Quotes And Leadership Lessons From The Creator

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.

The Creator is a film about artificial intelligence (AI) and its effect on humanity. In this film, humans rage against the AI robots that have been created. They believe they’re a threat to humanity…

After the AI dropped a nuclear bomb on Los Angeles.

The war rages as humanity seeks a way to track down and find the architect behind the artificial intelligence, Nirmata. We see characters progress, change, and evolve as their mission and vision are challenged.

The Creator - Two people standing in front of a futuristic background. One person is an AI robot

The Creator couldn’t have come out at a better time as the heated battle of whether or not AI is a good thing for humanity rages on. Tools such as ChatGPT, MagAI, and others have changed the landscape of writing and art creation. 

Will we see a world similar to that in The Creator? I doubt it, but this film gives us the insight to think about those topics and more, including leadership. Let’s dig into the leadership lessons from this movie.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From The Creator

1. Your people are real people:

Joshua (John David Washington) is a military operative who had been roped back into the hunt for Nirmata. To do this, he had to enter into a relationship with Maya (Gemma Chan). They believed her to be the key to finding this elusive person.

As the military storms the AI safe haven Joshua had infiltrated, one of the soldiers is injured. Joshua recognizes him and wonders why they attacked. He was so close to discovering the location of Nirmata.

Joshua grabs the walkie-talkie from the soldier. He begins to communicate with the person in charge. Maya walks in on him, shocked to hear he’s working with the military again.

An angry conversation ensues when Maya tells Joshua that the AI robots are her family. They’re not just programmed robots. They’re something more.

While the AI robots are not human, I saw a direct correlation between how high-level leadership often treats their employees as numbers, not people.

This is an excellent reminder that the people you lead, the people working for you, are not just numbers. They are people. They have a family, relationships, hopes, and dreams.

Treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve.

2. Our actions have consequences:

The Creator shows us that Joshua truly cared for Maya. However, his actions have a fatal consequence for her.

The argument led to Maya leaving the safety of their house. She goes to leave with the other AI lifeforms. 

That’s when the military strikes from their NOMAD ship. Maya is caught in the blast and thought to be killed.

Joshua’s actions had a major impact on someone he cared for.

Think about the actions you take. Who do they affect?

Probably more people than you think.

Your actions can have an impact on all of your employees, their families, your customers or vendors, their families, and on and on and on the impact goes. 

Think before you act. Consider how wide and far the consequences of your actions go.

3. Motivations matter:

With Maya dead, Joshua wasn’t interested in hunting down the Creator. He wanted to live out his life in peace. 

Five years later, General Andrews (Ralph Ineson) and Colonel Howell (Allison Janney) approach him about a mission to destroy a weapon developed by Nirmata. That weapon is called Alpha O. This weapon could destroy NOMAD and bring the humans to their knees.

Joshua still had no interest in helping them again. He refused. Until the General and Colonel showed him a video of Maya, seemingly alive. This brought him back into the fight, though his motivation became more about finding Maya than genuinely helping the military.

Do you have unmotivated employees? Do you think they don’t care about the mission or vision of the organization? 

I believe you haven’t found what motivates them. 

By discovering their motivations, you can help them become energized for their work. Find what motivates them. Then, connect it to the mission and vision of the organization. Before you know it, you’ll have super employees.

4. Watch for tells:

Captain Cotton (Michael Esper) and a military team enter an AI safehold. He wants information as to where Nirmata is. He becomes agitated and picks up a family dog. Threatening it, he demands to know where the entrance to the AI lab is.

A little girl is terrified. She gets up. No one but Joshua notices that she semi-points in a specific direction.

Joshua makes his way to where the girl motioned. He looks around. Turning a statue, the entry to the lab opens.

The little girl had a tell. Only the person paying attention noticed. This led to the discovery they were looking for.

Are you paying attention like Joshua did? Are you looking for what people are secretly saying?

The more you do, the more you’ll begin to notice the tells of people. It’s their subtle way of telling you the truth.

Be on the lookout. A person’s tell can help you understand things that are happening or brewing beneath the surface.

