We’ve heard the fictional story of the women warriors of the Dora Milaje in the movie Black Panther. Imagine if they were real. They may have been.
The Woman King is based on a true story. The film looks at the Agojie, a band of warrior women that protected Dahomey in the 1800s. They were fierce, deadly, and violent. They were also very effective.
Viola Davis stars as Nanisca, the leader of the Agojie. She’s training the next generation of female warriors to protect the kingdom.
The movie is filled with tense moments… Moments that will make you rage with anger, cringe in your seat because of the abuse, and cheer for the Agojie.
Throughout the film, there are leadership lessons galore. We will explore those leadership lessons in this article.
Quotes And Leadership Lessons From The Woman King
1. Trust your gut:
The movie opens with a band of warriors gathered around a fire. One of the men hears a noise. He believes there could be trouble.
Suddenly, birds are flushed from their rest. The warriors laugh. They think the man had heard the birds.
He hadn’t. There was a threat lurking in the brush. The Agojie were about to attack.
Your gut isn’t just for digesting food. Your gut helps you figure out things happening before they happen.
Listen to your gut. Your intuition can add an extra 20% accuracy to the things you analyze.
Don’t ignore your gut instincts. We have something deep within us that helps us to understand what we don’t see.
2. Nawi (Thuso Mbedu):
I will not marry a man who beats me.
Nawi’s father was trying to marry her off to random men. One of those men was abusive.
When Nawi wouldn’t obey his commands, the husband-to-be smacks the young woman across the face. He berates her. The words he utters tell her she best listen to him.
Nawi stood defiant. She would not be pushed around.
I think employees need to be more like Nawi. They need to stand up against bad leadership.
Your employees do not need to take your abuse. They do not need to listen to you when you tell them to do something unethical, illegal, etc…
Your employees are a help to you. They are not your servants. Treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve.
3. Great communities help one another:
The Agojie community looked fantastic. People were caring for one another.
As the camera pans through the community, you see women helping each other. One woman is tending the wounds of another. A different woman is helping a woman with her hair.
They were all helping each other. They were all loyal to one another.
This is what a great community looks like.
Work on making your business a place of great community. Encourage your people to help one another.
This could be teaming up to complete a project or getting a rush shipment out the door. This could be you listening to an employee who is struggling.
Make a community where people love to come to work.
4. People will leave when you challenge them:
The Agojie were looking for recruits. Nanisca offered the new recruits a choice.
The new recruits could stay and serve. Or they could leave with no consequences.
A large number of Agojie recruits left. They were not up for the challenge.
Great leaders challenge the people they lead. They know that without a challenge, their people will not grow.
Yet, some people do not want to take on the challenge. They want to sit in comfort. They desire an easy life.
Don’t let your people coast. Give them a good challenge.
5. Izogie (Lashana Lynch):
We need smart warriors. The dumb ones die quickly.
Izogie was a fierce warrior. She fought well with a blade but even more fiercely with her dagger-like fingernails.
Izogie encouraged the recruits not to be dumb. They needed smart warriors. They needed warriors who would be around for a long time.
You need smart people on your team. Not because the dumb ones will die.
No, the dumb ones won’t die. They will hurt your organization.
Make sure you’re looking to onboard smart employees. These are the ones who will help your organization thrive.
If I’m quiet, she won’t see me.
Nawi was very confrontational. She would challenge Nanisca whenever she had the chance.
The reasoning behind this may seem strange but it’s true. Nawi wouldn’t be quiet because she desired to be seen. She wanted to be heard.
Do you have a person on your team that is confrontational? Do they challenge you at every turn?
Instead of seeing them as an annoyance, see what they’re longing for. These team members aren’t trying to cause trouble. They’re trying to be seen.
Give them your attention. Let your people know that you notice them. Help them to understand how to get positive attention without challenging your authority.
7. King Ghezo (John Boyega):
Sometimes a mouse can take down an elephant.
The Oyo was a tribe of people who were humiliating the Dahomey people. Led by Oba Ade (Jimmy Odukoya), they demanded tributes of guns, food, and captives.
The King of Dahomey began to stand up against Oba. He eventually came to the point where he realized his people must take action against the Oyo. To do this, he sent Oba a message.
A mouse is small, like his kingdom. The Oyo was a large kingdom. They had to beware of the small threat. The little Dahomey could take them down.
You may lead a small organization. You see other, larger organizations making great strides. There seems to be no way to overcome these giants in your industry.
Don’t worry. Your scrappy business could overcome the bigger competition.
The little ones are often the ones best positioned to take advantage of changing climates in business. You’re small, agile, and can make rapid changes.
Don’t spite your small size. Embrace it. Use your size to your advantage.
Vision is seeing what others do not.
Nanisca was a visionary. She was able to see things those around her could not. This allowed her great power in the Agojie.
Her ability to see things that others couldn’t is also what made her a leader. She could look at everything happening and see what could or would happen.
She saw possibilities.
Do you see what others do not? Do you see possibilities where others see questions?
Begin looking at the situations around you. Learn to see what could be. Train yourself to see possibilities.
Leaders see what others do not. They have vision.
9. Embrace differences:
The Agojie were a band of warrior women. This didn’t mean they worked alone.
No, there were men from the Dahomey that also fought with the Agojie.
These men used guns. They had the firepower and could attack from afar. They also allowed the Agojie to step on them and launch an attack.
The different types of skills worked well together. They embraced the differences.
Embrace the differences in your organization. Seek to find a way to make the different skills of your employees work together.
They can become even more effective when you embrace the differences and work them together.
10. People will not forget how you treated them even though you may forget:
During the movie, the viewer discovers that Nanisca was raped. The offender was Oba.
As a result of the rape, Nanisca became pregnant. Her child was the young Nawi.
Nanisca eventually faced off against Oba. She remembered what he had done to her. He didn’t.
The way she felt drove her to fight viciously. She would have victory because of her memory.
You have to be aware of how you’re treating people. You cannot treat people poorly and expect loyalty or grace.
Even years later, the people you treated poorly will remember you for the mistreatment they faced under your leadership. But, in the same vein, those you treated well will remember the way you respected and treated them.
Work on creating a legacy where people remember you for the good things you did.