Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Men In Black: International

For over 21 years, Men In Black has brought entertainment to the big screen. The original 3 Men In Black movies starred Will Smith as Agent J and Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K.

With Men In Black: International, you will not see the return of the two original agents we’d all fallen in love with. Instead, you’re treated to two new agents who do a great job of continuing the Men In Black legacy.

Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth as Agent M and Agent H in Men In Black: International

Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth in Men In Black: International

The first new agent you will meet is Agent M (Tessa Thompson who portrayed Valkarie in Thor: Ragnarok). The next agent is her partner, Agent H (Chris Hemsworth).

This new pair of agents create a fun, laughable experience as they are seeking the truth behind the murder of the alien Vungus (Kayvan Novak). Their adventures take them around the world and back to the Men In Black headquarters where things go crazy.

But that’s not why you’re here. You don’t care about the plot. What you care about are the Reel Leadership lessons in Men In Black: International. Don’t worry, they’re here. And you’re going to read about them in just a minute.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Men In Black: International

1. People see more than you realize:

Molly, who later becomes Agent M, saw her parents talking to two Men In Black agents. She saw the agents mindwipe her parents to make them forget about the alien creature they had seen.

The Men In Black agents believed no one else witnessed this. They were wrong. The young Molly saw their actions and began a lifelong pursuit of finding them.

You have eyes on you constantly. Your team members are watching you. Your organization is watching you. And the world at large is watching you.

They are seeing private parts of your life and personality you may believe are hidden. They are not.

Know people are watching. They’re seeing. They’re judging you by the way your private life aligns with your public life.

2. You’re not as smooth as you think you are:

After 20 years of searching, Molly finally found the Men In Black headquarters. She tracked a unit back there and thought she was smooth.

Molly walked into the headquarters. She tried to walk calmly, confidently, like she belonged. Except she didn’t.

She was quickly recognized as someone who wasn’t meant to be there. The alarms were sounded. And she was apprehended.

I won’t deny, Molly was good. She seemed to play the part. But something wasn’t right.

You may feel like you’re smooth. Like you’re going to get away with something you shouldn’t.

Be careful of this line of thought. You’re not as smooth as you think you are. You’re going to get caught one of these days.

3. Agent O (Emma Thompson)

You really think a black suit is going to solve all your problems?

The only goal in Molly’s life was to become a Man In Black. She believed this would solve her problems.

When she talked with Agent O, Agent O asked Molly a great question. Do you think this will solve your problems?

We are lulled into the belief that becoming a leader or growing an organization or being successful will solve all of our problems. We’re wrong when we think this way.

Becoming a success, becoming a leader, growing an organization… none of these fix the root of our problems. It only masks them and makes us think we’ve overcome our problems.

Don’t use your success to mask life’s problems.

4. Know what makes you a great leader:

Molly knew what would make her a good Men In Black agent. She had no family, no friends, no pets.

There was nothing to hold her down to a specific location. Nothing to tie her down to another person.

This would make Molly a great Men In Black agent.

Do you know what makes you a great leader? You need to know yourself to answer this question.

Everyone will have slightly different answers. But everyone should know what makes them a great leader.

For me, I believe I lead well because:

  • I care about others
  • I’m willing to learn and grow
  • I believe failure is an option
  • I’m open to letting others ideas be heard
  • I don’t care about a title
  • I’m willing to serve

These are a few things that help me lead well. What makes you a great leader?

5. Agent M:

It’s a fine line between club casual and saddest man on earth.

Agent M and Agent H went to a club to greet a visiting alien dignitary. Agent H chose to unbutton his dress shirt almost down to his belly button. He looked ridiculous.

Had Agent H chosen to unbutton one or two buttons, he would have a great look. The look he wound up with made the theater burst out in laughter.

The line between what looked good and what looked bad was small. One or two buttons…

There’s also a fine line between a good leader and a bad leader. It can be easy to cross the line from a good leader to bad leader.

Be cautious as you lead. Make sure you’re not crossing the line.

6. Vungus:

I need to know if I can trust you.

Vungus, the visiting alien dignitary, had been shot and was dying. He was visiting earth to deliver a package to the Men In Black. Yet he wasn’t sure who he could trust.

Agent H was no longer the man he once knew. Agent High T (Liam Neeson) wasn’t nearby. And there was a mole within the Men In Black.

Who could Vungus trust? He needed to know if Agent M was trustworthy.

Vungus had a trust issue. He didn’t know who to trust. Like Vungus, there are many on your team who have trust issues as well.

They’ve been burned by bad leaders. They don’t know who to trust because of office politics, lies, and games.

Be a leader people can trust. They need someone they can count on. You can be that person.

7. People will notice if you’ve changed:

Agent H had changed. He was once a great agent for the Men In Black. Now, he was a shell of himself.

Vungus noticed this. He was now leery of Agent H because he had changed so much it was noticeable.

