Quotes And Leadership Lessons From The Rhythm Section

A Reel Leadership Article

I didn’t know what to think of The Rhythm Section when I first heard about the movie (I also discovered it is based on a book). I was confused as to the premise and then I became excited once I realized what it was all about.

The Rhythm Section is the story of a young woman named Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively). After her family is killed in a plane crash she turns to a life of prostitution. When she discovers there was more to the plane crash that killed her family, she begins to seek out retribution.

Blake Lively as Stephanie in The Rhythm Section

The story continues to grow as we are introduced to characters such as B (Jude Law), Mark Serra (Sterling K. Brown), and Proctor (Raza Jaffrey). Each character added another level of complexity to the film.

Sadly, the complexity and intrigue doesn’t make for a great movie.

Thankfully, Reel Leadership doesn’t depend on whether or not the movie was good. Reel Leadership can be found even in the worst of movies (The Rhythm Section isn’t the worst movie of all time but it is far from great). Today, we’re going to look at the Reel Leadership lessons in The Rhythm Section.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From The Rhythm Section

1. Stephanie Patrick:

Think of your heart as the drums. Your breathing as the bass.

Stephanie was taught to think of her breathing and heartbeat as the rhythm section of her body. If she could get those under control, beating and inhaling in the right rhythm, she could calm her body and make the right moves.

We can take away something from this opening quote. We can learn how we control our bodies can impact how we lead.

Be careful in letting your body control your reactions. Look to control your body so you can make wise decisions.

2. The truth can change your life:

Proctor was a journalist. He was seeking to expose the truth behind the plane crash that killed many people.

He sought out Stephanie as she was in a house of prostitutes. He approached her and began to unravel her life. In the process, he brought her out of a life of prostitution and into a life she could fully live.

The truth is hidden from many people. They don’t want to hear it or haven’t been exposed to the truth. When exposed to the truth, lives are changed.

This can take place in the business or faith world. In business, your team is looking for you to be honest with them. They need to hear what is going on and not to have life-changing decisions hidden from them. By exposing them to the truth, they can make wise decisions regarding the course of their lives (like the decisions you’re trying to make for your business).

On the faith side, when people discover the truth behind Christ, their world is flipped upside down. They discover there is more to life than living for themselves. They discover someone cares for them and there is an afterlife.

3. Stephanie Patrick:

Can you prove it?

Hearing the plane crash was not an accident came as a shock to Stephanie. She found the truth hard to swallow. So, what did Stephanie do? She asked for proof.

Stephanie wasn’t going to follow Proctor on blind faith. She needed to see proof. And proof she received.

Your team members are a lot like Stephanie. They’re willing to follow you and trust you but they’re looking for something else. They’re looking for proof of what you’re saying.

As you reveal things to your team members, be ready to present them with proof. Proof can be researched backed analysis, feedback from experts, and experience-based.

Be ready and willing to present proof. Without it, your team may be reluctant to believe what you’re saying.

4. Great leaders need help:

Proctor had a source for the information. The source’s name was B (yes, just the letter).

B realized he couldn’t expose the plane crash by himself. He needed help. B recruited those he believed could help him in his mission.

B acted like a real leader. He knew the truth had to be exposed. He also realized he couldn’t expose the truth himself. Thus, he began to recruit people.

Are you like B? Are you willing to say you don’t have all the answers or all the resources?

If you’re willing to admit you can’t do it all, you’re on the path to becoming a great leader. Great leaders know they need help. They look for the best fit, brightest minds, and those who are willing to get the job done.

5. Sometimes you’re not ready to lead:

Stephanie wanted to get the person who made the bomb, Reza (Tawfeek Barhom). She went to a friend and purchased a handgun. She went and sat down at the table Reza was eating lunch. And she tried to pull the trigger.

Mistake #1.

Reza confronted her. He and his friends left the table.

In her confused state, Stephanie didn’t realize Reza and his homeboys took her backpack containing the proof Proctor had collected. The deadly #2 mistake.

With the information in the backpack, Reza and his boys went to Proctor’s apartment. There, they killed him.

Stephanie wasn’t ready to take on Reza and the men who had blown up the plane.

You might think you’re ready to lead. You might be close. Stephanie sure was.

But sometimes we’re not ready to lead. Sometimes we need more preparation, training, or self-control.

Be willing to step back until you’re ready to lead.

6. B:

You don’t know the scale of the mess you’ve made.

Stephanie’s mistake in confronting Reza caused a big mess. Proctor was killed. The scale of the investigation was exposed.

Messy. Messy. Messy…

We can cause huge messes when we pull the trigger on initiatives too soon. We can be excited about an acquisition or a new product line. By pulling the trigger before due diligence is completed or we have a clear sense of what we’re doing, we can get into messes that are hard to get out of.

Make sure you’re not rushing headfirst into a bad business deal. They happen. You have to be careful.

7. There are easy and hard parts of leadership:

B began to train Stephanie to track down and take out the men responsible for the plane bombing. He was helping her to understand what it would take.

One of those things was learning how to shoot a gun. Stephanie quickly learned how to hit a non-human target. She thought she was well on her way.

This is when B stopped her. He told her “Shooting is the easy part.” That’s true. Shooting is easy. You point the gun and pull the trigger.

Then B told her something else. He told Stephanie “Living with it is the hard part.”

It is easy to make decisions. You can rattle off a list of things you want done. Easy, peasy.

Once you’ve made the decision, the hard part comes. You have to live with the decisions you make.

You will have to live with:

  • Hiring and firing team members
  • Shuttering a division of the organization
  • Deciding to move to another city
  • Expanding operations

Each decision has a consequence. Living with the consequence can be difficult.

8. Suleman Kaif (Nasser Memarzia):

If you want to talk to me, get that gun out of my face.

Kaif was another victim of the plane bombing. One of his family members had been on board.

Stephanie wanted to use him to fund her revenge mission. She approached Kaif in a bad, bad way.

After breaking into his home, Stephanie held Kaif at gunpoint. She began to tell him why she was there. Then Kaif had enough. He told her to get the gun out of his face if she wanted to talk.

Oh… how many leaders are like Stephanie? They believe the only way to get things done is through brute force.

These leaders hold a metaphorical gun to their team members. They do this by:

  • Threatening to fire them
  • Lording their title over them
  • Yelling and screaming
  • Embarrassing them in front of others

Don’t be a Stephanie leader. Be a leader who knows how to communicate with their team without the threats.

Threatening your team members won’t make them like you more or want to work with you more. Rather, you will cause them to seek employment elsewhere.

9. Bad leaders try to escape from their decisions:

Reza had given a young woman a bomb vest. She was to blow herself and the crowd up at a peaceful protest.

Reza had told her she would press the button and the vest would explode. This wasn’t true. Reza had set a timer for the vest. He had planned to be far away from the consequences.

Bad leaders are like Reza. They know their decisions are going to hurt others and, possibly, themselves. What they do is they try to insult themselves from the pain they will cause.

They will run. They will hide. And they will avoid the consequences.

Don’t be a bad leader. When your choices hurt others, own up to it. Be there with them. Help them get through it.

Question: If you’ve watched The Rhythm Section, what leadership lessons did you take away from the movie? If you haven’t seen the movie, what Reel Leadership lessons from The Rhythm Section that I shared resonated with you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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