Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Dune Part 2

A Reel Leadership Article

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It’s been two and a half years since Frank Herbert’s Dune Part 1 was released in theaters to overwhelming critical acclaim. Now, we’re ready to see and learn the leadership lessons in Dune Part 2. 

Dune Part 2 continues where the first Dune movie left off. Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) is back. He’s struggling to acclimate to the Fremen culture, which is different from the culture he was brought up in. He’s also dealing with the weight and challenge of the Lisan al Gaib prophecy proclaimed over him.

Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet in Dune: Part Two. Dark haired female on the left, dark haired male on the right. In drab clothing.

Getting into Dune Part 2 was difficult for me. I watched the first movie years ago. I should have rewatched the prequel before stepping into this movie. There would have been less confusion and maybe even more enjoyment from the film.

Dune Part 2 is a beautiful film. The cinematography and audio are unbeatable. I sat in awe as the expansive landscapes presented themselves. The audio (and absence of audio) added to the effect of the movie. 

Whether you’re a critic of the film or absolutely loved Dune Part 2, you can learn something from it. We’ll explore the leadership and life lessons found in Dune Part 2.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Dune Part 2

1. Use the proper form of communication:

Paul, Chani (Zendaya), Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), Stilgar (Javier Bardem), and others were waiting in the desert. A military force is coming to attack them. They knew they had to stay quiet and move quickly.

To do so, they stopped speaking. They began to sign to one another to let them know their next moves. This allowed them to be silent as their enemies approached. 

When you think of communication, you may think of verbally sharing your mission and vision. You may extend that to your written communication via emails or text messages.

Yet communication goes so much further. Your body language communicates. Your tone of voice communicates. Everything you do is a form of communication. 

Learn to use your communication correctly.

2. Our focus can be on the wrong thing:

The enemy of the Fremen was focused on a worm sign. This would have been sand movement in the desert or a breaking of the surface of the sand. All eyes were focused on that potential movement.

This wasn’t the threat they should have been focused on.

While scanning the sand, the Fremen fired their shot. They killed the first man looking for the sandworm and then attacked.

The focus was on the wrong thing.

Much like us… we can find ourselves focusing on metrics that don’t matter. We can focus on tasks that don’t matter.

Find the things that truly matter in your organization. Focus on those aspects. You’ll discover that you’re making greater strides when the focus is on the right thing. 

3. Paul Atreides:

No, no, no… I’ll do it.

Before the threat appeared, there had already been a dead soldier. After the Fremen cleared the threat, they had to move the body. 

A woman approaches the body and begins to help move it. Paul steps in. He tells her no. He will do it.

This didn’t come across as an “I can do this better than you” statement. This was a statement of respect. 

Paul knew this man. He cared for him. He was going to step up and take care of it.

There are situations where you will have to step in and take action. You won’t be able to stand by the sidelines.

Step into situations that people may feel are below you. You will find yourself doing meaningful, purposeful work. It may even be respectful work.

Be a leader who, as Nike would say, just does it.

4. What is an honor to some is not an honor to others:

Lady Jessica was offered the opportunity to become a Reverend Mother. This was a big deal. Even Paul saw it as such.

However, Lady Jessica didn’t. She knew she had no choice. She had to take on the responsibility of becoming the Reverend Mother. 

There was only acceptance or death. She chose to accept the honor.

You may think offering a top performer a promotion is an honor. To some, it may be. To that specific person, it may not be.

Especially if you put a stipulation on it, such as he accepts it or he is fired.

Learn how to work through these situations. Find ways to make a promotion, raise, or lateral move a true honor, not a forced acceptance.

5. Paul Atreides:

I’m not here to lead. I’m here to learn your ways. To fight beside you.

Stilgar has Lady Jessica drink the Water of Life. This is a liquid that is taken from an infant sandworm. It is typically deadly to humans. 

After Lady Jessica survives drinking the liquid, people begin to think Paul is the savior of his people. He’s going to lead them to the promised land.

Paul has a different idea. He doesn’t want to lead. He wants to be someone who walks along side his people, to learn their ways, to fight with them. 

His main goal isn’t leadership. It’s relationship.

What’s your main goal in your position? Is it the honor and acclaim you get from the title? Is it the increased wealth? Is it something else?

When leading, consider the relationships you have. They’re what’s important. 

Finding ways to connect, be with, and share with your team will move you forward more than any demands of leadership.

6. Experience trumps research:

Stilgar sends Paul to the desert. He’s to set up camp and survive in the barren wilderness. To get there, he has to sandwalk.

Paul moves through the desert, moving his feet in wish-washy ways that don’t disturb the sandworms. Or so he thinks.

Chani is sitting on a sand dune. She’s watching him in his awkward movements. She comes down from the dune and tells him he’s doing it wrong.

Paul begins to protest. He tells her he’s watched films showing him how to sandwalk. That’s when it hits him… He’s right there with someone who knows how to sandwalk. 

Chani’s experience trumps any research Paul may have done.

The experiences of those close to you trump any research you may have done. Their experience is lived out. 

Be willing to listen to those with experience. They’ve walked through those difficult leadership experiences. They’ve faced trials and tribulations only to come through on the other side.

Research is great, but experience trumps it.

7. Paul Atreides:

We can stop them together.

Paul and the Fremens have a common enemy. They’ve both faced them for a long time.

Paul shares how Stilgar and the Fremens have faced the threat for decades. That’s well and good but Paul’s people have been fighting them for centuries.

This is when Paul says that they can team up and stop them together.

Partnerships… They’re wonderful. They can combine the wisdom, strength, and resources of multiple people or organizations into one cohesive unit.

Paul saw this between his people and the Fremen. How can you see this in your organization?

Who do you need to partner with? What resources can you provide or gain by partnering with another organization? 

Partnerships can help you go farther. They also help others go farther. Find the right people or organizations and partner with them.

8. Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh):

You underestimate the power of faith.

The Emperor (Christopher Walken) wants to kill Paul. He sees him as a threat, especially as the prophecies are beginning to be fulfilled.

Princess Irulan, however, sees things differently. She sees Paul coming into the prophecy. She sees the people’s belief in him.

Killing Paul would be a mistake. If a successful attempt on Paul’s life were made, the people’s faith would increase. They would see their faith being rewarded.

Faith is an important aspect of our lives. It drives us to do the things we do.

Build up the faith of your people. Don’t underestimate what it can do in your organization.

9. Great leaders understand the cascading impact of their actions:

Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) tells Paul that he could do some amazing things. He tells Paul to gather the armies of people and go south. He’d be able to overtake any enemies coming his way.

Paul hesitates. He doesn’t want to go south. He’s had visions of the horrors that will happen if he gains power. 

Paul doesn’t go (at least not at this time, though it changes). He understands that his rise to power will harm many people.

Your actions have an impact. More importantly, your actions have a cascading impact upon those you lead. 

Be aware of how your actions will cascade down from the top of the organization to the bottom. You may not quite understand how positive change at the top of an organization can hurt those at the bottom of the organization. 

10. Leaders send clear messages:

Paul had to send a clear message to the other houses. He had the message sent that if they were to attack, he would destroy the spice fields.

This would deal a major blow to the financial stability of the houses. They relied on the spice drugs being harvested.

The message was clear: attack and lose your financial stability or hold back and stay safe.

What message are you sending to your people, customers, and vendors? Are they clear? Muddy? Somewhere in between?

Our messages have to be clear. There should be no wiggle room when we’re communicating. 

If there’s unclarity, the message can be misconstrued. People can misunderstand.

A clear message is a good message.

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