I can hardly believe Transformers 5 released this past weekend. Transformers: The Last Knight is Michael Bay’s last outing as the director of the Transformers series.
Over the years, I’ve enjoyed seeing the giant transforming robots brought to the big screen. Even if the Transformers movies strayed from the 80’s cartoon I so fondly remember. Each new movie in the series brought out the little kid within me.
Transformers: The Last Knight did the same thing. I sat awed sitting in the second row staring up at the screen. Watching my favorite Transformers battling it out made my day.
I also some saw important leadership lessons in Transformers: The Last Knight. And I want to share those leadership lessons with you.
Caution: Transformers: The Last Knight spoilers below
Leadership Lessons And Quotes From Transformers: The Last Knight
1. King Arthur:
Without sacrifice, there can be no victory.
Yes, this Transformers: The Last Knight quote comes from THAT King Arthur. The Last Knight brings in the age-old myth of King Arthur and the knights of the round table.
King Arthur tells his men that there will be a sacrifice to obtain victory. There will be losses and casualties. But with those sacrifices, they can obtain victory.
Leadership requires sacrifice to be victorious. You have to give up your desires and wishes and move forward with the desires of the organization you’re leading. You have to put others first. And you have to decide what activities will be cut out of your life so you can be a great leader.
Cautiously monitor your life. Watch what’s coming and choose what sacrifices to make.
Be warned though. You have to make the right sacrifices. Choosing to sacrifice your wife and kids or your personal health will not make you a better leader. Choose the right things to sacrifice.
2. Know how to make the ask:
We soon discover the wizard Merlin is a fraud. He doesn’t know magic and he’s been scamming people with his parlor tricks. Yet he does something right.
He knows there are Transformers hidden nearby. Those Transformers can shift the tide of the battle King Arthur and the Knights are facing. He rides his horse to the Transformers crash site and makes the ask.
Merlin asks one of the Transformers to come to their aid. When he sees his ask didn’t work, he shifts the ask. He makes his request personal.
Instead of talking only about the women and children who will die if the Transformers take no action, he reminds them of their home planet. The death and destruction. The loss of life.
Merlin knew how to ask.
Great leaders are willing to make the ask. More importantly, great leaders know how to make the right kind of ask.
Great leaders know they can’t ask out of their need. Their ask has to provide a reason for action.
For the Transformers, they took action after being reminded of the destruction on their home planet. Find a reason for someone to help you that benefits them.
3. Stories can be crafted anew:
Going into Transformers: The Last Knight, I knew the traditional telling of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The Last Knight changed the story dramatically. King Arthur now takes place with Transformers.
Crazy, I know! Who would have thought someone would recraft the story of King Arthur to include giant robots. Well, Michael Bay did. And it worked.
You have plenty of stories from your life to share. Learn how to craft them in a way you can use them to help lead your teams.
You don’t have to lie. You do have to make your stories relatable to the situation at hand. Do that!
4. Sir Edmund Burton
Without leaders, chaos reigns.
Anthony Hopkins, of Silence of the Lambs fame, plays Sir Edmund Burton. He shares this great line of what happens when there are no leaders.
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This is why you need to step up to lead. Without great leaders, chaos reigns. People struggle with direction. They don’t know the purpose of their work.
As a leader, you help guide and mold people into their best selves. Be a leader that helps stop the chaos.
Someone’s go to take care of them.
Izabella, played by Isabela Moner, tells a group of young boys that someone has to take care of the Transformers in the slum-like area.
She chose to step up. She knew she could be the one to make a difference in the lives of the Transformers left behind. And she was willing to make the sacrifice needed to do so.
Are you willing to take care of the people on your team? They are working hard to make sure your organization reaches their destination. They’re sacrificing time with family, friends, and loved ones to be there with you.
Take care of those people. When you do, they will take care of you.
6. Take control:
The Transformers Resistance Force (TRF from here on out) decimated the area Izabella lived in. They also damaged or destroyed all of the Transformers in the area.
