Leadership Lessons And Quotes From Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation

A Reel Leadership Article

Dun dun dada. Dun dun dada. Dun dun dada. Dun dun dada. Dun dun dada. Dun dun dada doo de doo doo de doo doo de doo doo do.

Almost instantly when you hear the Dun dun dada of the Mission Impossible theme song, you know what’s coming…

Action. Intrigue. Thrills.

Mission: Impossible Rogue nation leadership lessons and quotes

Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation released this past weekend. Starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, and more, the movie looked promising.

The big name actors in MI:5 tend to deliver. And, once again, they did.

The new Mission Impossible movie delivered in every way possible, including leadership lessons.

WARNING: Mission Impossible 5 spoilers ahead

Leadership Lessons From Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation

1. Record Shop Girl/IMF Agent

I’ve heard the stories. They can’t all be true.

Ethan Hunt, played once again by Tom Cruise, enters into a record store where he’s to receive his next mission. He approaches a young, blonde girl who’s manning the cash register.

Hunt tells the girl the secret pass phrase and she passes him a record. After, their exchange, she says the above quote.

The record shop girl can’t believe she’s meeting the infamous Ethan Hunt and wonders how the stories can be true.

Now, whether or not all the stories about Ethan Hunt are true, there will be stories told about you. Some of those stories will be true, others will be false.

In leadership, people will talk about you. They will pass stories between one another.

Lead so that when people hear false stories about you, they will know what the truth is.

2. Make your message clear – In every Mission Impossible movie, the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) receive a recording with their mission. Once the recording finishes, the message self-destructs.

The message given by their handlers has to be clear. There’s only one chance to hear the mission and if they don’t understand the mission, they won’t know what to do.

As you present your mission to your organization, remember this leadership lesson from Mission Impossible: Your message must be clear.

Give the pertinent information. State the information clearly. Make sure the mission is understood.

3. William Brandt

I didn’t write the rules.

The government is out to shut down the IMF. They believe they’re reckless. The ends don’t justify the means.

During a hearing, they bring in an IMF member, William Brandt. Throughout the hearings, Brandt responds with a statement that he cannot comment on any information without the Secretary’s approval.

One of the only times he deviates from this statement is when he drops the comedic line “I didn’t write the rules.”

This line was funny in the movie but a leadership position, it can be deadly.

While you may not have written the rules, you are in a position of leadership and you have the ability to accept the responsibility for the rules.

As a leader, you must own the rules that have been laid out before you.

4. You have allies you’ve never met – After Ethan Hunt received his “mission” from the record store, he was captured. We find him chained to a pole and about to be interrogated.

Only we find out Ethan has an ally he didn’t know he had.

The woman, Ilsa Faust, who we thought was going to do the interrogation turned out to be an unknown ally to Ethan. She helped him fight off the true threat.

There are a lot of people out in the world. Most of them aren’t against. Then again, most aren’t for you either. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of people rooting for you.

And these are your unknown allies. They’re cheering on your business, your organization, your church.

You’re never alone. You have people standing up for you even if you don’t realize it.

5. Ethan Hunt

Are you in? ARE YOU IN???

You need to know who’s in your team and who’s not. To do so, you need to be willing to ask the question “Are you in?”

You’ll get yes’s and no’s, but at least you’ll know who’s with you.

6. Accidents aren’t always accidents – Ethan was always watching current events. What he saw was troubling. What appeared to be accidents weren’t accidents at all.

These events were put into place by an evil mastermind.

Without Ethan looking into the “accidents,” no one would have known there was trouble brewing. That would have been bad!

Are you tracking what’s going on in your organization? Do you see anything that’s out of place?

It may be worth looking into to see if there’s more than meets the eye.

7. Ethan Hunt

How’s the pace?

At one point, Ethan looks to his group and asks “How’s the pace?” While he wasn’t too concerned they wouldn’t be able to keep up, he felt the need to ask anyways.

Within you organization, there will be high performers and low performers. Those low performers may have a difficult time keeping up.

You need to periodically check in with your team members, both high and low performers. Ask how things are going and what you can do to help them keep up.

It’ll create a totally new dynamic with those you work with.

