Here we are again with your leadership coach at the movies. The next time you pop in a movie for the kids, instead of piddling around, grab some popcorn and look for some unexpected inspiration.

Here are three lessons in leadership from one of your kids’ favorite movies:

Exhibit 1: Kung Fu Panda

Yes, the characters are goofy. However, the messages within meant to inspire your kids to believe in themselves can also help you as a leader.

Here are three quotes from Kung Fu Panda that may mean more to you than your kids:

“Your mind is like this water, my friend. When it gets agitated, it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.”

How did Master Oogway, the wise kung fu turtle, know managers often have entirely too many things racing through their minds?

When faced with tough decisions, we often let panic set in while juggling other tasks. What Oogway is preaching in this scene, is that once we relax, prioritize, and focus, finding the solution to a problem becomes much easier.

It’s important to understand how your mind works best. Chances are your performance is highest when you have a clear mental path to a positive outcome.  When wrestling with a tough decision find your way to settle your mind.  Take a break. Go for a run. Talk it out with a colleague. Read or do something entirely unrelated.

A bit of Zen time for yourself can work wonders … or lead you to teach martial arts to a panda.

No matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.”

Oogway is back at it with another knowledge bomb when he inspires Master Shifu to believe in Po (the Kung Fu Panda) as the famed dragon warrior.  This lesson is vital for managers heading up a team they didn’t hire. You can’t manipulate an employee’s skill set and personality to be the hire you would have made for your team. Sometimes the best fit for a person is found in a different team or company all together.  But, if you see real potential you can nurture them to become effective contributors.

In this movie, Shifu alters his training style to appeal to what drives Po — food. And by dangling dumplings in front of the portly panda, Shifu creates a kung fu master.

For team leaders in the business world, don’t try to “fix” employees who don’t excel in certain areas. Instead, try a strengths-based approach where you align someone’s skill sets with matching tasks. This empowers your team and increases morale and productivity.

“There is no secret ingredient. It’s just you.”

This may seem like the most basic and cheesy lesson to pull from the movie, but it doesn’t make it any less meaningful.

The burden of being the dragon warrior was placed upon Po early in the movie, but that didn’t mean he was instantly ready to take on the greatest threat known to China. He grew into his role through hard work, belief and a few bumps and bruises.

The same could be said for those in leadership roles. Just because you made it there doesn’t mean the work is finished. It never stops. We should consistently take risks, adapt, learn, and not shy away from potential failure.

Our Gold Medal Experience aligns with these messages. With advice and insight from former Olympians and trainers you will learn:

  • How to turn limitations to strengths
  • How to perform under pressure
  • The benefits of rest, recovery, and focus
  • And much more…

Learn more about all Experience to Lead programs here.


(Enjoying “Your Leadership Coach at the Movies”? Check out other posts HERE)