Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

A Reel Leadership Article

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Walking out of the theater after seeing Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, all I can say is WOW. That movie took me back to the feelings I had when I saw the original Ghostbusters movie. It was a nostalgic romp.

Taking place after Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Ghostbusters Frozen Empire continues the story of Phoebe Spengler (Mckenna Grace), Trevor Spengler (Finn Wolfhard), Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd, and Callie Spengler (Carrie Coon). They’ve now moved to New York and into the old firehouse the original Ghostbusters used.

Ghostbusters in jumpsuits with their proton pack blasters ready to shoot

There’s teenage angst as Phoebe is told she’s too young to be a Ghostbuster. There are laughs and cheap thrills, and there are even returning Ghostbusters that will make you cheer.

But what’s happening in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire? 

Nadeem Razmaadi (Kumail Nanjiani) is cleaning out his grandmother’s belongings when he comes across items that may be supernatural or haunted. He brings these items to Ray Stantz’s (Dan Aykroyd) shop of curiosity. There, Ray discovers an artifact of extreme power. One that could turn the city of New York to ice.

This is what sets everything up in the movie. It’s what makes it fun, exciting, and a learning experience. 

Let’s dive into the Reel Leadership lessons in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

1. Leadership is about breaking expectations:

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire opens in 1904. There has been an emergency, and the New York Fire Department answers the call. 

One of the firefighters touches the door to the room. It’s cold to the touch. So cold his hand begins to freeze to the metal.

It’s not a fire like they thought. It’s a freezing. It’s not what they were expecting.

Leadership is a lot like these firefighters’ experience. It’s about breaking and broken expectations.

You may expect your team to do something, they don’t. You may expect a specific outcome except it doesn’t happen.

These are broken expectations.

But then there are the times when you break expectations. 

You help lead the team to record results. Your turnover rate drops to the lowest levels ever. 

Be ready to have your expectations broken. But also be ready to break the expectations of others.

2. Phoebe Spengler:

I have a ghost to bust.

Gary, Trevor, Callie, and Phoebe are in the Ecto-1. They’re chasing the Hell’s Kitchen Sewer Dragon. The ghost is getting away, and someone has to act.

Phoebe suggests she could open the gunner door on the vehicle. Callie tells her not to do it.

Then Phoebe says the leadership quote...

She knows that something has to be done. If no one else will, she will.

You have a company to run, people to lead, things to change. You may come up against challenges and struggles… Maybe even opposition in senior leadership.

You have to be willing to tell them you have a job to do. Then go do it.

3. You’ve got to get rid of past baggage:

Nadeem sells Ray an ancient artifact that is so powerful it has been housed in a copper room. Once removed, the artifact could begin to reach out to other ghosts. It could also freeze items around it.

After Ray buys the items from Nadeem, Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts) arrives at the firehouse. She looks at the ghost containment unit. The retaining wall has shifted, and there are issues that could be ghost-related.

Gary then asks Janine if the containment unit has ever been emptied. Her answer is scary: No, it never has. It still houses all of the ghosts captured by the Ghostbusters.

This posed a problem. The containment unit was full. Almost bursting. No maintenance was done to the unit.

Our organizations often run like this. We pick up more and more baggage. We add new rules, regulations, and operations. We pile on more things without jettisoning things that no longer work, have been decommissioned, etc…

As a leader, you have to be willing to get rid of the past baggage of the organization. This allows room for growth. 

4. Phoebe Spengler:

What’s the worst part about being a ghost?

Phoebe brought her chess board to the local park. As she set it up, the pieces began to move. There was a ghost there!

The ghost’s name is Melody (Emily Alyn Lind). She has been trapped as a ghost since she was killed in a fire.

Phoebe strikes up a conversation with Melody while they play chess. During their discussion, Phoebe asks Melody a question:

What’s the worst thing part about being a ghost?

I love this question. I think it’s the perfect question to ask our team members with a slight twist. Ask them what it’s like to be someone in production, sales, etc.. Whatever their role may be. Imagine if you took the time to ask your people this question?!?

The answers would probably astound you. You may hear feedback about how they enjoy their current role. You may hear that you’re not giving them enough support. 

When you ask them what the worst part of their job is, be ready for an open and frank conversation. They’ll let you know.

5. Gary Grooberson:

I know this sucks. It really does.

Phoebe had been benched after Mayor Walter Peck (William Atherton) called the Ghostbusters into his office. He shared with them the damage they’ve done and how they’ve put a young girl in danger. 

