Black Panther is the last Marvel Cinematic Universe movie before the character packed Avengers: Infinity War releases May 8th, 2018. With the previous Marvel movies, Black Panther had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, Black Panther delivered.
Black Panther tells the story of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the King of Wakanda, and his rise to the throne after his father T’Chaka (John Kani) was murdered. T’Chaka was murdered by Helmut Zemo after Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) assassination attempt failed in Captain America: Civil War.
Throughout the engaging story of Black Panther, T’Challa faces internal and external threats as he navigates his newfound role as the leader of Wakanda.
Hopefully, you’ve watched Black Panther as we’re going to be discussing the leadership lessons from Black Panther in the article below.
Caution: Black Panther spoilers below.
Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Black Panther
1. Great leaders are protectors:
The Black Panther was the protector of the Wakandan people. He stood up for their safety and well being. He made sure his people were protected.
Leaders of organizations have a similar responsibility. Leaders are protectors.
They do what they can to ensure their teams are taken care of and have what they need to get their jobs done.
Watch over your people. Take care of them. Be a protector.
2. Great leaders confront evil:
T’Chaka left the confines of Wakanda to confront his brother N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown). N’Jobu played an integral role in the theft of vibranium from Wakanda. T’Chaka knew this and couldn’t let this evil stand.
Leading a team of people is messy. Evil deeds will be done and action will have to be taken. As a leader, you have the responsibility to step up and confront evil as you see it happening.
Recently, we’ve seen the failure to confront evil in leadership. Sexual harassment in the workplace and the #MeToo movement are signs leaders have failed to confront evil.
You have a duty to confront evil as you see it. Don’t be afraid to stand for what is right.
3. Family and relationships are important:
Black Panther attacked a convoy of trucks hauling captured Wakandans. What you didn’t know as you watched this rescue was that Black Panther was interrupting an undercover mission his love interest, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), was a part of.
There was a reason for the interruption of the mission. Black Panther wanted Nakia to be by his side as he was crowned King. He knew the mission was important. He also realized family and friendship was more important.
You’re going to have to choose between family/friends and the job at some point. Because of this, you’re going to have to choose wisely.
There are times when you can forgo the mission you’re on for your family and friends. They’re important. They’re the ones cheering you on and helping you succeed behind the scenes.
You have to remember the important people in your life. Keep neglecting the important people in your life and they will no longer be there.
4. Talent can come from anywhere:
Black Panther holds a special place in my world. A 2004 Muskegon Heights High School alum, Tywaun “Ty” Tornes, played a tribesman in Black Panther.
Muskegon Heights is a neighboring city of the city of Muskegon, where I reside. Seeing someone local on the big screen made my day and showed talent can be found anywhere.
Be on the lookout for talent as you’re out and about. Talent can come from your hometown, a neighboring city, or far away. Talent is all around.
Just because something works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.
Shuri (Letitia Wright) is T’Challa’s sister and a technological wizard. She worked hard to provide new (and improved technology) to T’Challa and his role as the Black Panther.
One of the tools Black Panther used was a localized EMP disc to stop the trucks he rescued the kidnapped Wakandans from. He thought the tools he had were already spectacular.
When his sister mentioned improving his tools, he wondered why. After his sister modified the localized EMP discs, Black Panther discovered WHY.
While working technology is great, the technology becomes better when you look for ways to improve upon what’s already there. Shuri discovered a way to allow a user to control a vehicle under the influence of the localized EMP discs. Talk about an improvement!
So, just because something works doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for a way to improve upon the technology you’re using or the way you’re doing business.
There are things you can do to vastly improve your current processes and abilities. Find ways to improve and then improve!
6. Leaders can focus on the wrong things:
Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) entered a museum displaying African artifacts. As he was admiring them, the female director of the museum approached him and they began to discuss the artifacts.
Killmonger soon tells her that he will be taking a Wakandan tool off of her hands. She wonders how this will be as none of the artifacts are for sale. That’s when Killmonger tells her she’s been watching the wrong things.
