A Reel Leadership Article
Jackie Chan is inspiring. At 63 years old, Chan will put younger men to shame in the action and stunts he will do in his movies.
The Foreigner (based on the book The Chinaman) is Jackie Chan’s latest U.S. release. It tells the story of Quan Ngoc Minh (Jackie Chan) and his story of revenge.
After his daughter was killed in a London bombing, Quan goes on a rampage. His desire to find his daughter’s killer and bring him to justice, his justice, cannot be quenched.
In the vein of Liam Neeson’s Taken, Chan is back.
Now, let’s take a look at the Leadership Lessons from The Foreigner.
Caution: The Foreigner spoilers below
Leadership Lessons And Quotes From Jackie Chan’s The Foreigner
1. Being in a rush could cost you:
Quan’s daughter, Fan (Katie Leung), was picked up from school by Quan. She wanted to rush to the dress shop to pick up her dress for a dance.
There was to be no dilly-dallying as she needed the dress. And other people were already heading to the dress shop.
When they arrived, Fan jumped out the car while Quan was trying to park the vehicle. She rushed into the doors of the shop. Minutes later, there was a large explosion.
Fan was caught in the explosion and died.
Rushing to action could be dangerous – Leadership lessons from The Foreigner
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Had Fan had more patience, she might not have died. Quan and Fan may have arrived at the dress shop after the bombing. Or she may have been in a position that wouldn’t have caused her death.
You may fall into the trap of rushing to get things done. You have to be the first to market or the first to present to a new audience.
The desire to rush and be first is natural. You know the early bird gets the worm. The early bird may get the worm but there’s another saying. The second mouse gets the cheese.
Consider the consequences of rushing your work. Will your work suffer? Are there people who may be hurt? Could you forget important elements of your work and falter?
Be willing to take things slow. Be thorough.
2. Ask lots of questions:
I’ll be honest. I struggle with asking questions. Quan did not.
In The Foreigner, Quan asked plenty of questions of the police officer he was talking to.
Why my daughter?
Will you catch who did this?
Will they be punished?
Quan knew he had to ask questions. They would help him get the answers he needed.
Are you willing to ask questions? What questions are you asking? Where are the questions leading?
Great leaders know they need to ask questions on a regular basis.
Create a list of questions you can ask other people. Then begin to ask those questions.
3. Be persistent:
Man, was Quan ever a persistent bugger. He continued to show up at the police station, day after day after day.
He continued to be a presence in the police station. His desire was to be there when answers were found.
Great leaders not only ask great questions, great leaders are persistent. They continue leading even when others would give up.
Be persistent. Don’t give up.
4. Quan Ngoc Minh:
I failed them.
Over the years, Quan experienced loss. He first lost his two eldest daughters. Next, he lost his wife. Finally, he lost his youngest daughter.
While Quan wasn’t responsible for their deaths, he accepted the responsibility for them. As a father and husband, his responsibility was to protect them. He didn’t.
Quan didn’t shy away or try to deflect blame. He accepted the situation and took action.
As leaders, you’re going to fail your team. A bad decision, a temper lost, or some other leadership faux pas and you’ve failed your team.
Great leaders know they’re going to screw up. But they also know they can accept responsibility and move forward.
5. Be prepared:
When Quan was ready to take action, he knew he had to prepare. He went to a local Wickes hardware store and began to purchase supplies. He loaded up his truck and began his journey of revenge.
The items he purchased helped him prepare to take on the bad guys. He knew he had to be ready to face them. And ready he was.
Great leaders prepare – Leadership lessons from The Foreigner
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Great leaders know they have to be prepared for the regular trappings of leadership. They prepare for what may come.
To do so, they put the right tools into place. They choose the right people to be on the team. And they begin to act.
Be prepared to lead your team to where they need to go.
6. The ordinary can be dangerous:
Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan) was a former IRA member who became a politician (or did he?). Quan had seen Liam on the news and believed Liam could get him the answers he needed.
Upon entering Liam’s office, he was stopped at the front desk. Quan was carrying a bag of groceries and a small swiss army knife. The guards laughed at the ordinary food he was carrying and then Liam invited him in.
What a mistake.
