20 Leadership Lessons From Superman: Man Of Steel

To start the Father’s Day weekend, I saw Superman: Man Of Steel with my family.  I loved it!  In addition to the incredible action, there were multiple references to Jesus and Christianity throughout the film.  Here are just a few:

  • Kal-El coming to earth as a baby.
  • Clark Kent living amongst the people in anonymity and reluctant to reveal his true identity and power.
  • A place of solitude to meet with his non-earthly father.
  • Giving people an ideal to live by.
  • Showing continual grace and forgiveness.
  • Being rejected by those he came to serve.
  • Willingly allowing himself to be taken captive by humans.
  • An enemy of his father coming to kill him at age 33.
  • Superman giving himself up to the enemy to save humanity.
  • Going deep into the earth, then rising again and destroying the enemy.
  • Similar to the cross, having a symbol (the S) that gives people hope.

The illustration breaks down though when comparing Superman any further to Jesus.  Nothing compares with Jesus.  As my wife said, “Comparing Superman to Jesus is like comparing a grain of sand to all the beaches on earth.”

Still it is a great movie.  What struck me most about the film was the directionality, influence, and impact Superman’s Kryton and earthly fathers had in shaping his worldview.  It was a reminder this Father’s Day weekend of the incredible influence we, as fathers, have.

The following are 20 leadership quotes and lessons we learn from Superman: Man Of Steel:

  1. Leaders Are Attracted To Success - This project featured an incredible cast of actors that included Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Amy Adams, Richard Schiff, and Laurence Fishburne.
  2. “Endless debates lead to nothing.” – This was spoken by General Zod, played by Michael Shannon, as Jor-El, played by Crowe, attempted to dissuade him from a political coup.  Remember this during your next leadership meeting.
  3. “The world’s too big mom.” – A young Clark.  His mom replies, “Then make it small.” – Leaders accomplish great things through incremental progress.
  4. The Potential Of Unique and Gifted Children – Normal is overrated.  A boyhood Clark had difficulty fitting in.  Perhaps your child does as well.  If so, they may simply be poised for future greatness.
  5. “There is more at stake here than just our lives.  It is the lives around us.” – Jonathan Kent, Clark’s father.  Leaders are aware of their responsibility to those in their sphere of influence.
  6. “People are afraid of what they don’t understand.” - Jonathan Kent
  7. “You’re the answer to are we alone in the universe?” – Jonathan Kent.  The answer to every problem is a person.
  8. “I believe you were sent here for a reason.  And even if you take the rest of your life, you owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is.” – Jonathan Kent.  A great father provides direction and intentionality for their children.
  9. “Hope. The potential of every person can be a force for good.” – Leaders provide solutions and are dealers of hope.
  10. The Responsibility Of Service – Superman leads by example in that for many people helping others is not an option.  It is simply part of our identity.
  11. Fathers Must Be Willing To Give Their Lives For Their Family – Jonathan Kent gave his life protecting his son’s identity and others in general.
  12. “You have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be.  Because that man, good character of bad, is going to change the world.” – Jonathan Kent.  Great fathers give their children a BIG vision for their lives.  Subsequently, a child’s performance is often directly proportionate to their father’s confidence in them.
  13. “Zod can’t be trusted.  I’m not sure the people of Earth can either.” – Superman. Great leaders evaluate reality.
  14. “Sometimes you have to take a leap of father.  The trust comes later.” – Trust can take a lifetime to earn but can be lost at a moment in time.
  15. “You can’t control me but I’m not your enemy.” – Superman.  As a leader, you can’t control others if you can’t control yourself.
  16. “A good death is its own reward.” – Leaders must make finishing well a priority.
  17. “This man is not our enemy.” – It is our actions, not our words, that change people’s minds.
  18. “I exist to only protect Krypton.  This is why I was born.” – General Zod.  Passion can be quite destructive when misguided.
  19. “I grew up in Kansas.  I’m as American as it gets.” – Superman.  Great leaders never forget their past.
  20. “What do you want to do when you’re not saving the world?” – Great leaders always have options.

That is what I gleaned from the movie.  What did you think after seeing it?

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2 Responses to “20 Leadership Lessons From Superman: Man Of Steel”

  1. charles stone on 17/06/2013 #

    Loved these quotes. just saw the movie yesterday. How about “leaders control their emotions when tempted to do so otherwise”–when he was a boy and was taunted by the other boys, he did’t strike back.

  2. Marc on 21/11/2013 #

    I think both Jesus & Superman are great works of fiction, with indeed a lot of similarities. I really like the Leadership lessons you point out. Nicely done!

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