Almost 14 years ago, the original Incredibles movie released. Audiences were captivated by the adventures of Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson – He’s not a Coach any longer but a superhero father), Helen Parr/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), Violet Parr (Sarah Vowell), Dashiell “Dash” Parr (Huck Milner), Jack-Jack Parr (Eli Fucile), and Lucius Best/Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson).
While it’s been a long time coming, the Incredibles returned to movie theaters this past weekend. And the wait was worth it.
The theater Pam and I were in erupted with laughter. Little kids yelped in fear. Parents roared and cheered for the good guys. Incredibles 2 was a hit.
Incredibles 2 provides the viewer with great entertainment. Incredibles 2 is also filled with great leadership lessons.
Let’s take a look at the leadership lessons in Incredibles 2 and what they mean for you.
Caution: Incredibles 2 spoilers below
Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Incredibles 2
1. Success takes time:
Before Incredibles 2 began, the voice actors for the characters in the story appeared on the screen. They shared how excited they were to be reprising their roles and telling the continued story of the Parrs/The Incredibles.
They also apologized for taking so long to make an Incredibles sequel. Yet their reasoning rang true.
The work which goes into an animated movie is intense. From hand-drawn cells to the added computer animation to the synching of voices to editing the storyboards, you have to put a lot of work over a lot of time.
For Incredibles 2, this meant 14 years between the original and the sequel.
Too many people think they can become an overnight success. One day they’re going to wake up and boom! Everything has fallen into place and no work had to be done.
This is a lie. Success takes time. You have to put in hard work over an extended amount of time to see true success.
Be willing to put in the time required to be a success. You need the foundation under you to be firm. Build it.
2. Sometimes you want to forget what you’ve seen:
Violet was asked out by a classmate of hers, Tony Rydinger (Michael Bird). Shortly after being asked out, Violet and her family battle against the villainous Underminer (John Ratzenberger).
Tony was running for his life when he saw something strange. A girl who looked like Violet dressed in a superhero costume. Wait! It was Violet.
After seeing this, Tony wanted to forget what he had seen. Superheros were outlaws. They weren’t supposed to be fighting in public and he LIKED Violet.
He wanted to go back to the way things were before. He wanted to forget.
Seeing Tony want to forget what happened reminds me of the things I want to forget.
I want to forget the horrible accident that took Aaron way too soon. I want to forget the affair that damaged so many relationships in a previous church. And I want to forget the betrayal I’ve felt from other leaders.
Leadership has its ups and downs. They are par for the leadership course. You can’t escape them and you can’t forget them.
What you can do is to keep on keeping on. You have to get past the hurts and the setbacks. You have to continue moving forward.
3. Great leaders know the consequences and act anyway:
Superheros were illegal in the world of the Incredibles. This meant any superheroic actions Mr. Incredible and his family took would be breaking the law. Yet when they saw the Underminer destroying their city, they knew they couldn’t sit back. The Incredibles had to fight the Underminer.
They did. They took the fight to him and stopped him for the time being.
With the Underminer stopped, it was now time for the Incredibles to face the consequences of their actions. For there would be.
Great leaders know the cost of leadership. They also know the cost of doing the right thing. Sometimes doing the right thing will cost them and you mightily.
Do you have it in you to do the right thing even when there are consequences you will have to pay? To be a great leader, you will have to be.
4. Mr. Incredible:
I can’t steer it or control it.
During the battle with the Underminer, the Incredibles took control of his drill machine. Except Mr. Incredible had destroyed the controls. This meant he couldn’t stop the machine as it rampaged through the city.
Realizing what he’d done, Mr. Incredible admitted he couldn’t control or steer the contraption. And this wasn’t good!
Leaders will find themselves in situations where steering or controlling a situation is beyond their ability. They’re not able to get the results they desire.
This is okay. You’re going to be alright. You can still experience success.
When you realize you can’t control or steer the situation, you need to examine what’s going on. Who do you need to call in? Where can you go for help? What can be done to mitigate any damage?
Consider all of these things. Then get help.
5. Agent Rick Dicker:
You want to get out of the hole? First you’re going to have to put down the shovel.
