Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

A Reel Leadership Article

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I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to see the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem movie. My mind wandered to “Oh great, another reboot… and the animation looks sloppy.” 

Other than my love for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there wasn’t much desire to see this new film. Yet, I went because of Reel Leadership. I had to see the latest movie so I could share the leadership lessons found in the film.

I’m glad I did. This reboot was done well and shone as a great example of doing a reboot well.

Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo from the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Movie: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem brings us all of our well-known and loved Ninja Turtles. With directors Jeff Rowe and Kyler Spears and writers Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Jeff Rowe, we get Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu), Donatello (Micah Abbey), Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.), and Raphael (Brady Noon). Along with the Ninja Turtles, we get Splinter (Jackie Chan). Toss in the classic villains Baxter Stockman (Giancarlo Esposito), Rocksteady (John Cena), Bebop (Seth Rogen), Leatherhead (Rose Byrne), Superfly (a Baxter Stockman creation voiced by Ice Cube), Mondo Gecko (Paul Rudd), Ray Fillet (Post Malone), and Genghis Frog (Hannibal Buress).

I may have been a 40+ year old guy geeking out when all the villains appeared on the big screen. I still remember playing with each and every one of those action figures. These were my youth, and I got to see a new version of them on the big screen.

Not only did I get to geek out, but I also got to watch a fantastic movie and discover the latest leadership lessons from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. It’s time to enter the great animated world of the Ninja Turtles’ leadership lessons.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

1. Great leaders don’t allow hurt to come to their people:

Baxter Stockman was a scientist for the TCRI organization (Techno Cosmic Research Institute). They were developing advanced scientific methods that some would call questionable.

Stockman did. Especially after creating a mutant fly.

What did TCRI want to use the fly for? They wanted to use it as a weapon. Stockman said no and fled the facility. He went into hiding!

Organizations, sadly, tend to use people. They get their best work, chew them up, and spit them out.

I know your organization would never do this, but what happens if you are in an organization that begins to work in this manner?

You, as the leader, have to protect your people. You can’t let them be abused, misused, or pushed aside.

Protect your people.

2. Discover the unique skills of your people:

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles all had unique skills. Each turtle knew how to command a powerful ninja weapon. 

Donatello had his bo staff. Leonardo was the master of the katana. Michaelangelo spun nunchucks like no other. And Raphael had impressive control over his sais.

The turtles didn’t try to step into the skills of the other turtles. No, they focused on theirs. They honed their skills so they could use their weapons well.

Your team they have unique skills. There may be someone on your team who can crunch numbers well. Then there’s someone who can code and program. Or there’s the person who has people skills and can calm the angriest customer.

Let your team members hone their skills and use them. Let them become experts of their craft. 

You’ll soon discover they are working in their sweet spot, doing the best work possible, and getting more done than ever before. 

3. Leonardo:

We got a job to do.

Splinter gave the Ninja Turtles a job to do. They were to go out into the city in secret and gather groceries. 

Being the group leader, Leonardo knew it was his duty to remind the rest of the Ninja Turtles they had a job to do. They needed to get the groceries and head back to the sewers.

It’s not fun, but sometimes the job of a leader is to remind the team that they have a job to do. You can help your team focus and redirect their energy back toward the task at hand.

Don’t get angry or upset. Just redirect.

4. Master Splinter:

Don’t use that word that way.

The Ninja Turtles had gone on a grocery run. Except they did more than get groceries. They went to a movie and explored the city. 

Leonardo told Master Splinter what happened. Michaelangelo said Leo ratted them out. Master Splinter took offense to the word. Why? Because he was a giant mutant rat.

We have to be cautious of the words that we use with others. Certain things and phrases can offend those we lead.

Be aware of the cultural, ethnic, and other differences among your people. There are proper terms you can use and then there are those you can’t.

Be aware and be kind. Also, help others understand this.

5. Remind others of what has come before:

April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri) had been struck in her helmet by one of the Ninja Turtles’ throwing stars. She began to confront them when a no-gooder stole her moped. 

The Ninja Turtles tracked the thief to a car garage. They engaged in a battle where the Ninja Turtles emerged victorious. However, during the battle, April was knocked into a car. Something hilarious happened when this occurred.

The radio kicked on. A beat began to blast through the stereo. It was the Vanilla Ice song Ninja Rap from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II. The song was a fun callback to a great movie.

There are things that have happened in your organization that need to be remembered. Share those events with your team.

It could have been a successful merger, an action by a coworker, or a company turnaround. When we remind people of where we’ve come from, we encourage them where they can go.

6. Donatello:

Oh, who are we?

April O’Neil gets the Ninja Turtles to Eastman High (This is a reference to one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creators, Kevin Eastman. There’s also a reference to the other creator Peter Laird in one building being called The Laird). There, Michaelangelo sees a signup for improv comedy.

He becomes ecstatic. He’s longed to perform comedy. This could be his chance. 

The signup list asked for their first and last names. They didn’t have a last name. They began to wonder who they were.

Every organization needs to ask this question. Every organization needs to know who they are.

This means knowing what they stand for. Understanding what they do and why they do it.

Leaders help their organizations understand this. They work through their history, their present, and their possible future to get a grasp of who they are.

7. Michaelangelo:

It’s infiltrated my every thought.

The Ninja Turtles were captured by Cynthia Utrom (Maya Rudolph). She led TCRI. Upon capturing the Ninja Turtles, she ordered that they be milked.

Leonardo told the other Ninja Turtles to think happy thoughts. Michaelangelo couldn’t. All he could focus on was the fact that they were being milked and Master Splinter was right.

Even the thought of pizza made Michaelangelo think of being milked. While pizza was the Ninja Turtles’ favorite food, it contained cheese. Cheese was made of milk. And they were being milked!

Staying focused can be difficult. The troubles around us can infiltrate our every thought. Even the encouragement of someone we respect can’t get our minds off of these invasive thoughts.

We have to work hard at overcoming the negative thoughts we think. We have to try different tactics such as distraction or distancing ourselves.

Don’t let those negative thoughts infiltrate your mind for long.

8. Bad leaders will be confronted:

Superfly wasn’t a good leader. He wanted revenge for the way humans had treated him. This was why he gathered all the other mutants. They would be an unstoppable force.

The Ninja Turtles helped those other mutants realize Superfly was leading them down the wrong path. The other mutants began to stand up to Superfly. They told him they didn’t want to kill humans. 

This infuriated Superfly, much like it infuriates any bad leader when they’re confronted for poor performance or improper treatment of their employees. 

If you’re not leading well, don’t be surprised if someone on your team steps up and confronts you. This is your warning. Others will step up if you don’t listen to the first person.

Confrontation isn’t bad. Confrontation will help you correct your negative behavior.

9. The truth will set you free:

April O’Neil shared through a newscast the truth about the Ninja Turtles. She let the public know that they were not the bad guys. They were helping New Yorkers to fight the evil mutant.

Throughout the movie, the mutants are told humans are evil. They wanted to kill them. That was true to a point, because they didn’t understand the mutants.

The humans were set free once they realized the mutants weren’t a threat. They joined forces and began to help the Ninja Turtles and other mutants.

The truth set them free. The truth will set you and your team free, too.

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