5 Leadership Lessons from The LEGO Movie

lego movie

While I’m an engaged reader of leadership books, expert blogs, and HBR, sometimes great leadership lessons come from unlikely sources–in this case, The LEGO movie.  According to the movie website summary, www.thelegomovie.com, this 3D animated story follows Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO construction worker who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world from President Business, an uptight CEO.  Below are my Top 5 lessons in leadership from The LEGO Movie.

  1. As a mentor, sometimes you need to believe in the person more than they believe in themselves.  When Vitruvius, a mystic voiced by Morgan Freeman, deems Emmet “The Special,” Emmet doesn’t believe he has what it takes to save the world.  Vitruvius sees something in Emmet and encourages, trains, and provides constructive feedback.  (My favorite is along the lines of, “That is a really dumb idea.”  Vitruvius tells it like it is.)  Eventually, Emmet believes in himself and makes the contribution he is destined to make.
  2. Strategic thinking is important, but don’t forget team-building and execution.  The “master-builders” are innovative, smart, and they don’t follow the directions.  But they can’t accomplish anything as a team because they are all creating their own individualistic creations.  Our organizations are more impactful when collaboration has at least equal weight to “lone-wolf” innovative thinking.  Lone-wolves typically hate this fact.
  3. The best CEOs, while justifiably laser-focused on the organization’s goals, still take time to be influenced by the front-line and adjust their course.  President Business, voiced with hilarity by Will Ferrell, had a vision and he was executing with excellence.  But the results he achieved became much better when he listened to Emmet and adjusted course.
  4. Superheroes are not always the best boyfriends (ok, not a leadership lesson, but a good lesson nonetheless).  See Batman as he leaves his girlfriend in a crisis situation so he can go party with some guys he just met.
  5. We are all “the special.”  This is my favorite lesson.  We are all uniquely able to bring our talents and passions to the world and leave a lasting legacy.  Everything that happens in a workday–customer service, meetings, e-mail–would be better if each of us could balance humility with a deep understanding that we have unique worth, that we are all “the special.”

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