Captain America: The First Avenger is the fifth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Released in 2011, this film tells the story of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and his transformation into Captain America.
This is one of my favorite MCU films. The story of Captain America is one we can all aspire to.
A young man is full of hope. He desires to serve his country. However, his stature isn’t acceptable for the United States Army and he is rejected multiple times. He continues to try to get into the Army until Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) sees his potential to be the right candidate for Project Rebirth.
Steve’s story continues until we reach the beginning of the film. It’s a good ride.
Today, we’re going to look at the leadership lessons in Captain America: The First Avenger. We’ll see how this movie can intersect with our leadership and how we can become better leaders if we heed the lessons in this movie.
Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Captain America: The First Avenger
1. Know where to look:
Johann Schmidt/Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) was looking for the Tesseract at a church. It was thought to be found in a casket.
Johann knew better. He knew you don’t bury something valuable. The Tesseract they had discovered was a fake.
The real Tesseract was hidden somewhere else in the church.
Do you know where to look for talent? Are you looking in all the same places as every other business owner or leader?
If so, you’re not looking in the right place. Look to others when looking for new hires. They’ll give their recommendations and help you build a strong team.
There’s other places this applies to as well in leadership. Don’t look in the buried places. Look where the true value is.
2. Great innovators often fail multiple times:
Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) was a great inventor. He designed and created things that no other man could imagine at this time.
One of the things he debuted in 1943 was a car that could float/fly. As he debuted the flying car, the car rose off of the stage, hovered for a moment, then came crashing down.
Sure… Stark failed. Still.. Stark innovated.
We cannot be afraid to fail as leaders. We have to be willing great failures to see great success.
What are you holding back on because you’re scared to fail? Push through the fear. Push through the anxiety. Try what you’re scared of.
You may discover that you had nothing to fear, even failure isn’t to be feared.
3. Steve Rogers:
I know you think I can’t do this.
Steve was talking to his friend James Buchanan ‘Bucky’ Barnes (Sebastian Stan) about his attempts to join the Army.
Bucky was trying to be realistic. He knew Steve had a medical condition that precluded him from being able to serve.
This didn’t make Steve feel confident. However, it didn’t deter him from trying, either.
People in your life, in your organization, may try to talk you out of doing what you know you can do. They will bring up all the reasons you can’t do it.
Look at what they’re saying. See if there’s merit to their claims. There may be.
Often times, there isn’t merit to their claims. They’re speaking from their own insecurities or concerns.
You know what you can do. Do it.
4. Your tries will get noticed:
Steve wasn’t chosen for Project Rebirth because of his physical stature. One of the things Dr. Erskine noticed was the 5 tries he attempted to get into the Army.
Just by trying, you’re showing others something. You show those around you that you’re not willing to give up when times are tough.
Instead, you’re willing to continue to push yourself. You’re willing to put yourself out there.
Every time you try, someone will take note of you. Keep trying. Your tries are getting you noticed.
5. Dr. Arnim Zola (Toby Jones):
With this artifact, I am certain of nothing.
Dr. Zola was examing the Tesseract. He was trying to help Schmidt discover the true power within the device.
The more he studied, the more he realized he wasn’t certain of what the Tesseract could do. It was a thing of mystery.
Many times in leadership, we want to be certain of what we’re looking at or attempting. We want to have certainty in our endeavors.
That’s the rub. Nothing in life is certain. Nothing in leadership is certain.
You need to be okay with the uncertainty. It’s where you will discover the fun things of leadership.
6. Look for a different way of doing things:
The Army cadets were challenged to get a flag from the flag pole. A majority of the cadets tried to scale the pole. No one was able to get the flag.
It was then explained that no one in 11 years had been able to retrieve the flag. The challenge was too great.
Steve then walked over to the flag pole. He examined the pole. He removed a pin and the flag pole dropped. This allowed him to walk to the top of the flag pole and retrieve the flag.
You can look at a problem the same way as everyone else. Doing this won’t solve the problem. It’ll only prolong the amount of time the problem is around.
To truly change things, we have to look at problems from a different perspective. We have to see what needs to be done differently.
Doing things differently will help you find the solutions no one else could. Try things others aren’t doing. Figure out what works!
7. Leadership amplifies what is already inside of you:
The Project Rebirth/Supersoldier Serum amplified the qualities a candidate already had. This meant if someone had evil in their hearts, they would become eviler. If they had good in them, they would become even better.
We saw this with Steve Rogers. After he was injected with the serum, he became a shining beacon for America. His goodness was amplified.
Leadership is a lot like the Project Rebirth or Supersoldier Serum. It amplifies what is already inside of you.
If you care for people, you will care more. If you want to see others succeed, you will help them succeed.
On the other hand, if you are out for your own personal gain, this desire will only increase. There will never be enough.
8. Leaders will go through pain:
Steve Rogers chose to go through the process to become a supersoldier. As he began the process, his body was bombarded by Vita Rays.
The process wasn’t joyful. It was very painful.
Steve began to scream as the Vita Rays were increased. Dr. Erskine and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) began to tell Stark to stop the process.
Steve spoke up. He told them “No.”
He knew he had to go through the pain to get to somewhere better.
Leaders will have to go through their own process of pain. They won’t be hit by Vita Rays. Instead, leaders are hit by the Betrayal Rays, Growth Rays, Loss Rays, and more.
The pain leaders go through aren’t there to kill them. The pain is there to grow them.
Grow through your pain.
9. Leaders aren’t adored by everyone:
Steve Rogers became Captain America. He was more for show than action. However, the crowds loved him.
He would pitch US Savings Bonds to the average American. They cheered and shouted at him. They loved him.
When Steve went to see actual soldiers, the reaction was different. They booed and jeered him. They didn’t want to see him.
While we may desire to be loved and adored by all, we cannot be loved and adored by all. That’s not how it works.
You will spark life and excitement in some. In others, you will get the exact opposite reaction.
Know who you’re leading. Aim for the reactions you desire from them.
10. Don’t count yourself out:
Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) was upset at Peggy Carter. She had helped Steve Rogers join in a battle that he wasn’t assigned to.
Phillips believed Rogers and the rest of the good men on the mission had died. This is when something epic happened.
Captain America and the Howling Commandos (Bucky Barnes, Dum Dum Dugan – Neal McDonough, Jim Morita – Kenneth Choi, Montgomery Falsworth – JJ Field, Gabriel Jones – Derek Luke, Jacques Demier – Bruno Ricci, Junior Juniper, Happy Sam Sawyer, and Pinky Pinkerton) appeared. Following them were the rest of the men. They hadn’t perished but succeeded in their mission!
People may count you out. They may think you completely flubbed it.
I want to encourage you to not count yourself out. You’re not out till you’re dead.
Keep at it. Only you or God can tell you you’re finished.
11. Great leaders are followed for who they are, not what they do:
After the amazing rescue, Steve Rogers asked Bucky Barnes a question. Steve wanted to know if Bucky Barnes was ready to follow Captain America into the fight.
The response from Bucky shocked Steve.
Bucky told Steve “No.”
That wasn’t the end of his answer. His answer included more.
Bucky wasn’t ready to follow Captain America. He was ready to follow Steve Rogers into the fight.
Who you are matters. This is what people are looking at.
They follow who you are.
Your title is unimportant. What matters is you.