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Five leadership lessons from Iron Man 2

With the summer blockbuster season in full swing who better to look to for leadership insight than our favorite metal-clad hero: Iron Man. In its first three weeks Iron Man 2 has grossed more than $250 mil, and ticket sales keep climbing. Moviegoers around the country have watched in wonder of our armored hero's bold moves and even sharper wit, but how many have really dug in to find the leadership pointers? On its surface Iron Man 2 is a good action flick with snappy one-liners and intense fight scenes, but in case you didn't catch them, it also showcases seven high-flying leadership insights:

1. Stay true to you

No one's the boss of Tony Stark, and his success is a result of his unwavering commitment to the things he believes in. While this leadership maxim is highly touted, only the brave truly embrace it. For Stark, protecting the innocent is a passion that neither the federal government nor Whiplash will stand in the way of.

2. Spend time alone

As in the first Iron Man film, Tony Stark does his best work in solitude. Without the constant noise and distraction of everyday life, Stark is able to spend time distilling lessons of the past in order to create a better way forward. Similar to William Deresiewicz's powerful message to West Point plebes in 2009, Stark doesn't simply "marinate in conventional wisdom". Like many innovators, he carves out large chunks of time in order to develop new ideas and new ways to apply old ideas, and he emerges from this process re-energized.

3. Surround yourself with good people

Pepper Potts, Rhodey and Hogan are the best kind of people for any leaders to be surrounded by. They're loyal, they're smart, they think for themselves, and they share Stark's vision. In short, Iron Man has their backs, and they'll do whatever they can to help him. All leaders should strive to attract dedicated and competent people to their team.

4. Don't back down

Iron Man believes in what he does and isn't afraid to get tough. Although transforming into a quasi-superhero in your board room might not be possible, Iron Man has built in the armor and weapons needed to go the distance for his cause. Heroes protect the innocent, and Iron Man is no different. He's a dedicated fighter who's not going to let a challenge or fear get in the way of achieving his goals.

5. Keep it fun

You have to give Stark credit for seeing the value of good puns and plenty of fun. While he'd be better off partying a little less, Stark embraces the value of keeping things light and enjoying the moment. Even in the middle of a life-threatening barrage Tony cracks some jokes and stays loose, and he's better for it. Tension clouds decision-making and restricts reactions, and talented leaders have a knack for reducing worries with a little beneficial levity.

Like other good leaders, Stark is aware of his weaknesses but instead chooses to focus on his strengths. Did you see the movie? Did you find any inspiration in Tony Stark? What other movies offer useful leadership lessons?

By Joe Frontiera  |  June 2, 2010; 11:50 AM ET  | Category:  Pop Culture Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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