The last ten years of movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a slow build that ended this weekend. This weekend, Marvel heroes including Captain America (Chris Evans), Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), and others finally face off against the Mad Titan himself, Thanos (Josh Brolin).
Everything Marvel has done in their movie universe led viewers to this moment. A moment of complete devastation.
It also led to an Avengers movie full of leadership lessons. You can watch Avengers: Infinity War and walk away a better leader.
Let’s dig into the leadership lessons from Avengers: Infinity War and see how the movie can impact your leadership.
Caution: Avengers: Infinity War spoilers below.
Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Avengers: Infinity War
1. Not everyone gets to be a part of the story:
Avengers: Infinity War assembles the largest cast of superheroes in one movie that has ever been seen. The movie boasts over 20 Marvel superheroes combining forces to fight off Thanos. Still, with this cast of superheroes, there are still heroes missing from the fight.
Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) are notably absent from the movie that seemed to include every Marvel superhero you could think of. Well… except those guys.
While everyone in your organization matters, not everyone can be a part of every story. You have to pick and choose who comes along for the journey.
You will find some players in your organization will fit better at certain times than others. You’ll have to bench some while pulling in others.
This is okay. This is the part of leading that is tough.
You have to make the call of whom to involve in which story.
You talk too much.
As Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) Asgardian refuge is being decimated by Thanos, Thor tells the Mad Titan and his minions they talk too much. And he meant it.
Be aware of how much you’re talking. Are you overpowering conversations? Are there decisions that aren’t being made well because all you do is talk? Or maybe you’re not getting things done because it’s all talk and no action.
Learn when to talk and when to shut up. You can’t talk all the time. You have to act.
3. A great leader protects others even when it is costly:
With Thanos destroying the Asgardians, Heimdall (Idris Elba) sees Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) being beaten to a pulp. Heimdall sees an opportunity to protect a member of The Avengers and does so.
While the Hulk is lying motionless on the ground, Heimdall uses the last of his strength to send the Hulk back to Earth. This final act of Heimdall costs him his life.
Thanos kills Heimdall. Yet the Hulk lived. The Hulk was protected.
Heimdall had a difficult choice to make. To save himself or to protect others. Heimdall chose to protect others, even though the cost would be heavy.
Great leaders seek to protect others. Even if this means their own well-being or benefits are in danger. They’re willing to protect others because they know they’re a leader because others are following them.
Be a leader who looks out for those they lead. You’re only a leader because someone is following you.
I consider experience, experience.
Loki, the God of Mischief, (Tom Hiddleston) had failed multiple times. Thanos knew this. And Thanos asked Loki if he considered failure to be experience.
The viewpoint Loki took was that everything was experience. Failure. Success. Stagnation. Experience was what it was.
How do you view experience? Do you see failure as experience? Maybe you see success as experience? Whatever your viewpoint, can you shift your view to everything is experience?
You will never be a god.
In collecting the Infinity Stones, Thanos desired to become a god. He wanted to be able to impose his knowledge and desires upon those under him.
By having all of six of the Infinity Stones (Mind, Soul, Power, Space, Time, and Reality), Thanos could bend time, reality, space, etc to his will. He would basically be a god.
Yet Loki knew Thanos could never be a god. A good one, at least.
He couldn’t become a god because Thanos was selfish. He wanted to get his, screw others.
Be careful of desiring to become a leader. Your desire and your heart have to be in the right place to become a great leader.
You have to have the heart of a servant, the desire to make other lives better and to set aside your hopes and dreams. Great leaders aren’t selfish. They’re selfless.
6. Tony Stark/Iron Man:
Point is, things change.
Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) was appointed to protect one of the Infinity Stones, the Time Stone. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) had suggested he destroy the Time Stone to prevent the Infinity Stone from falling into the hands of Thanos. This would be a round-about way of protecting the stone and, more importantly, the world.
Doctor Strange wouldn’t listen to Stark’s suggestion. He had made the promise to protect the stone and he would do just that.
Tony Stark saw it differently. Things change. The new situation called for a new way to protect the stone.
Look at your organization. Have things changed there over time? Have you changed?
Time changes all things. You have to be willing and able to change when change is required of you.
Don’t be afraid of change. Instead, embrace change.
7. Organizations break up:
The Avengers are known as the greatest heroes of the world. They’ve joined forces to protect the world from dangerous threats. And they did a great job of protecting the world.
Yet in Captain America: Civil War, the Avengers broke up. They went their separate ways. Their organization was no more.
