Quotes And Leadership Lessons From The Equalizer 3

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.

Denzel Washington returns for his third outing as Robert McCall. Robert is a former special agent who has come out of retirement to fight the thugs threatening his peaceful residence in Southern Italy.

He’s a gentle man with a brutal side that is unleashed whenever he or someone he cares about is threatened. As Vincent Quaranta (Andrea Scarduzio) and his brother Marco (Andrea Dodero) begin to terrorize the city he now wants to call home, he can’t take it anymore. He unleashes his own brand of violence as he attempts to clean out the corruption.

Denzel Washington in The Equalizer 3 movie. He's sitting in a chair, held captive by mobsters.

The Equalizer 3 is the third film in this action-packed series. You can find the first two films here. The good thing is you don’t have to watch the previous films to understand what’s happening in part three. The movie could stand by itself.

Once you’ve caught up and watched The Equalizer 3, you’re ready to catch all of the Reel Leadership lessons in this great film. Now, let’s dissect this film to see what leadership lessons you can take away!


Quotes And Leadership Lessons From The Equalizer 3

1. Lorenzo Vitale (Bruno Bilotta):

Wait here.

Lorenzo pulled into his sprawling vineyard. There, he sees the mass destruction caused by Robert. Robert had systematically taken out dozens of Lorenzo’s best men.

After pulling in, Lorenzo tells his grandson (Adriano Sabrie) to wait here in their vehicle. He didn’t want his grandson getting pulled into the messy situation waiting ahead.

While Lorenzo was no good guy, he understood the importance of protecting those he leads. Telling his grandson to wait in the vehicle kept him from seeing more disturbing dead bodies and what was to come.

Great leaders know when to tell their team members to wait. Whether this is to slow down a project headed for disaster or protect them from danger ahead, leaders shouldn’t be afraid to tell their people to wait.

Learn the difference between when to take action and when to wait. Waiting can save you, your organization, and your team members headaches.

2. Great leaders understand the situations they find themselves in:

Robert had been taken captive by the Sicilian mobsters and held for Lorenzo. While it looked like Robert had no business giving Lorenzo an ultimatum, he did. He understood the situation he was in.

As one of the Sicilian mobsters took a step too close to him, Robert sprung into action. He extricated himself from his constraints and took out the threats around him.

It’s your duty to understand the situations you and your organization find yourselves in. You have to be ready to examine what’s happened and what’s happening. From there, you have to figure out what to do next.

This doesn’t rest solely on you. You can hire external talent to examine the situation, rely on the information you hear from your people on the ground floor, and more.

You are responsible for wrapping your mind around what’s happening and taking action.

3. Doctor Enzo Arisio (Remo Girone):

Good thing I kept my father’s cane.

Enzo was a doctor in a small town in Italy. He would patch up those hurt by thugs, mobsters, and more. 

The key for him was not letting others know what happened. He would say many of his patients had fallen down. This is what he told Robert and Gio Bonucci (Eugenio Mastrandrea) to say if anyone asked after he patched up Robert’s gunshot wound.

Robert walked out of the house using Enzo’s father’s cane to help him walk. He was unsteady on his feet but could still get around with the help of the cane.

You may think this is a strange quote to use as a leadership lesson. But it isn’t. This is something we should all be doing.

We need to use the canes of those who have come before us. We need to understand what they’ve said, how they’ve led, and why they did what they did.

By using their cane, or past, you can process information and lead for today. Don’t be afraid to walk with the cane of another leader. It’ll help you get from your beginning to your end.

4. Understand what people are saying:

Robert called the CIA Financial Crime Department, asking if the special agent he was talking to was Emma Collins (Dakota Fanning). The agent he was talking to was, in fact, Emma. Once he confirmed this, he began to give her a cryptic message. 

Emma didn’t understand him at first. However, she began to understand what he was saying. This led her to investigate a vineyard in Italy where the Quaranta brothers operated their illegal operations.

Leaders speak a strange language. Many times, leaders think their team members speak an even stranger language. They may, but that’s okay.

You have to decipher what your people are saying. It’s a vital component to leading well. 

When you seek to understand what they’re saying, you begin to learn about the inner workings of your organization that have been hidden from you. You begin to understand how and why things work.

Learn to understand what your people are saying.

