Batman—though a genius—is not usually looked to as the most inspiring of leaders. Although he funds the Justice League, and is often looked to as the tactical leader, Superman has always been the League’s natural leader. But Batman actually has many great leadership lessons for us when studied more in depth.
So while we all sit in suspense to see if former-teenage-vampire Robert Pattinson can return respectability to everyone’s favorite “Caped Crusader,” let’s take a minute to reflect on the 5 best leadership lessons we’ve learned from the “Dark Knight” over the years.
1. Do What You Can with What You’ve Got
Super strength, telepathic control over marine life, laser vision, lightning-fast speed, being made of steel (or even half robotic steel), flight—all of these superpowers belong to the people Batman chooses to associate with. He has no super-human powers or abilities and yet he manages to more than hold his own.
Just like Batman focuses more on what he can do, rather than what he cannot, the best leaders are never found complaining about what is out of their control. Batman has had to come up with some extremely creative solutions to get around not having superpowers to simplify his problems, and the best leaders inspire their teams to do the same.
2. Invest in the Right Tools
“Batman is not ‘nothing without his utility belt,’” but it has definitely saved him time and time again. As a leader, empowering those you lead is your primary responsibility; this means that investing in the right tools to empower your team to do their best work is absolutely essential. Expecting your team to put their best work out every time without giving them the proper tools to do so is like expecting Batman to beat Superman without kryptonite!
Another mistake that leaders often make is assuming they know the best tools for their team without asking for any input. Or even simply buying a tool without doing any research because it’s the first one they see. These types of tools—though still helpful—rarely allow the teams using them to achieve their full potential.
3. Prepare Yourself for Anything Life May Throw at You
“Hey—Where’d you get that crazy light?”
“Keep it in my belt.”
“…For those times when you find yourself in a pitch-black cave in the mountains of Tibet?”
“You’d be surprised how often it comes up.”
There are very few moments when Batman is caught unprepared. Whether it’s Shark Repellant Bat Spray in his helicopter, a motorcycle that comes out when the Batmobile gets damaged, or his trusty Bat-Ice Skates, Batman is always ready. One might say that over preparedness is Batman’s greatest superpower. If being overly prepared has led Batman to be victorious over Joker, Bane, Poison Ivy, Two Face, and hundreds of others, just imagine what your team could do with some proper planning and preparation!
4. “Why Do We Fall, Bruce? So We Can Learn to Pick Ourselves Up.”
Thomas Wayne’s famous quote to his son, Bruce, becomes a central theme in the 2005 classic “Batman Begins” and is the turning point for Batman when Alfred quotes it to him after a seemingly large failure. This quote is so powerful it even ends up being the motivation for Bruce to get out of the pit prison later in the trilogy in “The Dark Knight Rises.”
This message goes far beyond simply motivation though, it should be the central part of every leader’s management philosophy. Falling down or making mistakes is often the best place to truly learn a lesson. Another great Batman quote says, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” The best leaders not only create a safe environment for failure, but also allow others to learn to succeed after failure instead of swooping in to save the day every time.
5. Don’t Count Someone Out Before Giving them a Shot
Not much can be expected from a boy that lost both his parents at the age of 8. And Alfred could have just as easily abandoned this recently orphaned 8-year-old boy rather than take him in, but Alfred decided to become his legal guardian and do everything he could to give young Bruce a shot in life. Certainly no one would have expected him to become one of the greatest heroes ever at the time, which is why leaders should never count someone out simply because they may not look like a superhero right away.
Leadership lessons can be found in the most unlikely places—even your favorite caped crusaders. Every leader has something to teach us. What lessons have you learned from the leaders in your life?