Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Knight Rider 2000

A Reel Leadership Article

My latest book, Reel Leadership, is now available on Amazon. If you love movies and leadership, you will love this book.

The nostalgia movies from the ’80s and ’90s bring is powerful. There’s something about going back in time and watching a unique period in film. The movies from this time are often similar to one another, especially the themes and views of the future.

Knight Rider 2000 is no different. David Hasselhoff returns as Michael Knight. So does Edward Mulhare as Devon Miles. New characters are introduced as well.

Michael Knight and Devon in Knight Rider 2000

Since Knight Rider 2000 was a made-for-tv special, it makes the movie that much better. It’s cheesy yet fun. It got things right, and it got things way wrong.

You’ll enjoy watching or rewatching the movie if you’re a fan of the Knight Rider television series. You may even enjoy the film if you’re not a fan of Knight Rider. Give it a go.

Then, come back here. Read the article. Discover the leadership lessons in Knight Rider 2000.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Knight Rider 2000

1. Visionaries are not always right:

I believe the screenwriters and producers for movies are visionaries. They can see something in their mind and translate it to the big screen.

Writers Rob Hedden and Glan Larson, along with director Alan J. Levi, had a vision for the future. One of the things they foresaw was that prisoners would be placed into cryogenic chambers where they could be safely stored. This would reduce the cost of housing them in prisons. Guns were also removed from society. Police officers carried sonic guns that would disable suspects.

Neither of these things came to pass in the year 2022, while the movie was set in the year 2000. Whoops!

You’re going to get things wrong as a leader. You’re going to have a vision for a better day or, maybe, you see a bleak future for your organization.

Know that the vision you have for your organization may not be correct. You will be off in your predictions.

That’s okay!

You can correct it once your predictions have failed to materialize. You can then move on to the next idea and test it. And then the next.

2. Officer Kurt Miller (Eugene Clark):

Are you okay?

As Miller and Officer Shawn McCormick (Susan Norman) are in a police precinct, a cop murderer tries to escape. The murderer knocks down a couple of officers. This is when McCormick jumps onto the back of the convict.

She desperately tries to subdue the suspect. She fails and is tossed aside.

Miller jumps in. He takes out the perp. Then he goes and asks McCormick if she is okay.

When was the last time you asked your team members if they were okay? Recently? A long time ago? Never?

Great leaders know they need to check up on their people. Not because they don’t trust them but because they care about the people they lead.

Make sure you’re asking you’re people if they’re okay.

3. Russell Maddock (Carmen Argenziano):

You may be the next one laying dead in a restaurant.

The city in Knight Rider 2000 had made it a gun-free area. Police officers were to use non-lethal force. Projectile guns were outlawed.

This brought up an interesting conundrum. Who would end up dead because they couldn’t fight back effectively?

Maddock made the situation personal. He told Mayor Harold Abbey (Lou Beatty Jr.) that he may be the one who would wind up dead next.

Ouch.

His words made a point, though. The Mayor began to consider what Maddock was laying out.

When you talk to your employees, how do you do it? I want to encourage you to make your communication personal.

Help your team see how what they’re doing relates to them, not just the end customer or you. They need to know what is in it for them.

Make it personal. Your team will buy in when they see that it is about them.

4. Your dream will propel you forward:

Devon had worked for the Knight Foundation for a long time. Years later, he was still a staunch proponent of the Knight Foundation’s work.

Why? Because he believed in the dream. He made the dream of the Knight Foundation his own. He couldn’t distinguish between the two.

What’s your dream for your organization? What do you hope to accomplish?

Hold fast to your dream. The more you buy into your dream, the more energy it will give you to continue doing the hard work. And the hard work will come.

5. Doing the right thing will cost you:

McCormick had watched as a masked gunman (turns out it was Thomas J. Watts, played by Mitch Pileggi of X-Files fame) pulled the Mayor out of the Tower Building. She intervened, and Watts dropped his gun.

McCormick picked up the gun. She turned it into her partner, Miller. She trusted him, but it turns out he was working with a corrupt group of cops, including Watts.

Corrupt Officer Marla Hedges (Megan Butler) lures McCormick into a dangerous situation. Watts shows up, and he shoots McCormick in the head.

Doing the right thing costs McCormick.

Doing the right thing will cost you too. You may have to decide not to work with a specific client because of the shady business practices they’re doing behind closed doors. Maybe you have to choose to let a valuable employee go because they’re not a good fit for your organization.

The right thing can be costly. Pay the price. It is worth it.

6. Great leaders do what is right:

We saw McCormick do the right thing. We also see Dr. Jeffrey Glassman (Francis Guinan) do the right thing.

McCormick is brought into the hospital. The doctor recommended a memory chip transplant to save her life and memories.

Commissioner Ruth Daniels (Christine Healy) shoots down the idea. The memory transplant is a dangerous, expensive procedure. Neither of which the city wanted to deal with.

The good doctor chose to ignore what the Commissioner told him. He knew the right thing to do was to do the memory chip transplant.

Are you willing to do the right thing even when people are against it? Are you willing to let your people try something even if you’re against it?

Sometimes, what we believe is the right thing to do is the thing we get the most pushback over. Do the right thing anyway.

7. K.I.T.T. (William Daniels):

You may think I’m just a machine but I have an emotions chip.

K.I.T.T. is the artificial intelligence that powered the original Knight Rider 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. The artificial intelligence was amazing.

One thing the A.I. had been imbued with was an emotions chip. This meant K.I.T.T. could feel the emotions a person could feel.

He recognized this fact and reminded the other characters that he felt.

I want to remind you that your people also feel. They have emotions.

You have to be aware of emotions when leading people. You cannot treat them as inanimate objects or people without feelings.

Treat them with respect. Show them you understand that they have feelings. Help to break bad news to them in a positive way.

8. Wilton Knight (Richard Basehart):

One man can make a difference.

In a flashback during the death of Devon, we see Wilton Knight, the founder of the Knight Foundation, stating the quote above. He shared with Devon that one man could make a difference.

This changed Devon’s life. It also changed Michael’s life. With the idea implanted in their mind, they knew they could change the world.

I fully agree with Wilton. One man can make a difference.

That man (or woman) can be you. You only have to act and do what is right.

Be the change you want to see.

9. Officer Marla Hedges:

There is no out.

Miller was upset over the apparent death of McCormick. McCormick had been his partner, and he had played a role in her “death.”

Miller tells Hodges that he wanted out of the gun smuggling the crooked cops had been perpetrating. Hedges told Miller there was no out.

They had gotten in too deep. There was no going back.

The further you go toward the dark side of leadership, the harder (even impossible) it is to recover.

Be wary of going down the wrong path. Just because it looks like success doesn’t mean it is. It can be a slippery slope you won’t recover from.

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