Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Wicked The Musical

This edition of Reel Leadership is different. Instead of hitting on one of the latest films to hit theaters, we’re going to look at a musical theater play. When I ran the London Marathon, I had the opportunity to visit the Apollo Victoria Theatre London. It is home to the musical Wicked.

Wicked tells the story of The Wizard Of Oz but with a twist.

Glinda the good witch and Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West together

The play explores the backstory of the Wicked Witch Of The West, Elphaba Thropp. She was born different, her skin a hue of green, and everyone seemed to be afraid of her.

This sets up an excellent chance to explore the themes of leadership. Wicked can help us reexamine the way we look at a troubled employee, how we view good employees, and more. Join us on this fantastical Reel Leadership journey.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Wicked The Musical

1. We can’t judge others by their appearance:

Elphaba was picked on, treated differently, and sent away because of her appearance. Inside, she was a sweet girl/young woman. Every time someone made fun of her, screamed in fear, and ran away, it changed the way Elphaba viewed the world.

Eventually, Fiyero saw Elphaba differently. He saw her beauty and elegance. He saw her as a human being, whereas everyone else saw her as a monster.

This change was made evident when Fiyero sang the song As Long As You’re Mine. One of the lines in the song said:

You’ve got me seeing through different eyes.

He had to change the way he saw her so he could see who she truly was.

It’s easy to judge someone by the way they look. It could be they have a different skin tone than you, a physical deformity, or a cleft palate. It’s easy to look at someone who looks different and believe they are different.

Stop judging someone by their appearance. Get to know them. Give them a chance. You’ll discover amazing employee potential in people who are different than you.

2. Elphaba and Glinda (the Good Witch):

Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.

In the song For Good, Glinda and Elphaba sing a duet. They originally had a strained relationship due to Elphaba’s strange appearance. Once Glinda got to know Elphaba, she realized she wasn’t a monster.

Elphaba also learned something. Glinda wasn’t as abrasive as she seemed. 

The two formed a formidable relationship.

Great leaders are leaders who change people for good. They help people see the best in themselves. 

Be a leader who changes people. You can do it. You have the ability to influence others.

3. Leaders aren’t always good:

Elphaba desires to meet the Wizard Of Oz. She believed he could help turn the tide of the nasty happenings. What she discovers rocks her world.

The Wizard Of Oz isn’t a good guy. He’s the one who’s turning the anthropomorphic people back to fully animalistic behavior. 

This hurts Elphaba. She wanted to help but found out that the one person she thought she could count on was the villain.

We’ve got to be careful of our actions. If we’re not, we could become the Wizard Of Oz through our actions.

We must be aware leaders aren’t always good (including you and I). We make mistakes. We make decisions that go against the best interests of those we lead.


We can change. When we discover we’re going down the wrong path, we can change course and find ways to do what’s right.

Leaders aren’t always good. But they can change.

4. People will recognize great talent:

Elphaba and her wheelchair-bound sister, Nessarose, head off to Shiz University. There, Elphaba is assigned a room in the dormitory of Glinda. Her sister is set to go to another dorm. This frustrates Elphaba, who had promised their father that she would watch over her sister.

In a fit of fury, she uses her magical abilities to pull Nessarose’s wheelchair toward her. She wasn’t going to leave her sister.

Madame Morrible sees this. She is impressed with Elphaba’s magical talent. Because of this recognition, she invites Elphaba to work with the Wonderful Wizard Of Oz.

So often, we feel that our talent and skill go unnoticed, that others aren’t paying attention.

They are. They see what you do on a regular basis. They notice the work (hard or not) that you do.

Put forth your best effort. It will be recognized.

5. Beware false narratives:

After meeting the Wizard Of Oz, Elphaba is given a spellbook to make the Wizard’s monkeys fly. The spell is successful but the process of sprouting wings is painful. Elphaba sees this and is distraught.

More disturbing, she learns the Wizard is behind the suppression of the Animals. 

When she learns this, she flees from his presence. Madame Morrible then spreads a false narrative about Elphaba. This message spreads throughout Oz, and Elphaba becomes a wanted outlaw.

It’s easy to buy into false narratives. Many of them play into our fear, loathing, or desires. They tell us what we want to hear. 

We must be careful when we hear a narrative being laid out before us. Examine it. Do your research, real research on it. 

You may discover what you’ve been told has been a false narrative all along.

6. Our help can do more good than bad:

Elphaba goes to visit her sister. She discovers Nessarose is now the governor of Munchkinland and their father has passed away. Nessarose has become an oppressive leader.

To cure her sister, Elphaba enchants a pair of shoes. The enchanted shoes give Nessarose the ability to walk. 

Nessarose’s love (Boq) sees this and knows Nessarose no longer needs him. He leaves her to pursue his true love, Glinda. Nessarose throws a fit, grabs the spellbook, and casts a spell to make Boq fall madly in love with her. She botches the spell and reduces the size of Boq’s heart.

As he lies there struggling to survive, Elphaba casts a spell to save Boq’s life. She transforms him into the Tin Man, who doesn’t need a heart to live.

Yet Boq is horrified by his new body and flees. Nessarose is upset, and no one is happy.

We want to jump to assist those we lead. We see it as an opportunity to add value.

Sometimes, our eagerness to help has unintended consequences. They hurt the person we’re trying to help more than helping them.

Be aware of this as you jump in to help. Make sure you’re really helping.

7. Not everyone is privy to what happens behind the scenes:

Dorothy grabs a bucket of water and throws it onto Elphaba. Water is supposed to kill a witch. Elphaba begins to melt, and all that remains is Elphaba’s pointy witch hat and the green elixir she carried with her.

You’re led to believe Elphaba has perished at this point. But she hasn’t. Machinations were going on behind the scenes and Elphaba faked her death. She lived!

The citizens of Oz and Emerald City didn’t know Elphaba lived. They didn’t know what happened behind the scenes.

There’s so much that happens within organizations. There’s so much behind the scenes.

Your people will rarely know what truly happens. The effort that is put into your hard work. Or the thought processes that were laid out before making a decision.

You’ll have to keep things a mystery even when you want to inform others.

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