Bruce Banner discovered this early in Avengers: Infinity War when he asked Tony Stark to call Steve Rogers/Captain America to let him know about the impending threat of Thanos. Tony told Bruce the Avengers were through. They’d called it quits.
Regardless of the quality of an organization, there comes a time to consider whether or not the organization needs to stay together.
There are multiple reasons why an organization might break up. Profits may be falling and cannot support the team. Key team members may choose to move on with no replacements readily available. Or maybe another organization comes in and buys them out.
Whatever the reason, all organizations have a limit to their lifespan. All organizations will break up at some point.
8. Leaders don’t get what they want:
Thanos led his attacks on various planets throughout the universe with the help of his “children”: Corvus Glaive (Michael James Shaw), Proxima Midnight (Carrie Coon), Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), and Cull Obsidian (Terry Notary). As they began their attack on Earth, Tony Stark, Doctor Strange, and Bruce Banner face off against this new villainous threat.
Bruce made an off-handed comment about his desires. He said he never gets what he wants.
Isn’t this the life of a leader? There are times when leaders have to forgo their wants and desires. They have to think about the team and not themselves.
Be willing to lead even when you don’t get what you want.
9. Upgrade your skills:
Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is a part of Avengers: Infinity War. As he attempts to fight and follow Thanos, Tony Stark asks Friday to release suit 17-A.
Viewers are treated to a cool upgrade to Peter Parker’s Spider-Man suit. Suit 17-A is the Iron Spider suit.
With the new Iron Spider suit, Peter’s abilities are greatly upgraded. He now has extendable appendages, oxygen masks, and more in the suit.
These upgrades allowed him to take the fight to Thanos.
Great leaders can’t stay stagnant in what they know. They know they have to constantly learn new leadership strategies and skills.
Be a leader who upgrades his skills on a regular basis. You can do this by:
Returning to school
Attending great conferences
Finding a mentor
Watching online courses
Upgrade your skills today!
10. Peter Parker/Spider-Man:
I should have stayed on the bus.
Peter Parker had a moment where he regretted taking the fight to Thanos. He had a choice to stay on his school bus. Instead, he chose to don his suit and fight a world-ending threat.
This doesn’t mean he wanted to be in the fight the whole time. No, he had doubts and fears. Much like you in your leadership position.
You will have times where you feel like you can’t get the job done. You will feel like there’s too much to do and not enough of you.
At the time, you may feel like you should have stayed in a lower position. But in the end, you know you made the right choice to accept the call to leadership.
Don’t let fear or doubt keep you from leading.
11. Make the tough call:
Bruce Banner, seeing the devastation brought on by Thanos, knew he had to do something. He picked up the phone and called the other Avengers.
While this was a tough call to make, they were broken up after all, it was the right thing to do. He called in reinforcements and got the gang back together.
Leadership is full of tough, uncomfortable calls. It’s what you signed up for.
You can’t hide from the tough decisions. You have to make tough calls.
Stop hiding. Start leading.
12. You can survive more than you think:
Avengers: Infinity War brings back the hilarious team of the Guardians Of The Galaxy: Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Groot (Vin Diesel), Drax The Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), and Star-Lord. They’re reintroduced as they receive a distress call from the home of the Asgardians.
Upon their arrival, they Guardians fly into the bodies of dead Asgardians. Then a body hits the windshield of their ship. This body was the body of Thor.
Only his body wasn’t dead. Thor was still alive.
The Guardians Of The Galaxy wondered aloud how could Thor have survived the harshness of space? The wrath of Thanos?
Yet Thor did survive. He was able to survive more than others thought he could.
And you can too. Trying times will come. You will feel like you can’t get through it all. But you can. You can survive and get through more than you think you can.
Families can be tough.
Thor discovered who Gamora’s father was (Thanos). Gamora admitted it and said she didn’t like the fact she was Thanos’ daughter.
This is when Thor drops a great truth bomb on the audience. Families can be tough. They’re not always pretty. And it’s not your fault.
I’ve noticed something about work and leaders. As situations at home arise, leaders can easily pour more time and energy into their work than their families.
Work becomes a refuge. Pouring their strength into work allows them to get away from the tough situations at home.
Be careful of doing this. You made a commitment to your spouse. Your wedding vows probably said, “For better or for worse.”
Don’t use your work as a way to hide from your family. They need you and you need them. You also need to work through the challenges of family life.
14. Recognize talent:
Thanos had traveled to Gamora’s home planet of Zen-Whoberi. There, he began to wipe out the population.
When Thanos saw the young Gamora fight, he recognized she was a talented fighter. He recognized her talent and spared her life. From there, Thanos trained Gamora to become a feared fighter.