Izabella was trying to save Canopy, a Transformer who had provided shelter for her. That’s when Cade Yaeger (Mark Wahlberg) appeared on the scene. He wanted to help Canopy but knew the Transformer had died.
Because of this, he had to take control of the situation. He told Izabella Canopy was dead. And they needed to move.
When she resisted, he made her move. He kept her going and got away from the danger area.
Sometimes you’re going to have to take control of the situation. You’re going to have to make sure a team member is doing what they’re supposed to. Or maybe you have let someone go.
These are examples of taking control. Be ready to do so when required.
7. Not all days will be good:
Many of us want all of our days to be good. We want to see success after success. You might want to see people growing. Maybe you desire to see your local area change.
But you’re not seeing the progress you’re hoping for. Maybe an initiative failed. Or the city continues in a downward spiral. It could be your favorite employee makes a mistake.
These are the bad days. These are the days you wish you wouldn’t have. But you do.
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Cade had one of those days in Transformers: The Last Knight. He saw the death of multiple Transformers. He was captured by the TRF. His day wasn’t going well.
Be prepared and know not every day will be a great day. Know that the next day may be better.
8. There’s always something new:
A cool new feature of the Transformer Bumblebee is that he could disassemble his body and then reconstitute his original form.
Seeing him get shot by the TRF and break apart was scary. You might have thought Bumblebee was dead. Yet his disassembly was just a new skill he’d learned.
Great leaders are always learning. They seek out new wisdom and new ways of doing things.
9. General Morshower
Oh, what we would all give up to have Prime back right now.
Optimus Prime had left Earth to return to Cybertron. One of the greatest leaders of all time was gone.
Morshower longed for the days of a great leader. As did others.
People want great leaders. They want leaders who care for them. They want leaders who will make the right decisions.
You can be one of those leaders. Be a leader people will miss when you’re gone.
10. Leadership requires concentration:
The Last Knight breaks to a junkyard where the shogun Transformer Drift is balancing on his swords. He’s repeating a mantra and staying upright.
When we see the mini-Strafe, he is flying around Drift. He finally lands on the bottom of Drift’s foot which is in the air. Drift notices and breaks his concentration causing him to fall over.
Leadership is much like Drift’s balancing act. He’s concentrating on what he needs to do. When his concentration is broken, he faces a setback.
You’ve been there, right? Know that you can recover from a concentration break. You can get back up and continue forward.
Don’t let distractions break you. Get back up and get back in the game.
You know humans lose their temper…
Jimmy gets things right with this quote from Transformers: The Last Knight. He knows us humans can lose our tempers. We will snap and be unkind.
Knowing that people will lose their temper with you can make it easier when someone does snap on you. Know it’s part of our nature. Let them vent. Then move on.
12. Know when to stand strong:
Cade had told the young Izabella to go. Izabella refused to leave. Izabella stood strong.
She told Cade the reasons she wouldn’t move. She was going to stay there with him and the Transformers.
[Tweet “Leadership stand strong – Leadership lessons from Transformers: The Last Knight #ReelLeadership”]
Where do you need to stand strong? Are there things in your life you’re budging on that you shouldn’t?
Learn from Izabella. Stand strong, stand firm in the right things.
13. Be ready to move quickly:
Earlier in The Last Knight, Bumblebee had been tagged with a tracker. This led the TRF back to Cade’s hideout.
Cade and his team had to move quickly once they were discovered. They had to leave what they were doing and get out of the danger area.
There wasn’t a lot of time to make decisions. Things had to happen.
You’ll be faced with situations like this in your leadership. You will have to decide to move quickly.
Whether you’re faced with a new social media channel, how to deal with a problem employee, or to adapt to changing social positions, leadership requires fast action.
Train yourself with small tests to teach you the ability to move quickly. You’ll be glad you did when the time comes.
14. Your feelings will lie to you:
Jimmy was shot as the TRF descended upon their hideout. He lay on the ground believing he was dying.
Cade approached him and told him to get up. He wasn’t dying. He’d been shot with a beanbag bullet.
