Three key leadership lessons from Chadwick Boseman’s career and life that we can embody as entrepreneurs.
5 min read
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Like much of the world, I was surprised to hear of the actor’s death Chadwick Bosemanwho was highly acclaimed for his performance in Black Panther and other blockbuster hits from the last few years.
To know that in the past four years not only has he made films that have inspired us emotionally and intellectually, but that he has done so during chemotherapy and major surgery, it was a shock. It shows us that he is really leading by example and holding his crown as a leader in every role he played on set and in his real life on set.
Their dedication to playing roles with such grace and strength while maintaining their privacy is something that many Hollywood actors cannot do without alienating fans. Boseman did it however and got us to reconsider the narratives every step of the way.
There are so many lessons we can learn from him. Being a successful entrepreneur doesn’t just mean creating something that will stand the test of time, it also means making real impact and generating meaningful conversations and changes. Not only can you rely on talent, you have to be aware of the narratives you are contributing to. Here are three key lessons from the career and life of Chadwick Boseman that any entrepreneur can epitomize.
1. Build a boat big enough for more than one man
Teamwork creates excellence, and contributing to it means never viewing a role or responsibility as too big or too small. You need to be clear about who is on your team and how they can use their uniqueness to grow your business.
I recently read that Chadwick Boseman was auditioning for supporting roles in the films he was working on. Needless to say, this is unusual for leading actors in big budget films. But Boseman understood that developing a strong team that can perform together is as important as your own performance.
2. Innovation through deepening, not expanding
The concept of “innovation” is being overused in business life. Many companies simply change the packaging and provide the same service, support, and information as everyone else. Innovation doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel, but rather paying attention to details that no one else has thought of. Some of the companies we love are all innovative when they include this trait. Think of Apple, which is putting the world in its pocket with the iPhone, or even Netflix, which has changed the way we consume films and television.
Paying attention to details was something Boseman knew was important. Ryan Coogler, co-writer and director of Black Panther, said Boseman discussed lines and different ways to add depth to each scene. What impressed me, however, was her attention to the smallest details. Coogler says Boseman took care of everything from costumes to military practices. He once said to Coogler: “The people of Wakanda have to dance during the coronations. If they stay there with spears, what makes them different from the Romans? “
Every entrepreneur should embody this level of awareness. Really ask yourself: what makes us different from others?
3. Be brave enough to change the picture
As an entrepreneur, it’s not about putting everything in a neat box and ticking things off a to-do list. The box is constantly being “redefined” so that the parameters can be stretched so that they are never what they were before. It may seem like I am overestimating the importance of what entrepreneurs can create, but aren’t all entrepreneurs who create new opportunities by simply expanding our imaginations beyond what we’d previously thought?
All of the technology we see now – the evolution and change that has happened at speeds that we didn’t expect 20 years ago – is due to entrepreneurs being brave enough to change the box.
That’s why Chadwick Boseman was so popular in all of his roles, from Jackie Robinson, godfather of soul music James Brown, to King T’Challa in Black Panther.
In every role, Boseman excelled not only as an actor, but also as a leader. As entrepreneurs in this climate today, more than ever, we need fewer imitators and more managers who are willing to get involved.