Dylan O’Brien puts those post-apocalyptic landscapes to the test.
Photo credit: Richard Foreman, Jr, SMPSP/Twentieth Century Fox.
Do you trust your leader in times of desperation?
What would you do if you found yourself in a desolate landscape surrounded by obstacles and disease beyond your wildest imagination? Will you give up and get swallowed up by the desperation around you or will you resist and fight for a better future?
This is the reality for Thomas and the rest of the Gladers in the Maze Runner sequel – The Scorch Trials. They find out that they have been hoodwinked by their rescuers and are actually once again under the rule of the very people who put them into the maze. They escape only to find themselves exposed to disease and desperation in the Scorch.
A few characters stand out and teach us about different aspects of leadership. The Scorch, which is the playing board out of which only a few may survive, represents a harsh working environment full of hidden pitfalls and dangers. A number of leadership lessons stand out in this movie, which easily raise the question: What kind of leader would you become under severe conditions?
Seeking a kindred spirit
Aris, the loner, teaches us about leadership in a different sense. As one of the longest residents of the bunker, he notices odd things going on. However, he is aware that he is not influential enough to get the other residents to listen to him.
Aris represents the majority of us who may recognise that things may be wrong but are not comfortable being the one to initiate change.
When Thomas and his group arrive, Aris notices that Thomas is not afraid to stand up to authority. Therefore, he seeks out Thomas, lets him in on what he knows and subsequently helps himself and the other Gladers escape.
Truly, leadership comes in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t necessarily mean having to be the one in the forefront rallying people and making a change. Sometimes it could be as simple as recognising and assisting someone who is influential enough to make that change.
Therefore, recognise your own leadership style and act on it.
To trust or not to trust
The Scorch represents the trials and tribulations that leaders face in their leadership journeys. Often, in the face of countless obstacles, leaders have to instil trust in those that they lead. And since trust is a two-way street, we also have to trust others in return.
Thomas teaches us about the importance of trust in leadership. At times it seems that he is leading the Gladers out from the frying pan into the fire. As a natural consequence, his leadership is often questioned. However, because of the group’s loyalty and trust towards him, they continue to stand by his decisions albeit their inner insecurities.
Likewise, as leaders, we have to create an atmosphere of trust and honesty amongst those we lead. This can be done by encouraging open communication without fear of judgment or repercussions.
Therefore, trust and be trusted.
When push comes to shove
Thomas also teaches us that leadership is not a bed of roses. As leaders, we may not have all the right answers. At times we may even doubt ourselves or the decisions we are about to make, just as Thomas does when times in the Scorch pushes him to take extremes measures.
Thomas does not allow the stress of the moment to get the better of him. Instead, he focuses on the goal – to find the resistance group known as the “Right Arm”, and to keep moving forward.
As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. As leaders, we may not necessarily know all the answers. But if we remain focused and keep moving towards our goal, we will eventually get there.
Therefore, see the bigger picture, keep your goal in sight and move forward regardless of current situations.
A call to be tough
Winston, a pivotal character in the movie who starts off as a follower, teaches us that sometimes as leaders we will have to make tough decisions for the betterment of the group as a whole. These decisions may involve hurting oneself or the whole group.
Winston’s decision to sacrifice himself when he is infected with disease saddens the rest of the Gladers. But it is a decision that has to be made to prevent himself from turning into a full Crank and eventually becoming a threat to the Gladers.
Likewise, as leaders, we may be put into positions that require us to step down as leaders or to let go of certain members of the group for the betterment of the whole group. Such decisions are bittersweet but if you ever find yourself in such a situation, take charge and make the best decision regardless of how hard it may be.
Therefore, recognise when a tough call has to be made and be courageous in carrying it out.
In short, leadership may seem daunting as it involves trust, adversity and tough decisions. However, have faith that it can be done. Many have led, many are leading and many more will soon lead.
Even if you may not be comfortable leading people per se, take after resilient leaders whom you see around you and use your strengths to bring change to your community.