His feelings told him something different. He believed the “bullet” had gone clean through. His feelings lied.
Your feelings will do the same things Jimmy’s did. You’ll feel a certain way and that feeling could turn out to be a lie. You discover later on that the feeling wasn’t true.
Be aware of your feelings. But don’t make decisions based on your feelings. Look at the facts and then make your decisions.
You are more important than you can imagine.
Cade didn’t believe he was important. He thought he was just another piece of the puzzle. One that would be missed.
Cogman knew differently. He knew the important role Cade was about to play in saving two worlds.
[Tweet “You are more important than you can imagine – Leadership lessons from Transformers: The Last Knight”]
You’re important as well. You were put here for a reason. You may not know why, but you were.
Find that reason. Then live your life fulfilling it.
16. Sir Edmund Burton:
You begin to wonder if your life has been wasted.
There will be times when you doubt the work you’ve done. You may feel the work wasn’t good. Or maybe you didn’t do enough.
Even great leaders have doubts. They question everything. And that’s a good thing.
When you begin to wonder whether or not you’ve wasted your life, remind yourself of the good you’ve done.
17. Know what you’ve accomplished:
Cade told Vivian Wembley, played by Laura Haddock, that he was an inventor of lots of great devices. She called his bluff and asked what he created.
He couldn’t specify any specific invention. He stumbled with his words telling her he’d made lots of great things.
There was no proof.
As a leader, you’re doing great things. You’re changing lives and the world.
But can you verbalize what you’ve done? You need to know what you’ve accomplished and be able to put them into words.
18. Know your story:
This may seem similar to the last leadership lesson from Transformers: The Last Knight but this lesson is slightly different. Knowing your story means knowing the things you’ve done, the places you’ve been, who you’ve helped, etc.
We didn’t know Bumblebee’s story. The Last Knight reveals a fuller story to us.
We learn Bumblebee fought in World War 2. He kicked butt during that time.
Now, he’s without his true voice. And he’s never shared his history before.
Your story has power. It truly does.
Everyone has had something in their past that has impacted their lives. Whether it was trauma or a great success, your story will touch upon aspects of another person’s story.
I was talking with my friend Kevin Saturday night about my story. How I’m not sure I have a valuable one.
He encouraged me that I do. That Pam and I’s struggle with infertility is a huge point in my story. How failing my motorcycle riding skills test is another milestone in my story. And how everything that has happened to me matters.
Knowing this helps me to tell my story better. In doing so, my life will resonate with others more strongly. Yours will too once you discover your story.
19. People desire compliments:
Vivian complimented Cade. She told him he looked good (or something along those lines). Then she waited…
She was waiting for Cade to return her compliment and say something nice about her. Cade didn’t.
That’s when Vivian told him she wanted to hear something nice. She was fishing for a compliment to help her feel good.
People are dying for praise. For compliments. They want to be told they’re good, they matter, or they’ve had a positive impact in what they’re doing.
Are you a giver of compliments? Are you helping your team get the praise and compliments they desire?
They long to be told they matter. Find something to compliment about your people and then go say it.
20. Don’t discount ordinary things:
Vivian and Cade were searching for the remains of the magician Merlin. After his death, he was laid to rest in an alien ship. More importantly, he was laid to rest with a magic endowed staff. This staff could save or destroy the world.
All that Cade and Vivian found in his casket were his bones and an old, wooden stick. They believed the stick was junk.
How wrong they were. The staff was the magical staff they were looking for. Yet the staff looked like a piece of wood.
[Tweet “Don’t discount the ordinary – Leadership lessons from Transformers: The Last Knight #ReelLeadership”]
We make snap judgments of people. We see someone plain looking or whose credentials don’t come from an ivy league school.
We’re left believing they’re not valuable. They’re only ordinary.
You’d be wrong. Just like Cade and Vivian were wrong about Merlin’s staff, there are great employees out there who appear plain at first blush.
Don’t write someone off because they don’t seem impressive. Give them the opportunity to blow you away.