5. Robert McCall:

Enzo, what do you see when you look at me?

As Enzo was examining Robert’s healing wound, Robert asked Enzo what he saw when he looked at him. He was confused about why a man like Enzo would care for him.

Robert didn’t know how he saw himself. There was a sense he was a good guy, yet there was also a nagging within him that he was a bad, bad man.

Leaders can wonder what others see when someone looks at them. They know the people they lead won’t fully understand their reasoning or their thought process.

It can help you to ask those you lead what they see when they look at you. You may be shocked.

The reactions you get will be varied and insightful. Don’t discount what you hear. Use it to become a better leader.

6. Aminah (Gaia Scodellaro):

Why do you do that?

Aminah is the owner of a small cafe in Italy. She and Robert form a connection as he comes to the cafe regularly.

During one of his visits, Aminah musters up the courage to ask why he lays out a napkin for his tea. Day after day, he did this. The curiosity finally got the best of Aminah.

Robert didn’t have a great answer. He said it was out of habit. That was good enough for Aminah.

There are two routes we can take with this leadership quote. I’ll briefly explain both of them.

The first: Those we lead are curious about why we do what we do. Our actions aren’t as clear to them as we believe they are. We need to help them understand the reasoning behind our actions.

The second: Many times, our actions are out of habit. We’ve gotten into a rut, a routine that may be helpful or not. We must be aware of why we’re doing what we do and examine whether or not they’re helpful.

7. Aminah:

They see you as one of us now.

Aminah formed a special connection with Robert. She brought Robert to a special community feast that was happening in their small Italian city. Then, during a movie projected on the side of a building, another woman brought Robert something for his tea.

Robert wondered what was happening. Why were people so kind and generous to him? The answer was simple. The people there began to see him as one of them.

Leaders tend to sit above those they lead. They may even rise from a lower position to a position of authority. This can be a rough transition as the people may see this leader as someone who was once one of them but now is one of the bureaucracy.

The best leaders find a way to become like those they lead. They can interact well, speak their language, and help them get the resources they need.

Look for ways to be seen as one of the people you lead. When you do, you’ll find leading them is much easier.

8. Robert McCall:

They have their own agenda. What they say isn’t always what they mean.

Emma and Robert were talking. Emma came to the conclusion Robert was no longer a person of interest. Yet, he was still an interesting person. 

She also decided she would need to get into the community. Robert warned her it could be tricky. She would have to interact with them and get to know them.

The community could also be tricky to understand, especially to outsiders because of their agenda.

Your people are like the community Robert was talking about. Every single person on your team has their own agenda. An agenda you won’t know about. 

These same people will also speak in riddles, double-speak, and odd phrases that may confuse you. 

Once again, your job is to interact with your people. Find out who they are. Find out what they want. Find out how they communicate.

This is how you get a cohesive team.

9. Great leaders inspire confidence in others:

Vincent drug Chief Barella (Adolfo Margiotta) into the public square. He pulled out his gun and shot him in the ear. Threats followed that he would soon do more than this if his demands were not met.

Roberto stepped out. He offered himself in place of Barella. 

This begins to inspire the crowd that had gathered. The crowd pulled out their cell phones. They began to record Vincent. Enzo shoots a warning shot. It’s about to erupt into chaos.

Then, the other citizens began to step up and say, “Take me, kill me.” They did this to protect Enzo and Robert because Enzo and Robert had inspired confidence in them.

Our actions can either inspire others or intimidate them. Be a leader who inspires others.

Your inspiration, your leadership can encourage others to step up in times of great trial. They will be there when you need them if you are there for them when they need you.

10. Bad leaders bring ruin upon their team:

Vincent had multiple thugs guarding his home. They would patrol for trespassers or interlopers. It didn’t matter; they just had to make sure no one got in that shouldn’t.

Then, Robert arrives.

One by one, Robert takes out Vincent’s security detail. Dozens of men are left dead because they followed a bad leader. Vincent’s corrupt actions brought ruin to his team.

We’ve seen this play out in real life as organizations with corrupt leaders fell. Enron and others have destroyed those that worked for them.

If you’re not a leader, beware if you’re working for a bad leader. Their actions will eventually impact you. If you’re a leader, understand your actions will have consequences on those you lead. Your bad actions will hurt them.

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