Leading like the Skipper
Posted on January 2, 2014
As I was thinking about the greatest movie trilogy of all time “Madagascar”, it just hit me like a fish upside my head how many leadership lessons could be learned from one of the lead characters.
If you are one of the minority members of society that have not had a chance to witness this cinematography greatness, I can only tell you (so I do not ruin the plot) that Skipper is the leader of a highly trained “anti” seal team.
It is from watching this team in action that I noticed the great leadership skills that Skipper displays. I have decided to share a few of them so you can learn, as I have, to lead like the Skipper.
First, we see our first glimpse of leadership from the Skipper when the team is trying to escape being held captive in a prison. It is in conversation with someone who thinks in “black and white” that the Skipper reveals a great leadership lesson. “We don’t belong here, it’s just not natural.” Leadership begins when there is a recognition of needed change. Leaders do not accept the status quo; they understand that things can be better and then they make the necessary steps that bring that change into reality.
Second, in the first movie we find the team heading down the wrong path. This requires the team to take over and change course. During this take over the team needs to hack into a navigation system in order to change their heading. It is during this time when the Skipper tells the private “Don’t give me excuses, GIVE ME RESULTS!” A leader needs to hold his team to high standards to get the best from them. Many times we as leaders lower our standards and accept excuses. We need to remember that failure is filled with excuses, success happens when the team finds ways to overcome those same excuses.
The last lesson I will share today is one that many leaders fail to understand. Leadership is dangerous work. We will need to be honest with our team about the fact that we might fail. During one of their missions, the Skipper has to give one of those speeches to the team. During that speech, we see his honesty. “Embarking into a hostile environment. Kowalski, we’ll need to win the hearts and the minds of the natives. Rico, we’ll need special tactical equipment. We’re gonna face extreme peril. Private probably won’t survive.”
I hope that you can take one or all of these lessons to help with your leadership.