How X-Men's Mystique Earned Respect As A Leader, And How You Can Too

Spoiler Alert. This article reveals several plot twists of X-Men: Apocalypse.

With an $80 million opening weekend, it looks like X-Men: Apocalypse is the summer’s first blockbuster. The story centers around an evil character, named Apocalypse, who awakens, after thousands of years, to create a new world order. The fate of the Earth hangs in the balance while Mystique leads a young team of X-Men to stop Apocalypse’s world domination.

So, how did Mystique earn the respect of the younger generation of X-Men and successfully lead them to defeat Apocalypse?

What leadership lessons can we learn from her?

1. Be Humble: Humility shows your team that you’re confident, self-aware, and can give credit to others without feeling threatened. Humble leaders make others feel important and valued. Being humble is an important part of any leadership role because it makes your team better. According to a study in the Academy of ManagementJournal, humble leaders are more effective and better liked. Leader humility is also associated with more learning-oriented teams, more engaged employees, and lower employee turnover.

When Mystique first revealed herself to the students of Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters, she was viewed as a messiah-like character because she saved the world at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past. But she quickly dispelled any hero worship and was viewed as just another member of the team, ready to help. As a result, her team stayed with her during the toughest battle of their lives.

2. Be Inclusive: Mystique has her own mission early on in the movie: Rescuing oppressed or enslaved mutants. She exhibited this by setting Nightcrawler free from a cage match with Angel, which he was doomed to lose. She also recognized his special talents and later let him join her team. This simple act of kindness secured his loyalty and he would later prove to be an important asset in their fight against Apocalypse.

Being inclusive means recognizing and appreciating the unique talents and perspectives that each team member brings to the table. When employees feel included at work, they’re better team players and show increased performance.

Mystique said it best when she told a group of mutants, “We can’t control our powers so don’t try to control them, embrace them.”

3. Be Inspiring: With Apocalypse in the process of destroying the world, Mystique looked at Magneto (who was fighting for the opposing side) and said, “We’re going to fight what’s left. Are you?” She issued a challenge, which is an excellent way to inspire others.

Some other ways to inspire your team are by simply caring about others, offering encouragement and telling stories.

One of the most powerful ways to inspire people is by sharing your own experiences, especially if you overcame great odds. I was out of work and homeless in my 20s and rose out of the rubble by selling cars. I showed my team how I did it and how they could change their lives the same way.

The X-Men are mutants. They have a special “X-gene” which gives them supernatural powers. We’re not so different. We’ve all got some sort of superpower. I wish I could fly, but it turns out I’m really a great sales and marketing guy. A good manager helped me figure that out a long time ago and I’ve made a career out of it.

What is your superpower? Are you helping others find theirs?

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Tom Ward