Many non comic book fans like myself had not heard about the Guardians of the Galaxy before the first movie was released. Yet the movie ended up becoming a massive hit and capturing the hearts and minds of movie fans around the world.
When the Guardians were first introduced to us, they were a bunch of lonely misfits with their own personal agendas, who eventually ended up teaming up to save the galaxy from Ronan the Accuser, an evil cosmic villain. The characters were imperfect in so many ways and had their own personal struggles, which made the audience connect with them on a personal level.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 continues the story of our flawed heroes and their adventurous journey through the galaxy. As a motivational speaker and a leadership keynote speaker, what fascinated me the most about the movie was its amazing leadership lessons.
1. Don’t abandon your values for power
The key storyline of Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is Peter Quill’s relationship with his father, something he’s been longing for his entire life. Quill’s father reveals himself to be a celestial, and teaches Quill how to harness the celestial power so that he can help him take over the universe and destroy a countless number of lives. Despite knowing that he will lose his god like abilities, Quill chooses to destroy his evil father with the help of his friends and save the universe.
The most iconic leaders in our history are the ones who seeked a better society, not power. Stick to your values no matter how tempting it might be to sacrifice them, and the trust you earn from people will be unbreakable.
2. Your weakness could be your greatest strength
What makes the characters of Guardians of the Galaxy so interesting is that they have many personal traumas, flaws and insecurities. Drax struggles to move on from the loss of his family and spends every waking moment wanting to avenge it . Quill mourns the death of his mother everyday. Gamora is consumed by her hatred for thanos. Rocket raccoon is a lab experiment with a deep sense of loneliness. And Baby Groot is barely 1 feet tall.
Throughout the film we get to see how the Guardians use personal their flaws to their advantage. Drax uses his rage to battle monsters. Ego revealing that he deliberately killed Quill’s mother is what motivates him to fight Ego despite him being his father. Baby Groot’s smaller size allows him to travel through tiny underground tunnels and plant a bomb on Ego’s giant brain which ultimately destroys him.
Every weakness has a corresponding strength. The most disorganized person could also be the most creative person in your team. Great leaders realize this and they get the most out of people by identifying their weaknesses that are really strengths in disguise
3. All decisions have consequences
In one crucial scene, we learn that Stakar Ogord, a legendary Ravagers captain had exiled Yondu for making decisions that were against the Ravagers code.
A short while later, the Ravagers realize that Yondu is willing to protect Quill against their will. They oust him, torture him and take away his fin, rendering him powerless. Although Yondu eventually manages to regain his authority with the help of Kraglin, Rocket and Baby groot.
All decisions you make as a leader have consequences. Disagreements and disappointments between you and your team are inevitable. Smart leaders accept responsibility for their decisions and their outcomes, and use them as an opportunity to learn and grow.
4. You’ll need to make sacrifices
After Baby Groot successfully manages to plant the bomb at Ego’s core, the Guardians are given 5 minutes to escape before the entire planet explodes. Wanting to redeem himself from the mistake of trafficking thousands of children to Ego, Yondu decides to stay back and fight him together with Quill.
As the planet begins to dissolve, Yondu and Quill barely manage to escape into space using Rocket’s jetpack. Upon realizing that they have only one space suit remaining, Yondu decides to put it on his adoptive son and sacrifice himself to save his life, creating on of the most powerful scenes in the entire movie.
Yondu’s body is taken back to the ship, and Quill mourns his death as he realizes that Yondu had always been the father figure he was searching for his entire life. Yondu’s body gets cremated and has his ashes scattered into space, and the Ravagers who learned about Yondu’s sacrifice, show up to honour him with fireworks. Stakar, who banished Yondu and criticized him for making terrible decisions, changes his opinion and decides to honour him upon hearing about his heroic death.
While sacrificing your life is the last thing i would recommend you do, there are many other forms of sacrifice you will have to make as a leader. You will often have to put others before yourself and put aside your personal interests. By doing so not only will you redeem yourself from your previous mistakes, you will also gain the respect and trust of your team for being a dedicated and honest leader.
5. Relate to others and build emotional connections
On several occasions during the movie, the Guardians use each other’s company to get through tough situations. The unspoken romance between Quill and Gamora often lead to awkward exchanges that leave Quill feeling frustrated and confused. After one such conversation, Drax approaches Quill and offers him emotional support by talking to him about his situation. In one touching scene, Mantis shares her story with Drax and proceeds to place her hand on him and uses her special ability to feel the pain that Drax has been feeling since he lost his family. During an intense argument, Yondu explains to Rocket that he can relate to his sense of loneliness because he’s been feeling the same way his entire life.
All these moments strengthen the bond between our characters, which ultimately helps them become the team that is capable of protecting our universe.
Successful leaders make emotional connections with people and build environments where everyone is encouraged to do the same. Having the ability to empathize with others allows you to make strong human connections, which builds involvement and engagement. A highly engaged group is always more committed, productive and loyal.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 explores the dynamics between a diverse group of beings who learn to get along for the greater good. As they battle to resolve external conflicts, they manage to resolve their internal conflicts by supporting and learning from each other. Not only do they create a better universe for everyone, they also guide each other to become the best versions of themselves. Isn’t that what true leadership is about?