Killmonger had her Starbucks drink poisoned. And people waiting to steal the artifact. The museum’s eyes were on the artifacts, not the people who could steal it.
With so much going on in your world, you can easily get your eyes transfixed on the wrong things. From money to fame to honor, leaders can focus on those things instead of what truly matters.
Decide what matters in your leadership. Write down what matters. Then focus on what is important.
7. Leaders will be challenged:
As part of the process of being crowned King, T’Challa was open to being challenged for the crown. Anyone of royal lineage could battle T’Challa to the death or yield.
M’Baku (Winston Duke), of the Jabari tribe, was the only person to challenge T’Challa.
Just because you’re a leader doesn’t mean you won’t have people looking to take your title from you. Work hard and fair to show you are worthy of the title of leader.
8. Great leaders offer grace:
The challenge for the crown was a battle to the death or until one opponent yielded the fight. M’Baku was unwilling to yield, at first. He continued to fight, to battle against T’Challa.
During the fight, T’Challa asked M’Baku to yield multiple times. Each time M’Baku would not yield.
T’Challa had a choice. To end M’Baku’s life or to offer grace and another opportunity for M’Baku to yield.
You will have the opportunity to extend grace, opportunity, to your team members who have made a mistake. You can either end the team member or offer grace.
Examine the situation and make a choice. Grace or death.
Stand up. You are a king.
T’Challa eventually got M’Baku to yield. When the battle was done, T’Challa ingested a flower that brought him into a trancelike state where the Black Panther spirit would reenter him.
During this sequence, T’Challa saw his father and knelt before him out of respect. His father told him to stand up. He’s a king.
You’re a leader. You need to stand up. Take responsibility. And be a leader.
A man who has not prepared his children for his death has failed as a father
I loved this T’Chaka Black Panther quote. T’Chaka tells his son that a man’s duty is to prepare their children for the death of their parents. Not so much in their death but in being a man and standing up for what is right. Preparing the next generation, if you will…
Great leaders know they will have to pass the leadership baton. They will not be leaders forever. There is a next generation leader coming.
It is your duty to prepare the next generation of leaders. You must be willing to reach down and pull up new leaders.
Seek to train new servant leaders. Leaders who will continue to carry on your leadership legacy.
I have seen too much to turn a blind eye.
Nakia was involved with undercover work for the Wakandans. She saw a lot of ugliness in her line of work.
She was tired of it. She’d seen enough.
Leaders step up when they’ve seen too much. When they can no longer turn their gaze from the wrong-doings and injustice of others.
If you’re turning a blind eye, stop. See what’s happening and lead.
12. T’Challa/Black Panther:
I’m not here to make a deal.
T’Challa had tracked Klaue and his men to an underground casino. There, he ran into Agent Ross (Martin Freeman), who was also after Klaue and the vibranium that had been stolen.
Agent Ross asked T’Challa to make a deal. T’Challa wasn’t there to make a deal. He knew his mission: To capture and/or kill Klaue.
There will be times when people want you to make a deal. And a deal isn’t what is needed at that time.
Be willing to stand firm for your vision. For your mission.
13. The world is watching leaders:
T’Challa was able to capture Klaue. With Klaue in his grasp, T’Challa was ready to kill him.
There were South Koreans surrounding T’Challa and Klaue, waiting to see what would happen. Would T’Challa kill Klaue or would he show mercy?
With cameras filming, T’Challa realized the world was watching the King of Wakanda.
You may or may not realize this but there are people watching you. They’re looking for leaders to look up to.
Choose your actions wisely. Live your life and lead like people are watching. Give them something to hope for and strive towards.
14. Ulysses Klaue:
To think, I saw you as some crazy American…
Klaue had partnered with Erik Killmonger. Because of where Killmonger had come from, Klaue saw him as an American. A crazy one at that.
Yet there was more to Killmonger than the life he lived in America. Killmonger was a Wakandan. He was T’Challa’s cousin.
You can easily judge someone and assume the wrong things about them. From the way someone dresses to their haircut to the tattoos on their arms, you will want to assume things.
