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Leadership lessons from 1998’s blockbuster hit “Armageddon”

If you haven’t watched it in a while, 1998’s “Armageddon” is an incredible work of art. It’s part of the Criterion collection for a reason. Michael Bay is doing full-on Michael Bay, and enough Aerosmith on the soundtrack to last a lifetime. Armageddon is the story of a rag-tag oil “roughnecks” team recruited by NASA to save the world from an impending asteroid collision. If you haven’t watched it, this should be the sign to stop reading and immediately fire that bad boy up on Amazon Prime. When rewatching this movie all I could think of was how good of a boss Harry Stamper, played by Bruce Willis, is. Harry is a determined leader and exhibits many leadership lessons throughout the movie. From his unwavering commitment to his team’s well-being to his ability to make tough decisions under pressure, Harry’s character provides valuable insights into effective leadership.

Resilience and Determination

Harry is an ideal example of resilience and determination in the face of impossible odds. Despite the overwhelming magnitude of the task, Harry never succumbs to despair or doubt. Instead, he remains resolute, constantly motivating his team members and inspiring them to push beyond their limits. Harry’s unwavering determination serves as a reminder that leaders must possess a steadfast resolve, even in the most challenging circumstances, to instill confidence and inspire their teams to achieve the impossible. He exhibits the very definition of “keeping his cool.”

Putting the Team First

One of Harry’s most notable leadership characteristics is his unwavering commitment to the well-being of his team. Harry consistently places his crew’s safety and success above his interests throughout the movie. He ensures everyone has the necessary skills and knowledge to fulfill their roles effectively. Harry also fosters an environment of trust and camaraderie, emphasizing the importance of teamwork and collaboration. His selfless approach to leadership serves as a critical reminder that a leader’s primary responsibility is to empower and support their team members.

Making Tough Decisions

Harry is forced to make several tough decisions with life-or-death consequences in a dire situation. These moments highlight his ability to remain calm under pressure and make swift choices for the greater good. Harry understands that effective leadership sometimes requires making unpopular decisions, but he does so with a clear focus on the mission’s success. His willingness to take calculated risks and shoulder the responsibility of difficult choices demonstrates the importance of decisive leadership, even in the most challenging situations.

Harry’s leadership in Armageddon provides valuable lessons for leaders in any industry. His resilience, determination, unwavering commitment to the team’s well-being, and ability to make tough decisions under pressure set him apart as an exceptional leader. Harry’s character inspires his team and the audience, reminding us of strong leadership’s critical role in overcoming seemingly impossible challenges. By emulating Harry’s leadership traits, individuals can aspire to become influential leaders who inspire and guide their teams to achieve extraordinary results. Software engineering leadership is by no means life-saving missions to life-threatening asteroids, but there are some tidbits I’ll be putting into place for my team, and I hope you do as well.