Leadership lessons from Colonel McCullough of ‘War for The Planet Of The Apes’

Guess what? you can learn leadership lessons from watching movies. Here’s my takeaway from the movie ‘War for The Planet of The Apes’

Disclaimer: This lesson in leadership motivation comes from the perfect antagonist, Colonel McCullough.

While Caesar preaches the amazing heart-touching slogan “APE. TOGETHER. STRONGER”, you see him rambling from his path, seeding another Koba inside him, getting too emotional, and losing focus from his key responsibilities as a leader in pursuit of personal revenge and lack of prioritisation.

leadership-lessons-colonel-mccullough-war-planet-apesBoth Caesar & Colonel have their personal reasons, and they showcase this at some point in the movie. However, we will keep our focus on the leadership learnings rather than going into a discussion about who was better.

In the real world, a true leader needs unswerving laser-sharp focus to achieve legendary results with their teams and work. Need Inspiration? Enter: Colonel McCullough.

Let’s get to the key takeaways:

“This is our last stand. And if we lose, it will be a Planet of Apes.”

Colonel’s motivation is strong. His actions have urgency and a strong desire.

“There are times when it is necessary to abandon our humanity to save humanity.”

Colonel is willing to sacrifice, and go all in to win. He is willing to let go of any attachments and pre-occupations for what’s really necessary and important. He also prioritises long term gain over short term.

“You are impressive. Smart as hell. You’re stronger than we are. But you’re taking this all much too personally. So emotional!”

Colonel McCullough giving a quick leadership lesson to Caesar. He also points out Caesar’s way of determining his actions by personal and emotional prejudice.

“We find ourselves on the eve of battle against this beasts, and years from now, you can tell your children: I fought… to protect this world.”

Colonel on legacy. His purpose is clear. He knows his legacy like a good leader should.

“I pulled the trigger”

Colonel tells Caesar how he had to kill his own son to save humanity. The strongest leaders in the world, with true legacy, have sacrificed and taken decisions which might seem to have short-term loss but aimed at yielding long-terms gains.

And lastly, let’s deep dive into one of the most impactful scenes from the movie.

The Colonel: Have you finally come to save your apes?
Caesar: I came for you.
The Colonel: For me?
The Colonel: My God. Look at your eyes. Almost human.

Caesar says “I came for you” which clearly indicates a personal war. While the Colonel fails to understand this intent and says “For me?”. Think about this: Colonel killed Caesar’s wife and son a while ago and this seems to be a question he is wrapping his head around which sounds unnatural. But he is very focused and doesn’t seem to understand why Caesar would come for him and not for his apes. This gives us a true insight of a mindset like Colonel’s.

While our sacrifices are small compared to the HISTORY of wars and leaders, 90% of us get left behind in modern-day warfare of business and work. Inspiration is everywhere. Learn from the leaders and implement what can help you grow in life.

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