Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen is the 2013 movie that started the Fallen series with Gerard Butler. Additional entries in this film series are: London Has Fallen and Angel Has Fallen.

Mike Banning is the hero of these stories. He has to frequently rescue the President of the United States or other governmental officials. Through it all, he comes out on top.

Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, and Aaron Eckhart in Olympus Has Fallen promo image

In this first movie, Banning is a disgraced Secret Service agent. His failure? Letting President Ben Asher’s (Aaron Eckhart) wife, Margaret (Ashley Judd), die after a car accident.

Banning had a choice. He could save the President’s wife or he could save the President. Being a Secret Service agent, he had to choose the President.

His choice changed the trajectory of his career. It also allowed him to become the hero in Olympus Has Fallen.

Follow along in today’s Reel Leadership article as we look at the leadership lessons in Olympus Has Fallen and how you can apply those to your life and leadership.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Olympus Has Fallen

1. Mike Banning:

Come on, Ben. You’re telegraphing.

Olympus Has Fallen opens with Mike Banning and President Asher sparring. They’re hitting one another and honing their skills.

Banning notices something. He’s able to hit Asher on a regular basis. He sees what Asher is doing.

Asher is telegraphing his next moves. Banning can take advantage of this because he knows what is coming.

Are you telegraphing your next moves to your competition? Can they see what is coming next from your organization?

You have to be aware of how much you’re telegraphing your next moves. You can give away the farm by being too transparent with the outside world.

Make sure you’re not giving away your hand.

2. Leaders have to do things they don’t like:

Asher had a fundraising event he had to go to. He hated to go to these things. He believed they were a waste of time.

Despite his feelings about the fundraiser, he knew he had a duty as the President. He needed to be there.

So, he did what leaders do. He put aside his feelings and went.

There are going to be things you don’t want to do as a leader. You’re going to feel the pull to do something else, maybe something that is more gratifying to you.

However, leaders know they have to put their feelings and desires aside for a time. They need to do what needs to be done.

You will have to do things you don’t like. Go, do them, get them out of the way.

3. People are listening when you think they’re not:

On their way to the fundraiser, Margaret is talking to Ben. She sees him deep in thought and working on a portable device. She believes he’s not listening.

To test this theory, she mentions how she should shave her head. Ben agrees. Margaret has her answer… He’s not listening.

Later on, we discover Ben had been listening. He had heard Margaret talk about shaving her head.

You may talk to your team and feel like you’re talking to a brick wall. No one is listening… Right?

You’d be wrong. People listen in different ways. For me, I may play with thinking putty or fiddle with my wedding ring. I’m listening but I’m also doing something else.

Your team members are listening too. They are hearing what you say.

Don’t discount your team members. Believe they can hear what you’re saying.

4. Breaking protocol can cost you:

A delegation from South Korea is visiting the White House when a violent attack takes place. The Secret Service is being decimated and President Asher has a choice to make.

Asher asks Mr. Lee Tao Woo (Keong Sim) and his delegation to join him in the White House bunker. He wanted to keep the visiting delegation safe.

His breaking of protocol cost him and those he cared about deeply.

There were members of Mr. Lee’s delegation looking for revenge. When they were able to enter the bunker, they began an assault on the surviving members of the White House.

Your organization has established protocols for a reason. It may be to keep business secrets safe, protect board members, or a plethora of other reasons.

Know protocol isn’t there to limit you. Protocols are put into place to help keep the organization running in the toughest of times.

5. You will see other leaders fall:

Banning wasn’t working with the Secret Service at the time of the White House attack. He was working nearby, though.

As he saw the attack happen, he knew he had to take action. He grabbed his equipment and ran towards the White House.

There, he saw a massacre. People he knew and cared about were slaughtered by the invading party. People were still dying.

Banning was able to make it to the White House steps. There, he saw another Secret Service agent bleeding out. He saw another person fall.

You won’t see bodies hit the floor like Banning did. You will, however, see other leaders fall during your tenure.

These failures may be moral failures such as affairs or improper business dealings. They might be a mental breakdown. Or even a leader’s suicide.

You lead enough, you will see leaders fall. Be aware of this.

6. Time matters:

The time it took for Kang (Rick Yune) and his people to take down the White House was 13 minutes. The time it takes the Secret Service to defend the White House? Fifteen minutes.

A matter of 2 minutes is all it took for one of the most protected buildings to fall.

Two minutes doesn’t seem like a long time. Yet so much can happen in a short span of time.