While Thanos wouldn’t be considered a great leader, he did have traits of a great leader. He recognized and cultivated the talents he saw in others.
Great leaders do this. They see the talents of others and help them develop those talents.
Watch your team members. Who is exhibiting extraordinary talent? Begin working with them to help improve those talents.
This investment in your team members will repay the time and effort you put into mentoring them.
15. Be careful what you focus on:
As Thanos was slaughtering Gamora’s family, he had her focusing on balancing a double-bladed weapon on her fingers. She’s blissfully focused on the weapon and its balance rather than her people.
Gamora was easily distracted in this scene. She was focusing on what Thanos would have her focus on. Instead, she should have been focused on her family and relations. Because of her inappropriate focus, Thanos was able to kill off an entire species.
Leaders can be like the child-Gamora. They can focus on something trivial while much more important matters are at hand.
Examine what you’re focusing on. See if it truly is important or if something more important is happening in the background, all while you’re oblivious to the real problems going on around you.
Reality is often disappointing.
Half of the Guardians Of The Galaxy had flown to the Collector’s (Benicio Del Toro) planet of Knowhere. Upon arriving, they begin to fight Thanos.
The Guardians had seen Thanos imprison the Collector. Knowhere still looked lush and intact.
The truth was Thanos had already destroyed Knowhere and, more than likely, murdered the Collector. Thanos had used one of the Infinity Stones to make reality look different.
We always want to look for the best in our current situations. We want to see through rose-colored glasses. Finding reality disappointing is a bitter pill to swallow.
Yet reality is often disappointing. There are challenges you must face. There are frustrating relationships to handle. And there are bills to be paid.
This reality isn’t pretty. But it is reality. And you must face reality, regardless if it is good or bad.
17. Leadership requires a leader to pay a price:
James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle) had chosen to sign the Sokovia Accords. The Accords tied the hands of many of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and it split the Avengers apart.
Because of the choice Rhodes made in signing the Sokovia Accords, he paid a price. He lost friends and had to answer to people who didn’t understand superheroes.
In the end, Rhodes paid a price. He gave up freedom for an idea of peace.
When you step into a leadership role, there is a price to pay to lead. You give up your desires and aspirations to begin working on a bigger picture.
Leadership requires you to work towards a greater good. Not your own good.
Are you willing to pay the price?
18. Rest, then get back in the game:
At the end of Black Panther, you see a stinger featuring Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastion Stan). Bucky was resting and recovering in Wakanda during the events of Black Panther. By the time of Avengers: Infinity War, he was well-rested and ready to get back into the superhero game.
Black Panther knew this. He said as much during the movie when he said the White Wolf has rested long enough.
Leaders need to rest. They need to recharge and refuel. They also need to get back to leading when they’ve rested long enough.
Take a vacation. Spend time with your family. Do something that is relaxing.
But then get back to work when after you’ve rested. You’ll be better for the rest and be able to lead more effectively.
19. Peter Parker/Spider-Man:
You can’t be a friendly neighborhood Spider-man if there is no neighborhood.
Tony Stark didn’t want Peter Parker to be a part of the battle against Thanos. He didn’t believe Peter was ready to fight such a threat. However, Peter knew a great truth. You can’t be a part of something if there is nothing there.
His neighborhood, if it were destroyed, would stop him from being a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
Think about those you lead. If there is no one left in your organization or the organization goes away, how can you be a leader?
There has to be someone to lead. There has to be a reason to lead.
If you consider yourself a leader, make sure there are people following you.
20. Bad leaders create justifications:
Thanos was constantly justifying his actions. After destroying half of the Zehoberei people, he told Gamora it was so her people would no longer have to go hungry. He justified the slaughter of millions of people.
Are you creating justifications for your actions? Mismanaging money and saying it’s for a noble purpose? Firing people who are great workers so poor performers can stay on? Taking on bad business so you can say you have employed more people?
Justifications bring you down a bad road. They allow you to see negative actions in a positive light and blind you to the truth.
Be careful of justifying your actions. They’re going to end in ruin.
21. Bad leaders take and take some more:
One of the things Thanos did was to continue to take from others. When he had his Infinity Gauntlet created on the planet of Nidavellir (the planet Thor’s hammer Mjolnir was forged on), he killed all of the giant Dwarves except for Eitri (Peter Dinklage). Though Thanos let Eitri live, he continued to take from him.
After Etri created the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos forced Eitri’s hands into molten metal. This meant Etri could no longer forge weapons with his hands.