People notice if you’ve changed as a leader. They will notice if you no longer care for them or the organization.

They can tell this because of your attitude or how you arrive and leave the office. Maybe it’s how you treat others.

Know people can tell if you’ve changed. They may not verbalize it but they can tell.

8. Leaders trust their gut:

Agent H and Agent M had obtained an alien bike. This alien bike could be described as a motorcycle on steroids. It was pretty sweet!

The alien bike had a red button on it. Neither H nor M knew what the red button was. They had their suspicions, though.

Agent H said his gut told him the red button was hyperdrive. Agent M wasn’t sure. She thought it was something bad.

This didn’t stop Agent H. He trusted his gut. He pressed the button. And they were thrust into hyperdrive!

His gut was right. He knew he had to go with what he believed.

You will not always know the right thing to do. However, you will often have a gut feeling of what you should do.

If there’s nothing else to guide you, listen to your gut. Your gut will often guide you in the right direction because of information being internally processed that you don’t realize.

9. Leaders need to be told the truth (and they need to listen):

Eventually, Agent H discovered Agent M had been given a device by Vungus. He wondered why Vungus didn’t trust him. They’d been such good friends.

This is when Agent M did the right thing and told Agent H the truth. Vungus didn’t trust Agent H because of the changes he saw in him.

Hearing this hurt Agent H. He didn’t understand how this could be true. Yet hearing this had an impact on Agent H.

Hearing the truth from someone you lead can be hard. Still, we need to hear the truth.

Listen when people tell you hard to hear things. You have to be willing to open yourself up to the painful truth. Through hearing the truth, you can improve your leadership and encourage your team.

10. Pawny (Kumail Nanjiani):

That kind of pressure is not constructive.

Pawny was the last remaining survivor of his species. He was part of an alien race that resembled chess pieces. With his queen felled, he was ready to end his life.

Then Agent H and M talked him down. He committed to serve his new queen, Agent M.

Agent M told Pawny during an intense moment that it was all on him. He could be the savior.

This pressure was too much. Pawny didn’t know how or if he could do this. He felt overwhelmed.

You may have confidence in your team members. You may believe they can go above and beyond. But if they don’t have the same faith in themselves, it can be damaging to their performance.

Be aware of your team and how they respond to pressure. You may have to find another way to motivate your team member.

11. Your past impacts your future:

When Agent M was young, she helped the Tarantian alien escape from the Men In Black. She didn’t know it then but this act of kindness would come back to save her life.

Towards the end of Men In Black: International, Agent H and M were battling Riza (Rebecca Ferguson), a deadly three-armed alien. Riza had an alien bodyguard that looked like Beast from the X-Men.

Guess who the bodyguard was? He was the grown-up version of the alien Agent M had saved. He actions in the past impacted her future.

It may be too late to go back and change some of the things you have done. Your past is your past. Your actions in the past will affect your future.

The good news is, you still have a lot of future. Your present will become your past. This means you can work on creating good things that can positively impact your future.

12. Plans can go wrong and you can still succeed:

Agent M and H went into a battle with Riza with a plan to get the weapon back from her. The plan to get the alien weapon back from Riza went sideways.

Do you know what happened? The two agents were still able to succeed in getting the weapon back. Their failed plan had to be modified but it still was successful.

You will have many plans that will go wrong. They won’t turn out the way you expected them to. You’ll be disappointed and may be tempted to quit.


Failed plans don’t mean a thing other than you need to create a new plan. Keep pushing forward. You can create something new that will succeed.

13. Even the weakest can step into a leadership role:

Pawny believed he was an unimportant piece. Pawns, after all, are expendable chess pieces. He believed he would never amount to much.

How wrong he was!

In the end, Pawny helped save Agent M. He became something more than a Pawn. He became a hero.

You may believe you’re the least likely person to become a leader. You may feel there’s no way you could do something great.

If you think this way, stop thinking it! You’re wrong!

You can develop your leadership skills. You can take baby steps to grow your abilities. Or you can make a giant leap like Pawny and step into a leadership position.

You have the innate skills within you. You only have to nurture them to bring them out.

14. Agent O:

There’s a price.

As Men In Black: International wrapped up, Agent O and Agent M had a talk. Agent O told Agent M there was a price to being an agent.

Agent M realized this. She wanted to know how everything worked. When she discovered this, she discovered the cost.

There’s a price to become a leader.

Leadership requires you to pay a price. You will have to give up some of your freedom to answer questions from those you lead. Or you will have to spend time away from loved ones as business requires your attention.

Be aware there is a price to pay. Are you willing to pay it? And, the better question, what price are you willing to pay?

Question: If you’ve watched Men In Black: International, what leadership lessons did you take away from the movie? If you haven’t seen the movie, what Reel Leadership lessons from Men In Black: International that I shared resonated with you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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