Agent Rick Dickler (Jonathan Banks) was the head of the Super Relocation Program and a friend to the Parrs. Once the Incredibles was done battling the Underminer, Rick had to have a sitdown talk with Mr. Incredible.
His talk included an encouragement to stop what he was doing. To try to lie low. Mr. Incredible had to stop digging the hole he was in.
When you get into trouble, it is easy to keep digging yourself deeper and deeper. One excuse follows another. Bad action after bad action.
If you realize you’re in trouble, put the shovel down. Stop doing the things causing you to get into trouble.
6. Talk about the elephant in the room:
All of the Parrs knew something bad had happened during their fight with the Underminer. Their city was damaged and they were part of the cause.
During dinner, no one was talking about the issues they were going to face. And this caused more problems.
The adults didn’t want to talk about it. The kids did. They realized talking about the big elephant in the room everyone already noticed would help the situation.
Your team can sense when things aren’t right. They can tell if there’s financial challenges or quality problems.
Stop hiding the truth from your team. Instead, shine a light on the issues at hand. Talk about the elephant.
Call an all hands on deck meeting. Sending out an email. Make the needed calls. Get everyone on the same page.
This will allow everyone to begin thinking of solutions and ways to work towards a resolution.
7. Your story matters:
Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener) and Winston Deavor’s (Bob Odenkirk) father was killed when two robbers broke into their home. Their father tried to call two superhero friends and their lines had been disconnected. Had he instead called the police, he may have survived the attack.
Evelyn and Winston each shared their story with Helen, Bob, and Lucius as they attempted to recruit them to become the face of superheroes everywhere. Their hope was their story would inspire them to fight against an unjust law. And it worked.
The friends agreed to help the Deavors. They would begin fighting crime in an effort to sway public opinion in favor of superheroes.
Without hearing the Deavors story, the trio of friends may not have been inclined to join in this battle. With the story, they were excited and fired up to change the world.
Your story, like the Deavors, matters. Your story can and will resonate with those you lead. You have to give them a chance to hear your story and relate to it.
Don’t be afraid to tell others how you rose to your position of leadership. Of why leading the organization you lead matters to you. And how they have a part in the story.
8. Perception matters:
Why were superheroes outlawed and feared? Why were they forced underground? Superheroes were forced to go underground because of the way they were portrayed in the media.
They were shown to be reckless and careless. They were destructive. At least according to the media.
The media and politicians showed the public what they wanted to see. They showed destruction and mayhem following their heroic deeds. And this scared people.
They conveniently left out the heroics they carried out. The criminals they stopped. The people they saved. Or the good they did was relegated to back page news while the damage was pushed to the front page.
The people perceived the supers in one way and one way only: A menace. This mattered and they were outlawed.
You have to be keenly aware of the perception of the people you lead. How do they view you or the company? Is it in a positive light or a negative light?
Think about ways you can shift their perception so you and the organization are viewed positively. Can you make yourself more known to your team? Are the lines of communication open? Do you smile?
All of these things will affect the way your team perceives you. You have the ability to change their perception.
It’s nice to be wanted.
Winston chose Elastigirl to be the face of supers as they attempted to spin them in a positive light. This made Elastigirl ecstatic (not elastic, she was already elastic). She was now wanted and knew it.
Your team members want to know they’re a valuable part of the team. They don’t want to be thought of as expendable or replaceable.
Show your team you care about them. Let them know they’re wanted.
10. New ways can be confusing:
Mr. Incredible had to take over the parenting duties as Elastigirl fought crime. One of the things he had to do was help his son Dash with New Math homework.
Mr. Incredible struggled with helping Dash because the math was confusing (much like common core math has been a thorn in many parents’ side). He was frustrated because he didn’t know how to complete the work in the way it was desired.
Change is confusing. Especially to people who are used to doing things in a certain way. When you introduce change, you have to be prepared for the confusion and frustration that will follow.
People are resistant to change. They know how one way works and trying something new takes time to learn.
Be patient as you implement changes in your organization. Help your team to understand why change is happening and how change will benefit their work.
By helping them understand the reasoning, you can alleviate much of the frustration that will come with change. You may even be able to win them over!