Be willing to hold back your judgment. Be willing to see people for who they truly are.
15. Great leaders accept the challenge before them:
Killmonger challenged T’Challa to a battle for the title of King of Wakanda. T’Challa accepted the challenge.
You will see many challenging things as you lead. There will be people problems. Organizational issues. And more.
For each challenge, you will have to accept or deny the challenge. Know when to accept and when to decline.
16. Not all leadership transitions are good:
Sadly, T’Challa lost the challenge to Killmonger. Not only did T’Challa lose, Killmonger also killed his Obi-Wan like mentor Zuri (Forest Whitaker).
Because of his win, Killmonger transitioned to the role of King. He was now the leader of the Wakandan people.
Killmonger’s transition to leader was not good for the people. They were now under the rule of a psychopath.
Your transition out of leadership and a new leader into your position may not go smoothly. You may discover the new leader is not good for the organization or the people.
This happens from time to time. Do your best to help with leadership transitions. You can give your opinion but you also have to let events take their course.
17. There are people who are loyal to titles and those who are loyal to leaders:
W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) chose to side with Killmonger. Nakia chose to side with T’Challa and the people of Wakanda.
W’Kabi saw a chance to rise in power and chose to follow the man who had the title. Screw the past, the future was with the man with power.
Nakia knew the people were not going to be ruled by a kind and wise leader. Instead, they were going to be led by a man out for vengeance. This mattered to her. She knew Killmonger would never be the true king of Wakanda.
Be aware of who’s following you and why. They may only follow you because of your title. Or they may follow you because they believe in you.
Find people who are willing to follow you because they believe in you instead of their desire for power.
18. Bad leaders are selfish:
The Heart-Shaped Herbed allowed the person who ingested it to visit with their ancestors and gain the power of the Black Panther. Because this herb was physical, other people could obtain the herb and attempt to summon the Black Panther.
Killmonger, in his lust for power, ordered the Wakandan people to burn the field where the herb grew. He wanted no one else to be able to harness the power.
Goodness, this made me mad. Seeing Killmonger attempt to keep all the power to himself in a selfish act was frustrating.
Seeing this in real life is even more devastating.
People are ruined because of their desire for power. They want to be in control and lording over their followers.
Don’t do this, please. Be a generous leader. Someone who cares for the people and the next generation.
Your heart is full of hatred. You are not fit to be king.
T’Challa recognized the hate in Killmonger’s heart. Killmonger didn’t want to lead because it was the right thing to do. He wanted to lead so he could extract vengeance against those who had wronged him.
Leaders need to check their hearts. They need to see WHY they’re leading and for what reason.
Always check your heart. See where you are at. Make sure you’re in a good spot.
20. Organizations and businesses change:
For all of its existence, Wakanda was hidden behind a wall of technology. The outside world saw a third-world country. The reality was Wakanda had technology the outside world had never seen.
Things changed after the events of the Black Panther movie. In the first Black Panther stinger, T’Challa chose to reveal the REAL Wakanda to the world.
This changed Wakanda. They began to build science centers and outreach centers. They began to work with the outside world.
You may desire for your organization or business to stay the way it is. To keep the people you’ve always had with you or to reach the same people.
You need to look and see if your organization needs to change. You may need to help the organization evolve and improve.
Wise build bridges. Foolish build barriers.
In another Black Panther stinger, T’Challa tells others that the wise build bridges. They don’t create barriers.
The same goes for great leaders. Great leaders build bridges. They build relationships and connect people with one another.
Be a bridge builder.
Come, there is much more for you to learn.
In the last post credit Black Panther scene, you will see a hut. From the hut emerges a man with one arm. That man is Bucky Barnes or, as you may remember him, Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan)!?!?
Nakia is there talking to him. She tells him there is much more to learn. He’s not finished growing yet.
Leaders are never finished growing either. There’s always something more for them to learn.
So, as we wrap up these leadership lessons from Black Panther, remember this. There is much more for you to learn.