4 Leadership Lessons from Ender’s Game


I made a post about this movie before, but nothing in depth.  Throughout the movie Col Graff is grooming Ender to be a Commander.  He chose him to be a Commander because he was standing out as a leader.   I wanted to re-attack with a few key points on leadership lessons.  Here are a few that stand out.  

Major Gwen Anderson: After you had already won, why did you continue to hit him? Did you enjoy it?
Ender Wiggin: Knocking him down was the first fight, I wanted to win all the others. So they’d leave me alone

It’s a harsh statement and a harsh strategy, but Ender wasn’t trying to just win a single battle.  He was not only preparing for future battles, but he was being strategic in preventing a battle.  We learn that leaders don’t just prepare their team to win a single battle, but we prepare them to win future battles.  Leaders train/coach/develop their team to be the best so they are prepared for whatever challenge or objective they are given. 

Just as mentioned, leaders prepare their team to be the best they can be.  We develop them, we invest in their development.

Colonel Hyrum Graff: We need minds like yours, Ender. You’ll be the finest commander we’ve ever trained.
Ender Wiggin: So I’m not the first?
Mazer Rackham: No, but you will be the last.

Col Graff chose Ender because he saw his potential.  He saw what he could be, he saw what he was.  A leader.  He knew that he could lead.  Col Graff pulled Ender or in a way, soloed him out because he wanted to invest in his development.  Leaders at any level do the same thing.  They see potential and they often invest in the progression of other’s abilities.  Leaders strive to help others be better, do better and know better.  The statement leaders create more leaders is quite fitting for this.  We can’t create more leaders if we don’t invest in other people.  Leaders invest in the potential of others.

Ender: Ma’am, I think Bean or Alai have a better handle on this than I do. 

In this scene, the team is in class and the instructor calls on Ender to answer a question.  Ender,  knowing that he isn’t knowledgeable on the topic says that Bean or Alai have a better take on it than he does.  This shows that leaders are transparent and that they have the courage to say they do not know all the answers.  Ender pointed out the teammates that did know the answer.  As a leader, we may not know all of the answers, it’s our job to point out the people that do.  Transparency shows truth.  With truth builds trust and it builds the confidence of your teammates.  Leaders are transparent. 

Ender's Game

Ender: Welcome to Dragon Army. Bunking will be arranged with youngest at the front and veterans at the back.
Bean: Ender, every other commander has their seniors closest to the door.
Ender: Well, I don’t intend to be like every other commander.
Bernard: What am I doing here, Ender? You don’t even like me.
Ender: I didn’t select this army, Bernard. But I intend to make it the best in this school. I think you can help make that happen. Am I wrong?
Bernard: No, sir.
Ender: You’ll respect one another. If anyone has a idea they think is better than mine, I want to hear it. I can’t be expected to do all the thinking in this army, can I, Bean?

Ender has now been given his own team to lead.  In this scene, Ender ensures that everyone one the team is essential.  He begins to create a foundation for teamwork.  He says that if anyone has a better idea than his he wants to hear it.  At this moment, he is empowering his team.  He is giving them authority to speak up. Unlike the other Commander, Bonzo.  He wants to use his team to the best of his abilities and he can’t build a cohesive team if they do not feel empowered to make decisions as well.  Leaders empower their teammates.  Bonzo lead his team with fear.  We saw it many times when he demanded things be done his way.  Ender chose to be unlike other teams and leaders.  He found value in his team and empowered them to do what’s right.  Leaders empower. 

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