11. You are uniquely designed to lead in your own way:
Elastigirl was given the Elastibike by her new employers. The bike was Incredible. The Elastibike could twist and separate as Elastigirl twisted and contorted her body. The bike was unique.
You are unique as well. So should your leadership style.
Use your uniqueness to lead in a way that matches your personality and abilities.
12. Your success can make others feel defeated:
Elastigirl was able to save a hijacked train from crashing and killing hundreds of people. As she related the story to Mr. Incredible, you could see the joy drain from his face. His wife’s victory brought him sorrow.
Mr. Incredible wasn’t out there fighting crime. He was at home raising his family while his wife was kicking butt. And he had a hard time celebrating his wife’s success.
Celebrating other people’s success can be a hard thing to do. Whether you’re the giver or the taker on this one.
I know I’ve found myself secretly grumbling to myself when I see someone else facing massive amounts of success. You’ve probably done it too. And others have grumbled and complained when you’ve shared your success.
Remember, you can celebrate the successes of others. In fact, celebrating the success of others is the right thing to do.
13. Bed leaders will always take more:
While Elastigirl was ecstatic about saving the passengers on the runaway train, she was also sad she didn’t catch ScreenSlaver, the villain who set the diabolical plan into action. She knew ScreenSlaver would come back for more.
Bad leaders are always willing to take more than they’re willing to give. They’ll look for places where they can take more from so they can receive more recognition, money, or power.
Be careful of being a taker. Find ways to be a giver instead.
14. Great ideas with bad implementation are bad:
ScreenSlaver had great ideas. She was tired of people being addicted to their screens… And tired of people relying on superheroes to save the regular Joe.
She had great ideas on why this was wrong. She also had great ideas on what to do. However, her implementation was bad.
She desired to see all superheroes outlawed. To be done away with. She couldn’t see how they could still be valuable.
Your ideas may be great. But what is your reasoning behind them? Are they just and reasonable or are they selfish and hurtful?
Many times you will implement poorly because your reasoning is bad. Be wary of who you may hurt when you begin implementing your ideas.
How do you balance the hard stuff with the life stuff?
Violet was a moody teenage girl in Incredibles 2. Yet her question of balancing the hard stuff with the life stuff is something all leaders need to think about.
Your life is important. Your leadership position is important. So… How do you balance the two?
You need to examine your life and figure out where the two mix and mesh. You can set boundaries and choose where and how you lead and live life.
Make the hard choices so your life isn’t impacted negatively.
16. Mr. Incredible:
I didn’t think of you paying the price for a choice you never made.
Violet’s dad, Mr. Incredible, made a couple of choices for Violet that she never made. From telling Rick Dickler about Tony seeing Violet in her superhero outfit to bringing her to The Happy Diner, his choices had a price to pay. Violet had to pay them without a say in the matter.
You will make choices as you lead that will impact others. And they will have no choice in the matter.
You have to be careful and thoughtful when making decisions. They’re impacting others and the impact could be positive or negative. And they will have to pay the price for your decisions.
Your choices could close a facility. Maybe your choice requires others to be laid off. Still, your choice could make someone think twice about their life’s purpose.
The people you lead will pay the price for the choice YOU made. Make wise choices.
17. Different people have different views:
Evelyn and Winston had differing views on the death of their father. Winston believed if superheroes were still lawful, his father would be alive. Evelyn, on the other hand, blamed superheroes for her father’s death. He trusted them when he should have trusted a regular person.
Their views differed greatly and led them down different paths.
When you lead, people are going to see the same situation differently. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to help them balance their views and come to an agreement.
Be a leader who helps people realize they will differ but they can still work together.
18. Let your team know you’re proud of them:
Dash and Violet had to help save their parents, Frozone, and other superheroes. Once they saved them, Elastigirl let Violet and Dash know she was proud of them and their actions.
Research has shown pay isn’t the top motivator of employees. There are intrinsic motivators that are much more powerful.
One of those intrinsic motivators is recognition.
Elastigirl let her kids know she was proud of them. When was the last time you let your team know you were proud of them?
If it hasn’t been recently, make it a point to appreciate them today. Tell them you’re proud of their work and you’re glad they’re working with you.