5. Joshua:

Look at me. You’re not dead.

Shipley (Robbie Tann) was a military soldier. He was found in a field by Joshua, however he was severely injured.

Joshua reassured him that he wasn’t dead. He still had life in him. He had to keep moving or he would be dead.

What kind of encouragement do your team members need? They need you to help them get through the challenges of their workdays and the office.

Give them the encouragement they need. Let them know that what they’re doing matters. Let them know that they’re not work zombies. Let them know they have value.

6. Joshua:

Anyone have fun?

Joshua had found Alpha O, whom he renames Alphie (Madeleine Yuna Voyles). She’s an AI construct and could be the key to finding Maya. 

The military comes after the duo. They want Alphie destroyed as she’s a significant threat to their military ship. 

Alphie and Joshua flee the military. They have to keep moving and convince a family with five kids to give them a ride. The family is stopped by a military barricade where Alphie powers down all the electronics. The family and Joshua and Alphie flee.

It’s a car chase that is scary yet exhilarating. 

After the car chase, Joshua asks the kids if they had fun. One of the kids raised their hands.

Doing business is a lot like this car chase. There’s a lot of danger, of risk. There’s also a lot of fun if you’re looking for it.

Learn how to have fun even during the scary times. Then, help your team members see the fun in it as well.

7. You don’t always know the people you’re working with:

June, a military operative who had been a part of the operation that killed Maya, had been shot. She then told Joshua the truth about Maya.

Maya wasn’t an innocent person. Maya was the mysterious Nirmata. 


Joshua had hidden things from Maya. Maya had hidden something from Joshua. Neither truly knew each other.

The same happens in business. We think we know the people we work with. We hear stories about their families, hobbies, and more.

Only we later discover they’re not who they say they are.

What do you do at this point? I say you do your best to recover the working relationship. Try to understand why they said or did what they did. You may discover they had a valid reason for their actions.

8. Look for alternatives:

Alphie had been captured and taken from Joshua. Joshua hunts her down and discovers her.

He finds her sleeping on an AI robot. Wanting to free her, Joshua pulls his gun. He’s ready to cap the robot.

Then, he thinks twice about his actions. He knows his actions would tell Alphie robots were bad.

Instead of shooting the robot, Joshua puts the AI robot into standby mode. The robot is still alive but not active.

Joshua saw an alternative way to rescue Alphie. How often do you look for alternative solutions to situations?

There’s always more than one way to accomplish a mission. Look at all the options.

You will discover there are better ways to get to the finish line. Take the better way.

9. Joshua:

I was wrong. Can you forgive me?

Joshua was able to discover the comatose body of Maya. She’d been kept alive by the AI robots because they had been given a directive not to hurt a human.

Seeing her, Joshua apologizes. He tells her how sorry he is. How he wishes he could make up for what he did.

Then, he does what he has to do. He frees her from her mortal body and disconnects the life support.

When a leader does something wrong, their title doesn’t give them cart blanche to get away with it. Instead, a leader has the responsibility to apologize for their poor decisions and actions.

Ask for forgiveness. Repent. Tell people you’re sorry when an action doesn’t work out right.

Not only will you feel better, you will gain the respect of those you lead.

10. Leaders need to be able to change their mindset:

Joshua had hunted down AI beings. He believed they were bad. What he discovers is that they weren’t bad. There was a mistake made in the coding that allowed for the launching of the nuclear bomb.

Throughout the movie, we see Joshua’s mindset shift. He goes from hating AI beings to learning to trust them.

When was the last time your mindset was changed? Has it been a while? It’s probably time for you to reexamine your mindset, including how you view leadership.

A changing mindset often shows signs that you’re growing. You’ve taken in new information, processed it, and seen things in a new light.

Don’t hold onto a mindset that is incorrect. Be willing to change and grow and adapt.


Yesterday I completed my 7th half marathon. I run not for myself but to help change the lives of children without access to clean water. 

For every $50 raised, a child gets clean water. I want to ask you, the readers of my blog, that if you get value from it to consider donating something to change the lives of the most vulnerable.

If you’re so moved, you can give through my Team World Vision donation page.

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