Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Lightyear

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.

I was excited for the 5th movie in the Toy Story series. While not a Toy Story movie in name, Lightyear tells the origin stories of Buzz Lightyear (Chris Pine) and Zurg (James Brolin).

We find out that Buzz Lightyear is based on a movie Andy had seen as a child. This movie had a toy line created from it. And Andy loved the movie so much that he had to have a Buzz Lightyear toy (as seen in Toy Story).

Mo, Steel, Izzy, and Buzz Lightyear in Lightyear movie

Finding out the origins of Buzz Lightyear was a fun journey to infinity and beyond. If you love the Toy Story films, you will enjoy the latest addition.

Today, our Reel Leadership article will look at the leadership lessons in Lightyear. Hold onto your seats as we blast into space with this one!

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Lightyear

1. Leaders explore the unknown:

A ship carrying Space Rangers is hurting through the cosmos. The ship’s artificial intelligence locks onto an uncharted planet. The planet must be explored!

The ship awakens one of the crew members, our beloved Buzz Lightyear! He has been chosen to explore the planet and chart the planet.

As a leader, you’re in the position of Buzz Lightyear. You’re in charge of exploring the unknown.

Look at your business. Where is there uncertainty? What needs to be explored?

The task is up to you. You may choose to explore the unknown yourself or delegate this to those you lead.

Whatever you do, a leader is an explorer.

2. Buzz Lightyear:

Narrating helps me stay focused.

Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), another Space Ranger, awakens as Buzz explores the uncharted planet. She begins to mock Buzz as he records his mission logs.

Why? Because no one really listens to them. However, they help Buzz.

Buzz tells Alisha that he narrates his missions because it helps him stay focused. Narration gives him clarity.

What helps you stay focused? There are probably traits and actions that help you focus.

If you remember, fidget spinners were all the rage a few years ago. They helped children (and adults) focus by expending their extra energy.

It is your duty to figure out what focuses you. Writing out your to-do list, reciting a prayer, or taking deep breaths may help you focus. Find what works for you.

3. Great leaders listen:

Alisha brought a rookie, Featheringhamstan (Bill Hader), to Buzz. Buzz didn’t want a rookie. He felt he was fine on his own.

Buzz gave the rookie a rundown. One of the rules was no talking.

The rookie begins to speak. Buzz tells him, “Still talking.” Buzz wasn’t listening. The rookie was in trouble.

One of the native, dangerous plants on the planet had taken hold of the rookie and was dragging him into the ground.

Bad Buzz! Bad leader!

We’re like Buzz too often. We tell our employees to do the job, get it done, and don’t bother us.

The problem with this is that this is what bad leaders do. Bad leaders fail to listen to their people. They feel they don’t have anything to add or that it is an interruption to their day.

Let’s not be like Buzz. Let’s learn to listen to our people.

4. Tests don’t go as planned:

The Space Rangers wanted to get off the planet, yet they didn’t have a way to get back to space. They created a crystal fuel that could power their ship called the Turnip.

Buzz was willing to test the crystal fuel in the XL-01 ship. He launched into space, flew the mission, attempted to initiate the jump into hyperspace, and failed. The ship did not reach the necessary speed. He also discovered something else happened. While he didn’t reach hyperspeed, time dilation occurred.

He was gone for four minutes his time. He was gone for four years for those on the planet.

That didn’t go as planned!

How do you react when things don’t go as planned? Do you freak out? Do you remain calm?

How you react to tests and plans going awry tells a lot about you.

Make sure you allow room for mistakes and failures.

5. You have to live with your mistakes:

Why did the Space Rangers get stuck on the planet? Because of Buzz.

Buzz thought he could get the Turnip back into space. The rookie and Alisha offered to help him pull up and he told them no. His failure to accept help forced the ship to hit a mountain cliff and crash, stranding the Space Rangers on the planet.

Throughout the years, Buzz had nightmares. He held onto the grief and guilt of causing the other Rangers to be stranded.

When you take risks, when you ignore those you lead, you run the risk of hurting those you lead. This hurt you cause will stick with you.

Know the limits of what you’re willing to live with.

6. Leaders may not know what their people are capable of:

Buzz had been given a robotic cat named SOX (Peter Sohn) by Alisha. SOX was there to help Buzz acclimate after his jumps into the future.

After Commander Burnside (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) told Buzz the missions would no longer continue, Buzz knew he had to do something. Buzz escapes with SOX but runs into trouble.

Burnside is locking down the facility. A guard is standing in his way. SOX projects a tranquilizing dart from his mouth. SOX neutralizes the guard with the tranquilizer. Buzz did not know SOX could do this.

Get to know your employees. Find out their skills, talents, and interests.

As you get to know your people, you will discover they have skills you would never have imagined. Help your team develop these skills and talents so they can be better and work with you better.

7. Plans often have multiple steps:

Buzz is discovered by Alisha Hawthorne’s granddaughter, Izzy Hawthorne (Keke Palmer). Izzy had a team of rag-tag wannabe rangers with her. These wannabes included Mo Morrison (Taika Waitti) and Darby Steel (Dale Soules).

The trio had a plan. They knew what it would take to take down the evil Zurg:

  1. Destroy Zurg’s ship to
  2. Destroy Zurg’s robots to
  3. Get to the Turnip

So, three things needed to be done to be successful.

That’s the way leadership goes. You need to do multiple tasks before you reach success.

Make sure you’re looking at the big picture. What steps need to be taken? Find out and then go do them.

8. Explain fully:

Trapped inside an old warehouse, Buzz told the junior patrol how to activate their camo suits. The junior patrol did as Buzz told them.

Heading towards the exit, they discovered Buzz had forgotten to tell them one crucial piece of information. The camo had a limited duration.

Uh oh! Their camo suits disengaged and they were sitting ducks!

Leaders have more information than the teams they lead. Leaders may hold this information close to the chest because the leader either forgets about it or believes the team doesn’t need to know the information.

Leaders’ failure to disclose or fully explain information leads to calamity many times. Ensure you’re explaining fully and giving your people the necessary information.

9. Izzy Hawthorne:

You don’t need to save us. You need to join us.

Buzz was a lone ranger. He didn’t like to be tied down to others.

When the junior patrol and Buzz became trapped in containment cones, Buzz thought he would be the team’s savior. Instead, Izzy recognized the team would be better if they were all in one containment cone.

Your team doesn’t need you to save them. Your team needs you to join them.

Learn how to partner with your team. Be there for them. Be there with them.

10. Good leaders often start as bad leaders:

Buzz tells the junior patrol his backstory. The truth was Buzz hadn’t been a good ranger.

He screwed up constantly. Yet, by the end, he was a good Space Ranger.

You may have stumbled at the beginning of your leadership journey. You may feel there’s no coming back.

There is hope for you, even if you were a bad leader.

Work towards becoming a better leader. Find a mentor who will show you the right steps and actions to take.

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