point for Optimus Prime. He’s a leader, through and through.

  • I haven’t seen the movie, although I might give it a viewing after reading your thoughts.

    • I took my son to see it last night at a local $5 theater. It really is packed with some wisdom. Thanks for taking notes (I still don’t know how you do it in a theater).

  • Mike Leo

    No 18 – it’s a phrase spoken by Crosshair during the fight of Optimus Prime and Grimlock to subdue the Dinobots.

    • Thanks Mike! I knew one of my readers would remember who said that.

  • Ah!
    You nailed me Joe, right off the bat in #2. I am very passionate about what I do. (LOL, just in case you haven’t noticed.) Sometimes, (okok a lot.) my voice and delivery can be pretty hard to get past and to the wisdom in what I trying to share. It does matter. Because really, if they don’t hear you when you are sharing something ultimately important, vital to the job at hand and possibly even life threatening- what’s the point? This is one I struggle with, within myself, constantly.
    #11 and #12 also rang my own bells as it seems every day I deal with these. People like those here and places like this help me come to terms with my own fears and worries. It helps, more than I can say, to know there are others that battle this too.
    Great-great post, Joe, thank you – you movie-addict you. LOL I can’t wait!! I have mine already pre-ordered!

    • Never, in a million years, would I sense you’re passionate about what you do! (-;

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  • Kels Czr

    When I watched the first movie I absolutely fell in love with Optimus Prime and the strong core values that he lives by and represents. I must say that I though the 4th movie was the best of the series and was much better without Shia LeBeouf’s selfish character. Also I was able to see a lot if myself in the struggling inventor which was Cade Yeager. In addition to that, Michael Bay’s films have captivated me over the years and he is excellent at what he does.

    • Cool Kels. While I don’t think it’s the best of the series (I thought 1 was probably the best), it does come in 2nd for me. And I agree about Shia. His character just didn’t resonate with me.

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    This is AMAZING! Means I love transformers since I first watched them but this post just increased my fan level to the extreme. Transformers movies directed by Michael Bay, are really Earth’s most amazing movie series. Transformers always inspire me but I never thought like that. I am a student of Management and this is going to help me a lot in my studies and in future too. I am going to tell about this to my all close friends, that I found something Amazing on net. #Transformers4Ever

    • Transformers has been a great movie series so far, huh? Glad you’re digging them and enjoyed the post. Also, thanks for sharing the post with your friends.