After the benching, Gary was working on a proton pack. He pretended to need help. Going as far as sabotaging the proton pack so he could ask Phoebe for her help.

She quickly sees the problem. Then the two talk.

Gary shares how he knows what she’s going through sucks. He acknowledges her feelings. He even tries to help her process them a bit.


What leadership. Great leaders understand their people are going through some crappy situations. It could be a health-related issue. It could be relationship issues. It could be a death in the family.

Be a leader who recognizes your people’s struggles. Don’t minimize them. Sit with them during their struggles. They need you standing with them.

6. Have people you can call on:

Podcast (Logan Kim) recorded a video of the ancient artifact. The artifact was making a weird sound. When he showed the video to Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Venkman said he knew who they needed to reach out to.

Venkman takes Podcast and the video to Dr. Hubert Wartzki (Patton Oswalt). He’s an expert on ancient languages. 

Who do you have that you can go to when times are tough? When you don’t know what to do next?

Leaders have to have someone they can go to with expertise. I call it your Leadership Roledex. 

It’s names, numbers, and email addresses of colleagues, friends, and past bosses that have been there, done that. They have the expertise you don’t.

Be willing to call on your friends for help.

7. Ask the right questions:

Phoebe asks Dr. Wartzki what the artifact was. He responded that she was asking the wrong question.

She shouldn’t have asked what it was. The right question to ask about the artifact was, “What’s inside the artifact?”

We can’t get to the root of an issue if we ask the wrong questions. The right questions will lead us to the right answer.

Be willing to switch up the way you’re asking questions. Change the questions you’re asking. Dig deeper into them.

When you ask the right question, you’ll get the right answer.

8. Not everyone is motivated to do the same thing:

Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) tells Ray this is their golden years. They need to be willing to go sit on the beach, drink a little, and enjoy the rest of their lives.

Ray struggled with this. He tells Winston he enjoys the “ghost stuff.” It’s what keeps him energized.

Did you see this? Two people, two different desires in their lives. 

One wanted to relax. The other wanted to do what he’s always done.

There’s no right or wrong way to retire. You can continue to enjoy what you once did. Or you can choose to do something different, something that relaxes you.

Don’t be afraid to do your own thing.

9. Leaders do the impossible:

Ray had told Nadeem that he was the new Firemaster. This title has been passed down through generations. Yet Nadeem didn’t realize he was the next in line.

Nadeem would be responsible for protecting the world from threats such as Garraka, the being contained within the ancient artifact. He would also have to learn how to control fire.

But that’s impossible, right?! Nadeem thought so… Until he was able to firebend. 

There are two lessons here. The first is that leaders attempt and often accomplish the impossible. They’re willing to take on things that seem beyond them. They do what others cannot.

Be that kind of leader.

The other lesson here is that leadership is passed down. The person who was a leader before you had to pass the leadership baton. You will have to pass the leadership baton. Know when to pass it.

10. Modify your methods:

Garraka was an ice being unaffected by the proton packs the Ghostbusters used. He easily shook off their attacks.

Phoebe recognized this. She also began to understand that there was a reason Nadeem’s grandmother had a room full of copper: to keep Garraka trapped. 

Because of this, Phoebe began to modify her proton pack. She first looked for copper. When none was available, she went for the backup of bronze, another metal that could contain evil spirits. 

She worked on her proton pack and coated parts with metal, which made it useful against Garraka.

Phoebe recognized her regular proton pack wouldn’t work against this new threat. She had to change up her tactics, her tools. What threats or challenges are you facing that your current toolset or skills are failing against?

Look for ways to modify your current methods. Or look for new methods to use.

There’s always something new you can do or try. If the old isn’t working, give it a shot.

11. Peter Venkman:

Just do it. We all trust you.

Ray began to discuss his plan. He wanted everyone on board and felt the best way to do this was to explain what would happen.

Venkman realized time was short. They needed to act. He also understood all of the Ghostbusters there trusted Ray.

This pushed him to tell Ray to just do it. Ray sprung into action and his plan worked.

If you’ve been a great leader, you don’t need to always explain yourself. You’ve gained the trust of your people. Use this not for your gain but to take action.

You can go ahead with things without filling everyone in. You can move forward without fear. 

Your people trust you. You’ve gained their respect and can take action as long as you’re doing it for them.

Just do it.

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