Over 30 years have passed since the original Blade Runner with Harrison Ford released. The movie brought a great idea to life but was slow and plodding in doing so. Blade Runner 2049 is a different story.
Blade Runner 2049 tells the story of Officer K, a Replicant who was retiring other Replicants. Officer K’s (Ryan Gosslin) story takes a turn as he begins to believe he is the child of Rick Deckard and Rachel from the original Blade Runner.
Not only does Blade Runner 2049 tie into the original Blade Runner with some interesting twists, there are plenty of leadership lessons in Blade Runner 2049. Let’s take a look at those leadership lessons.
Leadership Lessons And Quotes From Blade Runner 2049
1. Notice the subtle details:
Officer K was sent to hunt down and “retire” another replicant. After he put the replicant down, he went outside to have his drone take pictures and video of the landscape. Officer K then looks at an old tree and notices a subtle difference.
There’s a yellow flower on the ground. The flower shouldn’t be there as everything was dead and decaying.
Upon this observation, Officer K has his drone scan the ground and discovers there is a military footlocker buried beneath the tree. Without Officer K noticing the subtle details of the landscape, he would have missed the buried footlocker.
Take the time to look for the subtle details in your organization. What are you missing because you’re looking at the big picture rather than the finer details? Begin to look at your organization with eyes that see the details. You’ll begin to see things you never knew where there.
2. It can be hard to differentiate between the real and the fake:
The world of Blade Runner is a world where the truth is hard to find. At the beginning of Blade Runner 2049, we didn’t know Officer K was a replicant. He looked human enough.
Then we’re introduced to Officer K’s holographic girlfriend Joi. Officer K has feelings her but she’s not real.
Or what about the mystery of whether or not Deckard is a replicant? No clear answers were given and the truth isn’t known.
Many things in Blade Runner 2049 were hard to tell if they were real or fake. You’ll have the same experience in leadership.
There will be leadership gurus who have no experience in leading teams or organizations spewing fake knowledge. You’ll have team members who act a certain way to get what they want but not express how they truly feel. Or maybe you’ll notice the numbers in your business are not real.
Whatever it is, you have to learn to tell the difference between the real and the fake.
3. The truth is shocking:
Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) had the military footlocker removed from its burial spot. After digging the footlocker out, the police discover there were bones in the footlocker. Not only were the bones of a replicant, the bones told the story of a PREGNANT replicant.
This truth was shocking. Replicants were not supposed to be able to reproduce. Yet here was proof a replicant had become pregnant and gave birth to a child.
We like to live in a world where we believe everything is sunshine and roses. Nothing can or will go wrong.
The truth is much more shocking. There’s things we believe that are false. There’s things we don’t believe that are true. And then there’s the truth.
The truth will shock you when you hold an opposing opinion.
4. Sapper Mortin:
Because you’ve never seen a mircale
Sapper Mortin (Dave Bautista) was the replicant Officer K retired early in Blade Runner 2049. He told Officer K this as he was getting ready to kill him.
I often wonder how many times leaders miss the opportunity for something great because they fail to look for miracles. The miracle Sapper Mortin was talking about was the birth of a child from a replicant.
The miracles leaders may see would be different yet no less a miracle. A company turn-around. A new insight into business. Or a new technology introduced.
All of these are miracles that could be easily overlooked. Don’t neglect the miracles that happen in business.
5. Your past ties to your future:
In a geek out moment in Blade Runner 2049, you see Officer K interviewing someone about Deckard. You soon learn the interviewee is none other than Gaff (Edward James Olmos) from the original Blade Runner movie.
Gaff created origami in the first Blade Runner. He does so in Blade Runner 2049 and reveals his identity.
There’s also the tie into the original Blade Runner with the return of Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard. Not to mention making Officer K a replicant, all the while we’re left to wonder if Deckard is or is not a replicant.
You’ll hear it said that your past isn’t your future. This is true. Your past doesn’t determine your future.
Yet your past ties to your future. Your actions in your youth impact the man or woman you’ve become. The knowledge you gained in your youth will play into your future wisdom. Everything ties to your future.
6. Lieutenant Joshi:
We’re all just looking out for something real.
Lieutenant Joshi, Officer K’s superior, says this line to Officer K. It’s a startling realization…
But doesn’t this play into leadership? Leaders are looking for something real. Something they can grab onto and believe.
The people following the leader are looking for something real as well. They want someone they can look up to and believe in. They want someone real.
Be the real in other’s lives.
7. Stay calm:
As Officer K was investigating the report of a child born of a replicant, he went to the location of an old orphanage. There, his flying car was hit with a harpoon and some kind of EMP device that rendered the vehicle inert.
The vehicle began to fall. Joi went off-line. And Officer K remained calm.
