Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Klaus

A Reel Leadership Article

Klaus is the 2019 English-language Spanish 2D-animated Christmas movie. It is unique in that the film is 2D but looks 3D. It was a sight to behold.

Klaus is a quirky film. It has its bright moments but it also lost me at the same time. The animation was stunning. The whiny Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) almost made me shut the movie off as I started to watch it.

Promotional image from the Netlfix movie Klaus

However, I wanted to bring another Christmas film to the Reel Leadership archives. So, we get Klaus in addition to Die Hard and Die Hard 2.

Klaus turns into a touching movie of goodwill and kindness. I am glad I finished the movie. I think you will be as well.

Let’s take a look at the leadership lessons in Klaus today!

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Klaus

1. Jesper:

No one wonders how the whole thing got started in the first place.

Jesper wanted to tell the story of Klaus (J.K. Simmons) and how it came to be that this big, burly man began to deliver presents to children. The story Jesper told was a story worth listening to (though it is not the true Christmas story).

Jesper shares how he met Klaus. How his need to start a post office in Smeerensburg and deliver 6,000 letters within a year led to delivering presents.

Your organization has a story that needs to be told. It may not seem important or even inspiring at first glance.

I want to encourage you. Your story is essential. It tells the why and how of your organization.

Make sure you’re telling the story.

2. A divided organization is ugly:

The town of Smeerensburg was divided. You had the Krums and the Ellingboes. The two families hated each other. It showed.

The town was dark and dingy. People were unfriendly. It wasn’t a place you would want to visit.

Divided organizations are similar. They are places people don’t want to work. They are places people don’t want to do business with.

Work hard and unifying and uniting your organization.

The more unity, the more power the organization has. It also always for more things to get done.

Unite, unite, unite.

3. Pivot when needed:

Alva (Rashida Jones) had desired to become a school teacher. Because of the family feud happening in Smeerensburg, none of the children attended school.

This didn’t bode well for Alva. You can’t teach students who are there.

Alva saw this. She decided to pivot. She went from being a school teacher to being a fishmonger.

When she couldn’t teach, she found something she could do.

Leaders have to learn to pivot as Alva did. When we hit a brick wall, we have to examine the situation to see if we need to pivot.

If it is time to pivot, make the pivot. Don’t stick around in a situation that is unmovable.

Pivot, get out, and go.

4. Prepare for your goals:

Alva still had a dream of getting out of Smeerensburg. She couldn’t stand the town because of the darkness there.

She didn’t sit around complaining about the town. Instead, she decided to make a plan and prepare to exit the town.

In a cupboard, there was a fish head. There, she began to pile away money so she could move away. She was preparing for her goals.

Great leaders have goals. They know the direction they want to move in. They also know they have to prepare for their goals.

Are you preparing for your goals? What are you doing that shows you are moving toward them?

Begin to sock away money for that rainy day fund you always talk about. Seek out a mentor to help guide you to new heights. Do whatever it takes to prepare.

5. We overestimate what we can do in a short period of time:

Jesper was confident. Too confident.

He believed he could accomplish the goal of 6,000 letters in one week. Two weeks tops.

He was very wrong. He overestimated what he could do.

To reach 6,000 letters, it took him almost a year.

We look at our short-term goals and believe we can accomplish more than possible. Sometimes we can. More often than not, we can’t.

We put the cart before the horse. We plan these big, hairy audacious goals to be accomplished in short order.

Rather, we should look at our goals and see what the long-term reality is. Then, we can make more realistic and desirable goals.

6. Stop listening to bad advice:

Mogens (Norm MacDonald) was a boat captain that took Jesper to the town. Mogens continued to give Jesper lousy advice. Jesper kept taking the advice.

He fell into the trap of continuing to heed the advice of someone he shouldn’t.

Leaders, we do the same thing. We get caught in the trap of listening to people we shouldn’t.

These people may be:

  • Good friends
  • People who mean well
  • People who haven’t experienced what you’re going through
  • People who haven’t led in some time
  • Authors people rave about

Just because someone gives advice doesn’t mean it is someone you should listen to.

7. We can make things scarier than they are:

Jesper saw Klaus with a rope. Klaus was making something out of it. The rope looked like a noose.

This scared Jesper. He thought Klaus was going to string him up.

Klaus wasn’t planning to do this…

We can make the situations happening around us much scarier than they are. We can look at these things and believe the end of the world is coming.

Stop thinking negatively.

Negative thoughts rarely make great leaders. Instead, they hold leaders back from accomplishing what they were created to.

Let’s stop seeing the scary. Let’s start seeing the possible.

8. Traditions can hold us back:

After Klaus and Jesper delivered a wooden toy frog to a child in Smeerensburg, two children began to play with the toy. They were excited and happy. They also came from different sides of the track.

When the families found out they were playing together, they were angry. They told the children to stop playing together. The children couldn’t play together due to the tradition that had been put into place.

Traditions are good. They help us remember things. They help us keep people together.

However, traditions can also foul things up. Especially bad traditions.

Look at the traditions of your organization. Do they serve a purpose? Do they help you or your team?

Make sure the traditions you’re following aren’t holding you back.

9. Klaus:

A true selfless act always sparks another.

This line from Klaus was great. It is true.

When we begin to do things without regard for our own self, we begin to see amazing things happen. Selflessness begets selflessness.

It seems counterintuitive but it works.

Think about when someone does something nice for you. Do you feel malcontent or ill-will toward that person?

NO! You feel a sense of appreciation and kindness. You see someone doing good.

In fact, you probably want to reciprocate. Either to the person who did the good deed or another person.

This is how selfless acts spread. Let’s extend selflessness.

10. Deal with difficult subjects:

Klaus surprised me. It shared the story of infertility and how it impacted Klaus and his wife, Lydia.

They wanted to have children. They longed for it. Yet, time after time, they couldn’t have children.

Dealing with infertility in a children’s movie is hard. They did it with grace and dignity.

Let me open up about something. Pamela and I are struggling with infertility. For more than 10 years, we’ve been trying to become pregnant. It hasn’t happened.

It’s a difficult subject. The subject of infertility is one that many people don’t understand but many people go through.

Let’s stop making difficult subjects taboo to talk about. Let’s bring difficult subjects into the light.

Only then can the shame and guilt be dealt with.

11. Bad leaders can become better leaders:

Jesper wasn’t a good person. He was whiny, self-entitled, and arrogant. You wouldn’t have thought he could become the kind of man he did by the end of Klaus.

He did, though. He overcame his shortcomings and became a great man.

Bad leaders can overcome their shortcomings too. They can go from being a horrible leader to a leader worth following.

If you’re a terrible leader, there’s hope for you. If you know a terrible leader, there’s hope for them.

Work on your bad traits. Help the bad leaders around you work on their bad characteristics.

You or they can become better leaders.

12. Alva:

You have no idea what you’ve done.

Jesper didn’t feel like he accomplished much in the town of Smeerensburg. The people of the town saw differently.

Alva noticed how much had changed. The work Klaus and Jesper had done had brought the town together.

Jesper couldn’t see it. He was blind to his own work.

We’re like Jesper. We fail to see the excellent work that we do.

To us, it is never enough. There’s always another mountain to climb. Another business to build.

We have to take the time to look back and see what we’ve accomplished.

It is more than you imagine!

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