Those ordinary grocery items were a lot more dangerous than they looked. Quan was able to use the soda bottles, matches, and string to create a bomb.
He uses the bomb to blow up the bathroom and send a clear message to Liam. He needed answers.
Leaders face ordinary problems every day. The scary part is these ordinary problems can cause you more trouble than you could imagine.
Be ready to face the ordinary problems with extraordinary wisdom.
7. Make your message clear:
The bomb left no doubt as to who had set it. Quan wanted it to be that way.
He wanted Liam and his men to know it was him who had left the bomb. And he was ready to find out who had murdered his daughter.
Make your message clear – Leadership lessons from The Foreigner
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Great leaders know they have to send clear messages to their team. Their speeches and presentations are created to send a specific message at a specific time so people will know what is happening.
Be sure your message is clear. Muddied messages distort your intentions.
8. Know your mission:
Quan had a very specific mission in The Foreigner. His mission was to find and kill the people responsible for his daughter’s death. Nothing could stand in his way because he knew his mission and was set in carrying it out.
Know your mission – Leadership lessons from The Foreigner
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Great leaders know their mission. Their mission is their compass for the actions they take every day.
Know your mission. Make it clear and let it guide you.
9. Commander Richard Bromley:
I have one condition.
Commander Richard Bromley (Ray Fearon) met with Liam. To work with Liam, he told him he had one condition.
He wouldn’t work with Liam if the condition wasn’t met. He knew what he needed out of the deal and he was going to get it.
Sometimes in leadership you have to work with those you don’t like. Bromley had to with Liam. You will at some point as well.
When this time comes, make sure you know what you need. Make an ask during the formation of your partnership.
10. Liam Hennessy:
I’ve underestimated him.
Liam had underestimated the skills of Quan. What he learned about Quan was scary.
He was former Special Forces. Much of his military history was redacted. Quan was a scary, scary man to make mad.
Liam’s underestimation of Quan led to a lot of destruction and injury.
You will come across people who are unassuming. You’ll believe they have no value or pose no threat.
Be wary when you feel this way. The ordinary person often offers more than meets the eye.
11. Don’t make assumptions:
Maggie/Sara McKay (Charlie Murphy) approached a man at the bar. He was sitting alone and looking down. When Maggie ordered two drinks, the man thought one was for him.
He was wrong.
She picked up the second drink and poured it into the other glass. She then drank the drink.
We make assumptions based on our past experiences. We see through eyes that use the past to see the future.
Yet there are times when those assumptions of what is to come will be challenged. You’ll move right when you should move left only to discover your business is now floundering.
Be aware of making assumptions.
12. The best-laid plans can go astray:
Liam wanted to find out who the bombers were. He had figured them to be a rogue faction of the IRA. He would be right.
However, his method of figuring out who the bombers were would go sideways.
The plan called for Liam to change the codeword the terrorists in the IRA would use. When the next bombing happened, the rogue faction would use the codeword given and Liam would be able to trace the codeword back to a specific cell.
Well, when the next bombing happened, the terrorists did not give out a codeword. This made Liam’s plan to find the bombers more difficult.
Like Liam, you may have plans to do something great. Those plans may go off the rails and change.
Don’t let the struggles you’ll face with plans stop you from continuing. You must continue even when your plans go astray.
If you don’t, you’ll never succeed. Keep moving forward.
13. Your sins may come to haunt you:
Liam was married to his wife Mary Hennessy (Orla Brady). Yet he was having an affair with Maggie.
This affair came back to haunt Liam. During his hunt for his daughter’s killers, Quan discovered the affair and snapped a picture of the two in a passionate kiss.
Quan then had Liam post the picture on the internet. Everyone now knew Liam was a dirtbag.
Your sins may come to haunt you – Leadership lessons from The Foreigner
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We all screw up and have done things we wish we hadn’t. These past sins may come to haunt you in the future.
Every action you take must be carefully weighed. Decide whether or not you’d like for your actions to be revealed to the public.
If not, don’t do it. This will keep you from having to face the consequences of wrong actions.
Question: Have you seen Jackie Chan’s The Foreigner? If you have, what was a leadership lesson from The Foreigner that you took away? If not, let me know your favorite leadership lesson from The Foreigner that I shared.
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