He knew freaking out wouldn’t solve the dilemma he was facing. If he wanted to get out of the situation alive, he would need to be calm.
Leaders face a variety of issues day in and day out. These issues range from the insignificant to the significant.
Great leaders know they can’t freak out when an issue arises. They have to examine what has happened, what could happen, and an appropriate plan of action.
By remaining calm, great leaders are able to take these actions and get their organizations and teams through difficult circumstances.
I always told you you were special
The holographic girlfriend of Officer K reminded him she has always believed he was something special. He wasn’t ordinary and she believed in him.
Joi showed a great leadership trait here. She let K know she believed in what he could do.
Do you encourage your team and let them know you believe in them? They need to hear your words of encouragement.
9. Dr. Ana Stelline
He offered to buy me out but I take my freedom where I can.
Dr. Ana Stelline (Carla Jui) was told she had an auto-immune disease. She would have to stay inside of a protective enclosure so she could live. She was also a very smart girl.
One of her talents was to create memories for replicants. She would painstakingly craft memories for the replicants so they would believe they were real.
Because of her talents, Niander Wallace (Jared Leto, the Joker in Suicide Squad) offered to buy her out.
Dr. Stelline wouldn’t have that. She had limited freedom as it was. She wasn’t going to give up the freedom she had to be controlled by someone else.
You have freedom as a leader. You can do things other people cannot.
There will be the possibility someone may want to buy out your organization or have you switch to a new organization. Weigh out the decision.
What freedoms are you giving up? What freedoms will you gain?
Look at the pro’s and con’s and then make your decision.
10. Realize the hardships your team faces:
Dr. Ana Stelline realized the replicants faced many hardships. She didn’t want their memories to be one of them.
So, she created memories in extreme detail. She desired to see them living as true a life as they could so she gave them the best memories she could.
Great leaders realize their teams face hardships they’ll never face. Whether that’s the hard labor they do on the shop floor or the day-to-day struggle of living paycheck to paycheck, great leaders recognize the hardships and help mitigate them.
11. Lieutenant Joshi:
Then do what you got to do.
Freysa (Hiam Abbass) was a replicant following the orders of Wallace. She was seeking the replicant child so they could try to recreate the process.
She accosted Joshi and threatened to kill her. Joshi was okay with her fate. She told Freysa to do what she has to do.
I remember when I worked for Family Christian Stores. I was given a choice: Take an assistant manager position in a location I wasn’t comfortable with or be let go.
That was a moment I will never forget. Not because I lost my job that day but because of the peace I felt in knowing I would be okay.
As a leader, you realize decisions will be made that will impact the lives of others. This was one of those decisions.
But even on the receiving end of a negative decision, you can learn to be okay. Peace can fill your life and you will accept the decision.
Don’t be afraid of decisions that are scary. They can be the best thing to happen to you.
12. Know how to make a point:
When Officer K finally met Deckard, Deckard thought Officer K was a threat. To make his point, Officer K refused to attack Deckard. He let Deckard do all of the fighting.
This made a point to Deckard. Officer K wasn’t there to “retire” him.
Do you know how to effectively make a point? Great leaders do and they are able to clearly communicate to get their point across.
Be willing to learn the art of communication and how to make a point.
13. Rick Deckard:
Everyone had a part.
To keep his child safe, Deckard sent Rachel away to have the baby.
There were multiple people involved in the birth of his child, the hiding of his child, and the burial of his wife. Each person in this plan had a part.
Just like every person in your organization has a part to play. There are the people who create things, there are the people who imagine what could be, there are people who guide others, and many other people in the process.
Each one has a part. Don’t neglect any of the parts of your organization.
14. Leaders will be tempted:
Wallace knew Deckard’s love had passed away. So, what did he do? He tempted Deckard with a recreation of his love.
Wallace created a new Rachel. He wanted to tempt Deckard into giving up his secrets.
Deckard wouldn’t. He stood firm in doing the right thing.
You will be tempted as you lead. People will try to pull you in multiple directions, many in the wrong direction.
Know where you stand. Know what you believe. And don’t budge.
Closing Thoughts On Blade Runner 2049
There’s so much I could say about Blade Runner 2049. But I want to send out a warning.
While I shared leadership lessons from Blade Runner 2049, there are a couple of things you will want to watch out for. Blade Runner 2049 contains multiple instances of male and female nudity, including a giant holographic naked woman. While a few scenes were understandable, many were tossed in for effect.
There’s also quite a bit of foul language in Blade Runner 2049. Be ready to hear some profanity if you see this movie.
Question: Have you seen Blade Runner 2049? If you have, what leadership lessons from Blade Runner 2049 did you take away from the movie? If you haven’t seen the movie, what was your favorite leadership lesson from Blade Runner 2049 that I shared? Let me know in the comment section below.
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