I have fond, fond memories of Sonic The Hedgehog. From the SEGA startup sound to the blur of blue on the screen as you raced through the levels, Sonic was the video game character with spunk and attitude.
Sonic was a stark contrast to the Mario and Luigi’s Nintendo offered up. He was fast, had attitude, and began to kick butt for Sega and their Genesis system.
Had the original Mario movie not bombed in the theater, I’m sure we would have had a live-action Sonic The Hedgehog movie well before now. Thankfully, they waited.
Sonic The Hedgehog’s new movie is a fantastic blend of nostalgia and newness, of adult and childlike humor… Dare I say Sonic The Hedgehog has become my favorite movie of 2020 so far? I think I will.
But Sonic The Hedgehog does more than entertain. Sonic The Hedgehog can help you become a better leader.
In today’s Reel Leadership article, we’re going to look at the leadership lessons in Sonic The Hedgehog. Get ready. It’s going to be fast and intense!
Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Sonic The Hedgehog
1. Tell your story:
Sonic The Hedgehog opens with Sonic The Hedgehog (Ben Schwartz) being pursued by Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey). They’re zipping and zooming through San Francisco.
This is all at the start of the movie. Sonic realizes he needs to back the story up. He has to tell his story.
We’re then warped back to the beginning days of Sonic. We learn he was sent from his home planet for protection. He’d been living in the small town of Green Hills, Montana. All the time he’d been there, he was longing to have friends and family but lacking both… It was a sad tale.
Then one day, he is forced to meet one of the police officers, Tom Wachowski (James Marsden). Life changed for Sonic from this point forward.
When you start at an organization, it’s your first day at the new place. It is not your first day on earth.
One of the things you can do to help you become better known and liked is to tell your story to your new coworkers. Help them to understand what got you to this point of your career and how your leadership has played out in other organizations.
If you’ve been in your organization for a long time and not shared your story, it is not too late. You can help your team know you better by rewinding and sharing your story.
2. Sonic The Hedgehog:
With power comes power-hungry bad guys.
Sonic had great power. With his power came people seeking to obtain his power and use it for nefarious means.
Power attracts not only those who you need to serve. Power also attracts people looking to abuse your power.
Watch out for those looking only to use you. They will see you have great power, great influence and they will desire to get you to use it for their desires.
Be better than this.
3. Great leaders help others see their leadership potential:
Sonic sees a slow turtle along the road. He saves the turtle from certain doom. Then he does something great leaders do.
Sonic took the turtle for the ride of his life. He zoomed around the town with him going super fast.
Sonic helped the turtle experience something outside of its bubble. He also helped the turtle see what was possible.
Great leaders do what Sonic did. They see someone who isn’t at their level and want to help them experience it.
By doing this, they not only give their team member a taste of something they never experienced before, but they also help them see what is possible.
Help your team members see what is possible. Give them a glimpse into your world and you will be surprised what comes of it.
4. Practice, practice, practice:
Tom had been accepted to a big city police force. The San Francisco police force to be exact.
He was nervous but knew he would have to move on from his small-town life. He also would have to give his resignation.
To prepare, he practiced his speech to Sgt. Sprinkles… a doughnut.
After I laughed, I realized how Tom was doing something smart leaders do. Smart leaders are always looking for ways to practice and get better. These leaders do this through Toastmasters, speaking to a mirror, and other actions.
To get better, you have to practice. Get over the uncomfortableness of practice and put in the hours.
5. Bad leaders are jerks:
Dr. Ivo Robotnik appeared in the small town after Sonic had caused a power outage. Robotnik was looking for the cause of the outage. In doing so, he was a jerk to those he had to interact with.
The first person Robotnik met was Major Bennington (Neal McDonough). Robotnik immediately began to talk down and belittle Bennington.
Why? Because Robotnik thought he was smarter than Bennington. He knew things others could only dream of. Because of this, he believed he was better than others and didn’t hide his belief.
In reality, Robotnik was a jerk… a big, fat meanie-head. No one really liked him. Not even his assistant Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub).
You may believe you know more than your team. You may know more than them. However, you have to be careful.
Great leaders treat people with respect. They try their hardest to not be a jerk.
Be wise. Hold your tongue. Speak with kindness. And treat your people how you would like to be treated.