Great leaders know they can’t continue to take. They also have to give back to those who are helping them move forward.
Be a leader who gives back. Stop taking and give!
22. Doctor Strange:
What master do you serve?
This is a great question for every leader to ask of themselves. Examine your heart and soul. See whom you serve.
23. Red Skull:
We all think that at first. We are all wrong.
In a surprise cameo, Infinity War viewers are treated to the appearance of the Red Skull (Ross Marquand) on the planet Vormir. There, the Soul Stone is kept. And the Red Skull shares an important leadership lesson in Avengers: Infinity War.
The Red Skull thought he was willing to pay the price to get what he wanted. He learned from his action that he was not willing to do anything to get what he wanted. And he shared this piece of knowledge with Thanos.
Do you think you’re willing to pay any price to get what you want as a leader? You’re going to find out that you’re not or that it’s not worth paying the ultimate price to realize the idea of “success.”
Be careful of what you’re pursuing. You may sacrifice the wrong things in the pursuit of your “success.”
24. You are exactly what someone needs:
Thor, Groot, and Rocket had gone to Nidavellir to have a new hammer created for Thor. After Eitri overcame his disability, they were able to create a new hammer, Stormbreaker.
However, in the creation of the hammer, Thor was gravely injured. He was dying. And Stormbreaker needed a handle for Thor to wield it.
This is when Groot stepped up to the plate. He extended his branchy arm and wrapped it around the blade of Stormbreaker. Once this was done, he chopped off the extended appendage and Thor’s new hammer was completed.
Groot was needed to complete the hammer and save Thor. He was there when he was needed.
You may think you only play a minor role in your organization. Stop with that small thinking.
You are a valuable part of the organization. Someone there needs you.
Be the valuable piece of the organization you’re meant to be.
Guys, we have a Vision problem.
In the Avengers, Vision (Paul Bettany) is an android created by Ultron and Helen Cho. Fused with the Mind stone, he is a member of the Avengers and love interest of the Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). Because of the Mind Stone he was fused with, he is a target of Thanos.
The fortress he was being worked on in Wakanda had been attacked by Thanos’ forces. Vision knew the danger he was in and jumped from the tower and began to flee. Sam Wilson/The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) saw this and radioed for help.
The vision problem Sam Wilson noticed in the movie was related to a person. The vision problem you will face as a leader isn’t a person but an idea.
You have to create a vision that is worth chasing after. Then you have to convince others to latch onto the vision and chase after it with you. If you can’t, you have a vision problem.
You’re not the only one cursed with knowledge.
Tony Stark and Thanos both had a problem. They were cursed with knowledge. Insurmountable knowledge that consumed them.
Thanos was driven to heinous acts. Tony Stark used his knowledge to try to better the world. Still, they were cursed with knowledge beyond their understanding.
You can be cursed with knowledge too. You may seek to learn more and more. Without ever applying the knowledge you’re gaining. This is the curse of knowledge.
To know and do nothing.
If all you’re doing is gaining more knowledge, stop. You need to begin applying the knowledge you’re gaining to improve the situations around you. This is how you will break the curse of knowledge.
27. Doctor Strange:
We’re in the endgame now.
Doctor Strange gave up the Time Stone to Thanos. He knew he had to or else. He also knew giving Thanos the Time Stone changed the playing field.
Doing this moved the timetable to the endgame. Things would rapidly change, and change forever.
Knowing where you’re at in the game of leadership will help you make wiser decisions. You have to know where you’re at and what moves you have left.
What did it cost?
Thanos was eventually able to acquire the six Infinity Stones. He snapped his fingers and wiped out half of the population of the universe. Heroes disappeared. Villains disappeared. Regular people disappeared.
And what did it cost Thanos? Everything. He had to sacrifice the one thing he loved: Gamora.
Leadership isn’t without cost. You have to know what you’re willing to pay and what is too great a cost.
Leadership doesn’t have to cost everything. And when it does, you’re leading to the wrong place.
29. Leadership success takes time:
Avengers: Infinity War has blown away box office records. Opening to $250 million domestically and $630 million worldwide, Infinity Wars is a box office success.
This success wasn’t an overnight success. No, the success of Avengers: Infinity War built over ten years of movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Infinity War is the culmination of 18 other Marvel movies.
Many people think success is an overnight phenomenon. Success is not that. Success is consistency over time.
You have to put in the time to become a successful leader. You have to study and work hard. You’ll also have to continue to show up, even when you don’t want to .
Don’t think you can become an overnight successful leader. You can’t. But you can work towards success.