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4 Lessons Leaders in Crisis Can Learn from Watching Avenue 5



Image Credit: HBO

The HBO original Avenue 5 revolves around spoiled rich tourists on a space cruise ship with a questionable crew backed by billionaire owner Herman Judd, it’s confused Cruise Captain Ryan Clark and Matt Spencer, Head of Passenger. The female crew and passengers are a force to reckon with from Billie McEvoy the engineer to a passenger aptly named Karen.

In many ways each character showcases leadership traits in a peculiar way. Loose lessons on leadership can be found throughout each episode if you know where to find them. Here are a few of my favorite leadership lessons from Avenue 5.

1. How You Communicate Matters

How you communicate news, good or bad, is key to acceptance most especially in the time of crisis such as the crew and passengers of Avenue 5 found when their 8 week space cruise suddenly becomes a potential eight year space adventure.

To deliver such bad news, you have to remain objective and share the facts to get buy-in, a task Captain Ryan failed at, but successfully delivered by Karen Kelly, one of the many affected passengers. Key in communicating bad news as a leader is to avoid embellishing the truth. Avoid the crude tactics of cruise ship owner Herman Judd to make this go away. 

Another important key is to listen. Don’t deliver the bad news and try to run away like Captain Ryan, but let the message sink in and allow the recipients to digest the news. There is bound to be emotional outbursts and as a leader this is the time to listen and not be a coward.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” – Jim Rohn

2. Title Doesn’t Equate Leadership

Another lesson learned is that a leader needs to take responsibility and not play the blame game, something Herman Judd was good at. Being the billionaire business owner of this space cruise ship didn’t necessarily make him a good leader. 

An out of touch leader will have a hard time admitting fault, but would look for ways to pass the blame as we saw Herman attempt many times, when at this point he really needed to own the issue at hand and apologize. When a leader apologizes, it is not a sign of weakness, instead it is a sign of we messed up and we’re going to fix this.

A good leader takes responsibility and will earn respect from those they are leading as a sign of confidence in their leadership. Karen Kelly the passenger, shows more leadership than the entire crew put together and no wonder the passengers listen to and follow her lead. She’s able to get their vote of confidence despite the not so good news message she was delivering.

3. The World Doesn’t Revolve Around You

Selfishness does not pay. A selfish leader is rarely liked; instead they display their insecurities by their actions and Herman Judd proved to be no different when all he thinks is how he would appear to passengers in the midst of the crisis and an escape plan that did not include anyone but himself.

As a leader, when you begin to exhibit traits of “I like you because you make me look good” or you use people and after they’re no longer useful, you toss them aside, there’s a high probability that your leadership skills need a tune up. It’s easy to spot a selfish leader, they are typically surrounded by ‘yes men’ and can never seem to have ‘good people’ working for them because they are so absorbed in the universe of me, myself and I.

“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” – Brian Tracy

4. Empower Your Inner Circle

Leaders in crisis don’t throw a fit like Herman Judd; instead a leader has a plan of action, but this starts with empowering the inner circle way before crisis strikes. A lot of time can be wasted when the inner circle (senior management) feel despondent. It’s a leader’s responsibility to ensure his team doesn’t fall apart and crumble under pressure, but we see scenes where Herman Judd can’t hold himself together much less the team and it takes Iris Kimura, his formidable right hand woman (personal assistant) to keep him in line. 

Having an empowered inner circle keeps a leader in line even when they veer off course. A motivated team will do what it takes for success and come up with a plan on how to turn negative situations around, which in turn naturally makes the leader look good.

Even when there is no current solution at hand like the crew and passengers of the space cruise ship were experiencing, it is still important for the leadership team to stay motivated enough to want to work together to come up with a solution that benefits all and that can only happen when this behavior is modeled from the top down.

After all, it is said that in the face of adversity character is built and truly this can be said of leaders as seen even in the quirkiest of characters on Avenue 5.

Lola Salvador Akinwunmi is a writer, global consultant, leadership & reinvention strategist with a passion for helping professional women navigate the ever-changing leadership landscape. She brings more than two decades of corporate experience to her clients on their journey to uncover the next stage in their lives. As the founder of LolaSal, Inc., Lola elevates professional powerhouse women to their next level. Her award-winning clients have gone on to speak on stages; get awards in their careers and media features.

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20 Ways You Can Become a Powerful Communicator



Emile Steenveld Speaker and Coach

Some people seem to naturally know how to effectively communicate in a group setting. They can express themselves clearly and listen attentively without dominating the conversation.

Being a powerful communicator is important for several reasons, including building and maintaining relationships, achieving goals, resolving conflicts, improving productivity, leading and influencing others, advancing in your career, expressing yourself more confidently and authentically, and improving your mental and emotional well-being. Effective communication is an essential life skill that can benefit you in all aspects of your life.

But, don’t worry if you don’t naturally possess this skill, as effective communication is something that can be developed with practice, planning and preparation.

1.  Listen actively: Practice active listening by giving your full attention to the speaker and responding to what they are saying.


2. Use “I” statements: Speak from your own perspective and avoid placing blame or making accusations.


3. Avoid assumptions: Don’t make assumptions about what the other person is thinking or feeling.


4. Be clear: Express your thoughts and feelings clearly and concisely by getting to the point and avoid using jargon or overly complex language.


5. Show empathy: Show that you understand and care about the other person’s feelings.


6. Offer valuable insights: When speaking in a group, provide a valuable takeaway or actionable item that people can walk away with.


7. Be an active listener: Listen attentively and respond accordingly, incorporating your points into the conversation.


8. Choose the right time: Pick the most opportune time to speak to ensure that you have the group’s attention and can deliver your message without interruption.


9. Be the unifying voice: Step in and unify the group’s thoughts to calm down the discussion and insert your point effectively.


10. Keep responses concise: Keep responses short and to the point to show respect for others’ time.


11. Avoid unnecessary comments: Avoid commenting on everything and only speak when you have something important to say.


12. Cut the fluff: Avoid being long-winded and get straight to the point.


13. Prepare ahead of time: Sort out your points and practice them before speaking in a group.


14. Smile and be positive: Smile and nod along as others speak, to build a positive relationship and be respected when it’s your turn to speak.


15. Take responsibility: Take responsibility for your own actions and feelings.


16. Ask questions: Ask questions to clarify any confusion or misunderstandings.


17. Avoid interrupting: Allow the other person to finish speaking without interruption.


18. Practice active listening: Repeat what the other person said to ensure you have understood correctly.


19. Use your body language too: Use nonverbal cues such as eye contact, facial expressions, and body language to convey your message and build rapport.


20. Be aware of the tone of your voice: it should be calm and assertive, not aggressive or passive.


By keeping these tips in mind, you can improve your communication skills and become a more powerful communicator, which can help you build better relationships, achieve your goals, and lead a more fulfilling life.

I you want to learn how to become more confident in life then you can join my weekly mentorship calls and 40+ online workshops at so you can master your life with more success.

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