Dr. William Moulton Marston, a celebrated psychologist, created Wonder Woman, who made her comic book debut in 1942. Since then, she has become a symbol of righteousness, female empowerment, and perseverance, among other things. Once again, Wonder Woman has become a pop culture figure with the recent release of a groundbreaking DC Comics film. The movie, which took the box office by storm, has generated a lot of discussion not only among adolescents and teenagers, but also among business professionals and leaders. The character of Wonder Woman, and specifically the newest film has a lot to teach business leaders. Some of the key lessons to take away from Wonder Woman and her movie include the following.
Know when to turn to Plan B.
The Wonder Woman story is heavily inspired by Greek mythology. Diana is fighting against Ares, the god of war, who she believes is responsible for the war going on around her. Certain that Ares is to blame, she tracks him down and kills him, expecting the war to come to a swift end. When the war does not end, she does not give up. She accepts that she had an incomplete picture of what was going on and changes her approach on the fly.
Business leaders often face a similar situation. Sometimes, a market no longer exists for a product that is being developed, or perhaps it comes to light that the idea has already been patented. If this happens, business leaders can either give up or look back on what they have learned to formulate a new plan of attack. Wonder Woman shows us how to do the latter gracefully.
Turn past failures into strengths.
Wonder Woman wears large bracelets that reflect bullets and that are altogether indestructible. However, these trademark bracelets have a dark past. After Hercules enslaved the Amazons, he forced them to wear the cuffs as a symbol of their enslavement. The cuffs are actually called “Bracelets of Submission.” When the Amazons achieved independence, they continued to wear the bracelets proudly as symbols of overcoming oppression.
Virtually all business leaders will encounter failure at some point in their careers, and most will experience it quite often. Rather than viewing these as setbacks and as something to hide and forget, business leaders should embrace failure and learn from it. Reflecting on failure ensures that similar stumbles do not occur again in the future. Like Wonder Woman, we should carry past mistakes as symbols of strength.
Real power comes from determination.
Before Diana became Wonder Woman, she was actually forbidden by her mother from training for combat. Diana disobeys her mother and begins training in secret alongside her aunt, Antiope. When her mother sees Diana’s determination, she consents to further training and asks Antiope to make her the fiercest of the Amazons. Diana is so determined to excel that she eventually becomes a better warrior than Antiope. Business leaders need similar determination and drive. Becoming a leader means putting in hard work from the very beginning. In the end, hard work and determination pay off in a big way. In a way, Wonder Woman’s determination is even more important than her superpowers.
Mentorship is critical to success.
Wonder Woman did not come to greatness on her own. She relied on Antiope, her aunt, for guidance. While she eventually surpassed Antiope in skill, she could not have done so without the mentorship she received. Similarly, business leaders cannot develop all the skills they need on their own. Leaders need to identify skilled mentors whom they can learn from and then, down the line, adopt mentees of their own. While the movie does not depict Diana taking on mentees, in the original comic series she trains Wonder Girl, plus allies such as Paula von Gunther and Etta Candy. If another Wonder Woman movie is made, it’s likely that some of these characters will make an appearance and demonstrate the second half of the mentorship cycle.
Recognize the utility of a rebrand.
Diana and her superhero alter ego, Wonder Woman, have undergone many changes and updates since they were introduced in 1941. Even her name, which was originally Suprema, changed. While the new film was a remarkable fiscal success, not every incarnation of Wonder Woman has done so well. In fact, aside from the comic book and television series starring Lynda Carter, most people cannot point to any other presentations of Wonder Woman. The character was not abandoned despite these failures. Sometimes, all that is needed to make a great idea more relatable is rebranding.
Business leaders should recognize the importance of listening to their employees and customers in order to learn when something doesn’t work. Market tastes change and people make mistakes, but this does not mean that a good idea should be scrapped completely. Business leaders can also rebrand themselves. If what they are doing is not working, it is never too late to think about why and adapt a completely new approach to leadership.