I know The Minions is supposed to be a children’s movie, all about fun and laughter, and I am not to read too much into it or between the lines. But, when I was watching the movie I realised it offered, surprisingly, some deep lessons in leadership and entrepreneurship. So, if you have not watched the movie yet and plan to, then stop reading right now for there are SPOILERS AHEAD.
- Take Risks: Kevin, Stuart and Bob need not have made that perilous journey out of the cold, snow-covered cave the Minions had made their home. They could have wallowed in collective misery. But they did not give up and so found the ‘boss’ they wanted so desperately. A number of startups/companies flounder because the founder/leader is scared to try something new. Only if you take a big risk, do you stand the chance of a big reward.
- Hedge your bets: The entire Minion colony did not follow Kevin when he hatched the plan to go find them a big, bad boss. They only sent guitar-strumming Stuart and little Bob with Kevin. When expanding into new categories or creating a new product, it might not make sense for the entire team to change track until there is validation that the new category or product works.
- Take care of your team: It was Scarlet Overkill’s super villainy that made the Minions want to work for her. But they wanted the soft beds, bedtime stories and, of course, bananas to be happy with her. You might be the biggest and 'baddest boss' and your minions might have joined you because of your badness. But if you are bad to your minions they are not going to stay with you for too long.
- Don’t be scared of super minions: Scarlet Overkill could not handle it when Bob was crowned King, even though the Minions handed her the crown and she was able to achieve her longest held wish. This was her downfall. A leader should not be worried about being overshadowed by super talented juniors. Rewarding and encouraging them will be the key to your success.
- Take responsibility: When Scarlet Overkill went nuclear against the Minions, Kevin did not cower behind the rest of the Minions. He took on Scarlet and protected his 'buddies', since he was their leader and he was responsible (primarily) for her hating the Minions. A leader will not blame his juniors nor expect them to take responsibility for his errors. Kevin earned the Minions’ respect and so will you as a leader when you stand up for your team.
- Jump for the bigger opportunity: Despite everything Scarlet Overkill did to the Minions Kevin did run behind her, as she was the biggest super villain he had ever known (a genetic flaw of the Minions). But the moment Kevin lay his eyes on Felonious Gru he knew—here was a bigger, better villain. Many leaders, especially startup founders, cannot let go of their product or the market they were targeting even if a bigger opportunity slaps them in the face. Don’t be so married to your idea that you do not exploit a larger market.
(These were the leadership lessons I learnt from The Minions. What do you think?)