Quotes And Leadership Lessons From The Protégé

A Reel Leadership Article

The Protégé stars Samuel L. Jackson as the assassin Moody. His protégé is Anna (Maggie Q). When Moody is apparently assassinated, Anna goes on a hunt for his killer and revenge.

The movie is full of action, entertainment, and, important to Reel Leadership, leadership lessons.

Maggie Q and Samuel L. Jackson in The Protege

You will be brought back in time. Then be brought forward again. You will see Anna tangle with bad guys such as Michael Keaton’s Rembrandt, Patrick Malahide’s Vohl, and David Rintoul’s Edward Hayes.

Now, it’s time to jump into Reel Leadership. Let’s discover the leadership lessons in The Protégé.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From The Protégé

1. Figure out why your team stopped being dependable:

Moody finds a young girl (a young Anna) hiding in a closet amidst mass causalities. She’s scared and holding a gun. She pulls the trigger and it just clicks.

Moody tells her that the gun is a Berreta 93. It is usually a dependable gun, or so he tells the young girl.

Your people can be dependable. You may expect them to show up on time, do their job, and go home.

One day, they’re not dependable. There’s a jam in their usual work routine.

This is when you have to figure out why they stopped being dependable. Did they get jammed up? Did something happen at home? Did a loved one die?

There’s usually a reason someone stops being dependable. You can find out and help them get back on track.

2. Mentor others:

Moody had found Anna hiding as a young girl. He decided to take her under his wing and train her.

He found a mentee. He became a mentor.

Leaders are mentors. They look for up-and-coming people they can take under their wing and train.

Who are you mentoring? Are you not mentoring anyone? If not, find someone and begin the mentoring journey.

3. Gifts should have meaning:

Anna found a great gift for Moody. She purchased a 1958 Gibson Flying V guitar for his birthday.

She didn’t randomly pick out the guitar. Rather, she knew who Moody was. She knew what he wanted. She found the perfect gift for him.

When he opened the present, he was stoked. He had gotten a gift he wanted. He would enjoy it, if he lived long enough.

Think about the corporate gifts you’ve received. Many of the gifts have been impersonal. They meant nothing to you. They meant nothing to the gift giver.

Why give the gift then?

John Rulen, in his book Giftology, talks about giving meaningful gifts to clients. His reasoning is simple: Generic gifts mean nothing to the receiver. Give them a personalized gift and they will talk about you forever.

Make sure the gifts you’re giving have meaning.

4. Don’t be deceived by what you don’t have:

Benny (Gamba Cole) was someone Anna went to for information. He was a geek who could find information on anyone.

Anna met Benny for information. He went on and on about his mustache and asked Anna what she thought of it.

The funny part? Benny didn’t have a mustache… Well, not much of one anyway.

He was deceived into thinking his mustache was something great. It wasn’t.

We can be as deceived as Benny was. We can think we’re more skilled or thought of than we are. We have to be careful of deceiving ourselves.

If we deceive ourselves, we will fall into the trap of self-delusion.

5. Great leaders visualize:

Moody was gunned down in his home. So was his cook, Claudia (Caroline Loncq). Anna walked into the house to find their dead bodies.

As she walked through the house, she visualized what happened. She pictured in her mind the intruders breaking in, the shots firing from the gun, and the pair dying. She could see the events play out like she was there.

She visualized the events.

Great leaders do what Anna did. They visualize the situations in front of them. They playback what has happened. They also press fast forward to see what will happen.

They use visualization to get an idea of what is to come. They use visualization to figure out what happened.

Visualization is a great tool. It helps us understand events we were and were not a part of.

Use visualization to project the future.

6. Leaders need to be direct:

Anna met with Vohl. He offered her champagne. Anna aptly rejected the offer of a drink.

Instead, Anna went right into the reason she was there. She asked about Hayes. She wanted to know more about him and why everyone was dying over him.

As leaders, we cannot be indirect in the questions we ask or the direction we give. We have to be willing to be straight shooters.

Learn to be more direct when asking questions. The answers you get will be better.

7. Realize the gravity of your situation:

Duqet (Ray Fearon) was one of the bad guys in The Protégé. Anna had just killed 4 of his henchmen. Rembrandt told Duqet that Anna was off licking her wounds. She would be back.

This didn’t worry Duqet. In fact, he was excited about the return of Anna. He thought he could take her out.

The gravity of the situation hadn’t hit him.

Anna had taken out 4 of his trained men. She was injured but recovering. She was looking for revenge. She would be back.

Duqet missed all of this. It cost him in the end.

We have to be aware of the gravity of the situations we’re in. If we try to pretend they’re not weighty or that they don’t mean much, we are in for a world of hurt.

We have to have an awareness of the gravity of the situations we’re facing. We cannot brush dangerous things under the rug.

8. We can look for the wrong things:

Anna was looking for Hayes’ son, Lucas (Dimitar Nikolov). She had inquired about Lucas Hayes wherever she went. This was the name she was given.

She discovered that she was looking for the wrong name. Lucas’ last name had been changed when he was re-admitted.

Had Anna been looking for the right name, she would have found Lucas sooner.

We’re a lot like Anna when it comes to us looking for what we want. We have an idea of what we think we want. We begin pursuing it. Then we discover that what we were pursuing wasn’t the right thing.

We have to change directions. We have to change mindsets.

Only then will we find the right thing.

9. Leaders cannot be over-confident:

Roy (I believe that was his name) was over-confident. He mentioned how he had protected high-value targets in the past. No one would get past him.

There was nothing to worry about. Or so Roy re-affirmed the people around him.

He was wrong. His over-confidence allowed Anna to get into the gala he was to protect.

Leaders have to have a certain level of confidence. Without confidence, leaders are weak and ineffective.

However, with too much confidence, or hubris, leaders are dangerous. They take risks that are inappropriate. They don’t see the dangers lurking around them.

Have confidence. Temper the confidence so you’re not over-confident.

10. Rembrandt:

You can change where you’re going.

In the final face-off, Anna and Rembrandt battle to the death. Anna walks off the winner. Before the battle, Rembrandt, though a bad leader, says something impactful.

He tells Anna that she can change where she’s going. She doesn’t have to continue on the pathway she is.

This is wise. This is something every leader needs to keep in mind.

We don’t have to continue going down the path we’ve begun to go. We can change directions. More importantly, we have to realize the people we lead can also change their paths. We have to encourage this when we see them going down the wrong path.

Be willing to change your path. Be willing to let those you lead change their path.

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