21. Cade Yaeger:
Bee’s always had my back. It’s time I had his.
Bumblebee was a faithful friend to Cade. He fought valiantly next to him. He wouldn’t let harm come to Cade.
Because of this, Cade knew he had to step up when Bumblebee was being attacked by Nemesis Prime. He couldn’t let someone who’s been so loyal to him die without trying to help him.
Do you have the backs of the people who have labored with you? They’ve given up much of their lives to work with you.
Be ready to give back to those who have had your back.
22. Optimus Prime:
What have I done?
Optimus Prime realized he made a huge mistake in attacking Earth and the people he loved. He did it out of a misguided notion he could save his home planet of Cybertron by destroying Earth.
He also attacked his friend Bumblebee. His attack almost cost Bumblebee his life.
Optimus Prime failed. He did unimaginable things in a cause that was unjust.
You might find yourself being led astray for the wrong reasons. You might be fed lies that cause you to make bad decisions.
Be careful of the information you take it. It can either help you make right choices or wrong choices.
23. Use layman’s terms:
There was a scientist trying to explain what would happen if Cybertron was able to reach the Earth’s core. He began by using scientific terms. When he saw his words were confusing, he began to speak using simple words.
He told the gathered group that Cybertron would make the Earth into a microwave. Eventually, humans would pop like Jiffy Pop Popcorn.
These words and terms were understandable to the average person in attendance. By using words people could understand, they got the gravity of the situation.
I’ve been involved in the church world for a long time. I’ve also heard a lot of “churchese” tossed around.
The average person wouldn’t understand what was being said. Only those in the inner circle would understand.
This caused confusion and feelings of stupidity among those that didn’t speak churchese.
When you break it down into common language, they would begin to understand. Light bulbs would go off.
Are you using difficult to understand terms when explaining situations at your organization? Try to back off and begin using layman’s terms.
People will begin to catch on see what is really happening.
You’re small and you’re ugly. No one will see you coming.
Izabella was a bit mean when she told her Transformer Sqweeks he was ugly. But there was some truth to what she said.
Because of his unassuming looks and diminutive size, Sqweeks had an advantage. He was able to get in and out without being detected.
Don’t let yourself be discouraged if you feel you’re average or small or even ugly. These can be traits that can be exploited to your advantage.
People will underestimate what you can do. And you can get in there and do the job without them expecting it.
25. Cheer other people on:
When Optimus Prime arrived on Cybertron, Izabella began to cheer him on. She was excited to see him there. She knew he would be able to help save the world.
Her cheers were heard by Optimus. They encouraged him.
Are you cheering people on? You need to be.
People need your encouragement. They need to hear you believe in them.
Let others know you see their potential!
26. Cade Yaeger:
Alright, we’re doing this together.
Vivian needed to retrieve Merlin’s magical staff as she was the only one who could use its power. She was a distant relative of the magician.
Cade wasn’t willing to let her go alone and told her he would go with her. They would retrieve the staff together.
Great leaders go with their team. They march into battle side-by-side with their teams. They won’t let them do something they weren’t willing to do.
Lead with your team.
27. Find your voice:
I wanted to save this leadership lesson from Transformers: The Last Knight until the end because of how important this leadership lesson is.
When Optimus Prime became Nemesis Prime, he’s violent and ready to destroy Earth. He attacks Bumblebee but stops short when Bumblebee discovers his true voice.
Bumblebee speaks just before Nemesis Prime tries to shove a blade through his chest. Hearing Bumblebee’s true voice stops Prime in his tracks. He snaps out of the fog he’d been in and once again becomes Optimus Prime.
There was power in Bumblebee’s true, authentic voice. His voice pierced Nemesis Prime to his core. His voice also awakened the true Optimus Prime.
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When you discover your true voice, people will begin to listen. They will feel a tug at their heart. They will feel a connection with you.
You have a true voice. Sadly, over the years, our true voice often gets covered up and hidden. We don’t even know what we truly sound like.
Dig deep. Find your true voice. Then begin to share your message.