This means time matters. Be aware of the time your actions take, how they impact your organization, and what it takes to react to actions from the outside world.

Time matters.

7. President Benjamin Asher:

What’s the going rate for souls?

Asher discovered there was a traitor amongst his ranks. Forbes (Dylan McDermott) was a Secret Service agent. He was also a traitor.

He partnered with Kang to help take down the White House. His trusted status gained him access where others couldn’t.

Asher could hardly believe Forbes would turn on him and the United States. He confronted the traitor with a pointed question: What’s the going rate for souls?

You have to ask yourself this question regularly. I think we all need to think about what we’re selling ourselves for.

What are your time, energy, and effort worth?

8. Great leaders step up:

With Asher and the other heads of government in the White House bunker, Speaker Of The House Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) had to step in to fill the vacant leadership spot of President. He didn’t have a choice. Still, he stepped up to fill the role.

Great leaders know things will happen that can greatly change the scope of their responsibilities. When these things happen, they know they have to step up.

Watch for opportunities to step up in your organization. Look for things that you can do that will make a difference.

These are the things leaders do. Do them.

9. Form meaningful relationships:

Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs (Angela Bassett) was meeting with the remaining military heads. When they discovered Banning had made his way into the White House, there were people in the meeting that questioned Banning’s motives and intentions.

Jacobs knew Banning. They had formed a close relationship working together. She knew him.

Jacobs stood up for Banning when the tough questioning began. She believed in him. She knew he was going to do what needed to be done.

Had Banning not formed a meaningful relationship with Jacobs, his story could have played out differently.

Our story largely depends on the relationships we form. The people we know can do a whole host of things. They can:

  • Give you credibility
  • Offer you an opportunity
  • Guide you in the right direction
  • Stand up for you

Form meaningful relationships. These relationships will get you further than any degree or education.

10. Mike Banning:

I’m here. Use me.

Banning let the remaining military powers know he was available. He desired to be used. He knew he could be used.

This is why he offered himself up. He let those in power know he was willing to be used.

To step up to the next level, you will have to let those above you know you’re there. You will also have to let them know you’re willing to be used.

Let those in higher leadership than you know you’re ready and willing. Let them know you’re ready to go to bat for the organization.

11. Great leaders make others feel like they’re a part of something bigger:

The President’s son Connor (Finley Jacobsen) was also stuck in the White House. Banning was able to find him and get him to safety.

In the process of getting him out of the White House, Banning did something most wouldn’t even think of. Banning gave Connor a badge and told him he was now part of something bigger.

Great leaders make sure those they’re leader feel like they’re a part of something bigger. They help them to understand it’s not a one-man show.

Be a leader who helps those they lead feel like they actually matter… Because they do.

12. Speaker Of The House Allan Trumbull:

We are never stronger than when we are tested.

Trumbull knew a secret. Our greatest moments don’t come in times of ease and comfort. Our greatest moments come when we are tested.

The nation in Olympus Has Fallen was tested. They were thrown into turmoil and chaos. This was also the time for them to be stronger than they ever could be.

You will be stronger than you thought you could be when you are tested. You will discover an inner strength you didn’t know you had.

Be ready for your time of testing. It’ll pull out of you just how strong you are.

13. Forbes:

I lost my way.

Shortly before Forbes died, he admitted that he had lost his way. He had let something else catch his eye and it killed him.

You have to be wary of chasing shiny objects or the latest leadership trends. These things can make you lose your way.

When a leader loses his way, it is dangerous… To himself. To the organization. And to those around him.

Be cautious. Make sure you’re staying on track. Don’t lose your way.

14. There is a time to disobey authority:

General Edward Clegg (Robert Foster) had commanded Banning to stand down. He was to no longer engage the enemy.

Well, you know, Banning knew he couldn’t stand down. So, he disobeyed orders. He continued his fight.

Banning’s disobeying the authority above him was appropriate. He was on-site, in the heat of battle, and knew what had to be done.

His disobedience was right.

There will be times when you have to disobey a leader over you or a team member will have to disobey your direct commands. Be willing to look at the situation. Determine whether or not it was the right thing to do.

There will be times when it is okay to have your orders disobeyed or to disobey orders yourself.

Question: Have you seen Olympus Has Fallen? If you have, what leadership lessons from Olympus Has Fallen did you take away from your movie-going experience? If you haven’t seen the movie, what Reel Leadership lessons from Olympus Has Fallen did you take away? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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