8. Self-sacrifice is required of leaders – As Ethan Hunt is running from the law and trying to hunt down the movie bad guy, he enlists the help of another IMF member, Benji Dunn.

After the fiasco at the Opera house, he tells Benji to go back to Alan Hunley. Tell him the truth and that it was a trap set by Ethan.

Ethan was willing to sacrifice himself for the good of his team members. He wasn’t afraid to have the blame laid on him.

This reminds me quite a bit of Simon Sinek’s book Leaders Eat Last. In his book, Sinek shares that leaders don’t get privileges in leadership. Rather, they take the brunt of the choices that are made.

Real leaders know that leadership requires sacrifices from the leader. Be willing to sacrifice your desires and needs for the betterment or safety of your team.

9. Benji Dunn

This is not going to end well.

Benji was in a situation that didn’t look too good. In fact, it looked like the ending was going to be very bad.

He took a bold, or should I say leadership style, step and spoke up about what was happening.

There are people who are scared to voice their opinion. Whether it’s fear of retribution or the thought they might not be right, they hold back their opinion.

Whereas, leaders know they must be willing to let their voice be heard. They’ve been brought to the leadership table and that gives them the responsibility to speak up.

10. Try again – The disbanded IMF had a mission. They had to break into a secure facility. This required Ethan to be submerged upwards of 3 minutes while he replaced a data card.

During this portion of his mission, Ethan failed. He missed placing the card into the slot and he missed the escape hatch. Both of these missteps could have cost him his life. In fact, they almost did.

After 3 minutes, Ethan passed out. He was a goner. And then Isla dove into the water and took hold of his lifeless body.

As she was going for the hatch door, she misses the first time. The second time, she grabs the door and gets them both out.

Had Ethan and Isla not tried again, the outcome would have been disastrous.

Seeing this played out in the movies, and in real life, we still continue in our same old habits. We let one failure or setback keep us from trying again.

You can’t give up after your first attempt. Heck, you can’t give up after your second attempt if you believe in what you’re doing.

11. Putting on the brakes could be the best course of action – There’s a great action scene in Mission Impossible 5 where Ethan is chasing down Isla only to be pursued by a gang of bikers.

He’s racing away in his car when he comes up with a brilliant idea. He chose to pull the emergency brake.

This not only stopped the car but by throwing on the emergency brake, he was able to spin the car and take out his pursuers.

Once we begin a course of action, we find it mighty difficult to put a stop to things.

We feel we’ve invested too much time. We feel we’re too close to a breakthrough. We feel winners never quite.

That’s not true. Sometimes the best course of action is to stop.

12. Isla Faust

There will always be another Lane. There will always be people like us…

Here, Isla was trying to get Ethan to run away with her. She wanted to be done with the spy life and to be safe.

Isla told him that their battle will never be done. There will always be another bad guy. There will always be someone to replace Ethan or Isla as well.

It’s a neverending cycle. One we don’t want to recognize.

In our choice to leave the youth group we’d been leading, we struggled with who would be there for the students. Who would take care of them like us?

I believe most leaders struggle with that question as well. They want to know who will take care of their baby.

The truth, as God revealed to us, was that there will be others. Someone will step in and take over.

When it’s time to move on, move on.

13. Coverups will be revealed – As the movie comes to a close, we discover the prime minister’s assistant had covered up a secret organization. He’d been hiding that he created the Syndicate and it went off the grid.

His secret deeds were revealed and it cost him dearly.

Far too many leaders think they can cover up their mistakes. They think it’s for the better.

Keeping secrets will only result in pain and trouble. When mistakes are made, own up.

Was Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation Good?

You could tell this from my opening statement but MI:5 was a great summer movie. Tom Cruise excelled in his role as Ethan Hunt. Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, and Jeremy Renner were great as well.

The story may have been over the top, but that’s the point of action movies. Deliver big on the action, provide some comic relief, and give us a good time.

You do that, you’ve got a good movie. That’s the formula Mission Impossible stuck with and that made it an enjoyable movie.

My recommendation? Go out and see the new Mission Impossible.

Question: Have you seen Mission Impossible 5 yet? If so, what leadership lessons did you take away from the movie? If not, what was your favorite leadership lesson or quote from Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation? Let’s share our thoughts in the comment section below.

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