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Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ sets the tone for leaders

Published: 02:05PM April 5th, 2018

315th Mission Support Group Commander

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. — My family and I had movie night a couple of weeks ago, and I was immediately struck by the leadership modeling prevalent in the movie, Marvel’s “Black Panther.”

For years, Air Force Professional Military Education has promoted “Twelve O’Clock High” as part of the curriculum.

“Twelve O’Clock High,” a World War II depiction of leadership challenges, is now dated, and in my opinion, boring and not relevant to our up-and-coming leaders. We now have a new, much more exciting movie that should be on the PME listing for leadership movies, “Black Panther.”

The movie represented the status quo leader example in the main character, T’Challa, the Black Panther. The change agent or courageous leader example is his love interest Nakia. The integrity dilemma leader is the commanding General Okoye, and the toxic leader is the villain Erik Killmonger.

This story contained such great examples of what we are trying to teach young leaders. I was also amazed at how quickly the leadership models could be identified.

We all desire our leaders to be inspirational and set a vision of an achievable goal greater than themselves. Unfortunately, leaders often fall short, only continuing with the status quo, because they are distracted by the day-to-day tasks and fires that need to be managed.

The courageous leader is the one we admire — who faces bad news without giving up, takes on difficult situations with confidence in their people and can reach their goal.

All leaders face the integrity dilemma; it represents the leader who has to maintain their integrity, even when it would be easier not to.

Lastly, no leader wants to be defined as toxic, but some leaders can get caught up in the drive and they forget about the people behind the mission.

So, I would challenge you as you watch “Black Panther,” to look at the leadership displayed by the characters and determine your path to that inspirational and courageous leader. If you do, we will all cheer as the good guys win.