6. The crazies aren’t always crazy:
Crazy Carl (Frank C. Turner) was considered crazy. He believed he had seen a blue blur. He called the blue blur the Blue Devil.
No one else in Green Hills believed Carl. They all thought he was crazy. Hence, the moniker of Crazy Carl.
Great leaders will have some off the wall ideas. These are ideas no one has ever thought of before or thought could be possible.
Know the crazy ones aren’t always crazy. They see things others don’t see. They could be the next, great leader.
7. You don’t have to put up with abuse:
Robotnik continued with his verbal abuse. He had called Tom up and threatened him.
Do you know what Tom did? Tom chose to hang up the phone and not put up with Robotnik’s abuse. He chose to end the verbal tirade.
There’s two things you can take away from this part of Sonic The Hedgehog. The first is this: You don’t have to put up with abuse.
If someone on your team is verbally abusing you or your team members, get them out of there. Let them know it is unacceptable.
The second leadership lesson to take away from this Sonic The Hedgehog moment is that those you lead don’t have to put up with your abuse. If you’re a bad leader and are verbally abusing and threatening your team, cut it out. You are better than this. Your team deserves better than this. Your team doesn’t have to put up with it.
You will lose team members if you’re verbally abusive or threatening others all of the time. It is not right and you have to stop it.
8. Sonic The Hedgehog:
Sure… they could call anybody but they call you.
Tom often felt like a babysit in Green Hills. The town was small and the calls seemed inconsequential. This made Tom feel like his role in the town wasn’t important.
Sonic reminded Tom of something. The citizens of Green Hills could call anybody. They don’t. They choose to call him.
You may think the organization you’re leading is too small or inconsequential. You may think you’re better than this.
Remember this: There are people who rely on you. They’re calling on you. They love and respect you.
Your people could call on anyone. They choose to call on you.
9. Look for needs to fill
JoJo (Melody Nosipho Niemann) is Maddie Wachowski’s (Tika Sumpter) niece (Maddie is Tom’s wife). JoJo stumbled upon Sonic and saw something distressing.
Sonic’s shoes were worn through. His feet were hurting because of this. JoJo saw a need. She couldn’t sit by at this point.
JoJo went to her bedroom and returned with a special present. She had a pair of red Pumas to give to Sonic.
This was JoJo’s way of filling a need.
Leaders see needs all of the time. From their team members to their customers to their vendors… There are needs all around us.
The question is are you looking to fill these needs? When you do, you create strong loyalty.
Be a leader who fills needs.
10. Leaders can minimize their impact:
Sonic thanked Tom for all he had done for him. Tom didn’t think he had done much. Sonic changed his mind.
Sonic helped Tom realize he did a lot more than he thought. Tom had saved Sonic’s life. Tom had helped Sonic fulfill most of his bucket list. And Tom had become a friend to Sonic.
Tom minimized this. Sonic emphasized this.
What are you minimizing in your leadership position that others would emphasize? You’re making an impact. Day in, day out, you are doing good.
Make sure you’re not minimizing the big impact you’re making. You are. You need to realize this.
11. Sonic The Hedgehog:
This is my power. I’m not using it to run away now. I’m using it to protect my friends.
Sonic had the opportunity to run away. He could have used his golden rings to transport himself to another planet. He chose not to.
Instead, Sonic chose to stay and fight for his friends. He would use his power to defend those that couldn’t defend themselves.
Leaders have an immense amount of power. Their influence goes beyond the average person. What a leader does with their power will determine how they are remembered.
Great leaders know they can’t abuse their power. They also know they can’t run from problems. What great leaders do is help their team members by using their power.
Use your power to help your team members. You were given your power for a reason. Use it rightly.
12. Tom Wachowski:
Now all I want to do is spend the rest of my life with people I care about.
Tom realizes something by the end of Sonic The Hedgehog. He had been wanting to move to a big city and have a big impact. This was what success looked like to him. It wasn’t what success truly was.
Tom realized he saw success in the wrong light. Success isn’t moving to a higher position or to a bigger city. Success is spending time with your loved ones.
How do you view success? Does success look like moving up the corporate ladder? Or does success look like spending time with those you love and care about?
I’ll take number 2 all day, every day. You can’t replace your loved ones. Be there for them. Spend time with them. Let them know you love them.