Develop your Team

Leadership

If you could strategically pick people to create the ultimate team would the people on your team now make the cut?  If they would, why would they?  If not, why wouldn’t they?  If they could do the same, would you be on the team?

Teams are the life blood of organizations.  They provide results, growth and function.  We often don’t assess the team as if it’s a one person with many different abilities. We identify a team as a group of individuals with many talents.  Most people on the team will play to their strengths.  It’s natural that we step forward when we are familiar with something that we know.  Our weaknesses on the other hand often go unplayed and undeveloped.  We’ve all heard the phrase, “A team is strong as its weakest link.”  Another way to look at it is one person’s weakness becomes the team’s weakness.  

Sometimes people don’t know what their weaknesses are.  It takes feedback from others to point them out.  How well do you provide feedback as a team?  Have you sat collectively as a team and talked about your weaknesses? If not, why not?  Every team needs to have a 360 degree view of what they’re capable of being. 

The only way to grow as a team is to learn as a team and develop as a team.  Sure, it does take individual parts to move and do so, but above all, if you’re going to be a team then develop as a team.  Growing together strengthens the team.  One of the hardest things to do is take a diverse group of people and work together in one direction.  A successful team crosses the finish line together.  Win or lose. 

As a leader, what are you doing to help develop the team?  Are you providing feedback when necessary?  Are you not only improving weaknesses, but identifying potential?  Leadership is essential to the progression of any team.  Without even saying it most people know the leader on their team.  Are you that leader?  If so, what are you doing to help develop your team?  It would be awesome to be able to strategically pick your ultimate team, but you don’t need to in order to have a great team.  You can create the ultimate team by investing in your current team’s development!

Don’t Wait to feel Motivated

Leadership

I started this blog in August 2016 and forgot I was writing it.  It was in my draft folder pretty much written, I just never scheduled a post.  I don’t pretend to know everything about this topic, but this is my perspective on motivation.  I believe we’re putting too much emphasis on the feeling of motivation that we forgot that it’s beyond a feeling. 

One thing is certain.  No matter if we want to do it or not, the job has to be done.  If you’re waiting to feel motivated to do it are you delaying the mission?  In that, what’s the point of feeling motivation when tasks need to be complete?  Do we need to feel motivated to do our jobs? If you don’t have the desire(the feeling of wanting to do something) to do something that needs to be done that’s not called being unmotivated.  It’s called procrastinating. 

Most people perceive motivation as a feeling.  A desire to do something.  There are days you may wake up and “don’t feel like it,” but you get up and do things because they need to be done.  If you’re waiting to feel ready, that feeling may never come. 

I believe in excellence.  It’s an important value to live by.  I believe my focus on doing things with the upmost quality is my motivation.  Do I need it to provide a high quality result?  Yes, I do!  Why? Because excellence is a part of my personal values and the thought of feeling motivated just won’t cut it.  Motivation is also a reason someone acts.  Reasons are tangible.  They’re not feelings.  I like to think of it as purpose.  It is a purpose!  When I have purpose, I have a goal.  I have a target.  Do I feel like waking up every day at 0500?  No, but I have a sense of ‘why’ I need to get out of bed and it gets me out of bed every morning.  Feelings have nothing to do with it.  If people took action based off the feeling of motivation, they may be in bed all day.  Our culture is groomed to think motivation is specifically a feeling.  It’s not necessarily correct. 

There will always be purpose, though.  There will always be a reason for the things we do.  A mission.  A task.  A goal.  This is the bigger picture.  Feelings may never come, but purpose always exists.  Purpose is the light in darkness that provides a direction to the finish line.  If you don’t know the purpose, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  It means you have to find it. 

For those of you who will remain waiting for that feeling I challenge you to take action anyway because the work still needs to be done regardless of our desire(feeling).  Sometimes the mission doesn’t allow a delay.  The mission still requires you to do your job regardless if you want to or not.  The next time your team needs you, be there for them.  Provide your experience and knowledge not because you ‘feel’ like it or not, but because it’s the right thing to do.  Forget about feeling motivated.  Be motivated because of the role(the purpose) you play on your team.  You are important and people need you. 

5 Ways to Help You Lead in a New Environment

Ideas, Innovation, Leadership, Organization, Social, Tips, Tricks

It would be naive to think that one leadership or management strategy is going to work exactly the same from environment to environment.  It’s just not that easy.  Every organization, work center, company, and or course, the military will have different ways of operating.  After all, they all have different missions.

I am now working in my fifth work center in the last six years. I didn’t have a full spectrum of the mission or what I’d be doing.  I did have to put my learning cap on and embrace the change. A question that has come to mind lately is how do I lead in an environment that I am unfamiliar with?  After brainstorming with my mentor and close friend I have narrowed down some ways. Here are 5 ways to get your foot in the door into leading in a new environment.

Learn the mission!  You have to know what the overall mission is and you have to know your role in the mission.  Know your limits of responsibility and know your strengths and weaknesses given the new mission.  Everyone has a specific amount of responsibility over their area. Know where your role begins and ends. Ask yourself what you bring to the table? What are you good at and what do you need work at? You will need to self assess your strengths/weaknesses in this new environment. Play your strengths when you are able and learn when you are unfamiliar with the process or directions. Ask questions when you don’t know an answer or a process. It’s okay to ask other agencies how they fit in the mission. You need to see the big picture and not just the area around you. Knowing the mission and knowing your role will ultimately help move the mission forward.

Introductions! Aside from knowing the mission, you have to know the team you’re a part of. In order to work on a team you’ve got to know the team and the team has to know you. First impressions are very important, but we can never truly know someone by a simple greeting.  After personal introductions have been made, lay the foundation of your work ethic. Begin to show your work ethic. This is where people will truly get a sense of who you are. Lead with values, not authority.  Values provide a standard of positive behavior. Use them and add other values that instill a strong work ethic. Get to know how your team members operate. Seek what drives their performance.  Ask them questions about their passions, their family, their background.  Leading is ultimately about taking care of people.  One must know their teammates on a professional and personal level in order to be effective at taking care of them. After all, leadership is about taking care of people. Know your team!

Be proactive, not reactive!  Don’t wait for someone to tell you to do something.  Take initiative in your area.  Seek out and find what needs to be done or what could be done.  There is always someone who needs help.  Go ask them if you can help or if there is anything you can do to help.  If you know what needs to be done, do it.  If you don’t, then ask someone what you can do to contribute. This is why knowing the mission is important.  It will give you an idea on what needs to be done.  When you’re proactive you stay ahead of the game.  Doing so can often help save you and others time in the future. Being proactive means you’re prepared.  No one likes the feeling of being unprepared. Take initiative every chance you get!  It may lead to some great opportunities! Nothing is more satisfying to a supervisor than seeing a subordinate take charge.  This not only tells them you have a great work ethic, but that you are capable of leading. Be proactive!

Communicating clearly.  Communication is a very hard skill to master.  For someone to put thoughts or an idea into words, or better yet, action, it can be quite difficult if you don’t understand how each member of your team listens or learns.  To clearly get your objectives across to your team can be very delicate.   Make sure you take time to get the correct words down before you speak your objectives/tasks/ideas, etc. The precision of your communication can make or break the success of your team.  And always make sure that your team members know to ask questions if they don’t clearly understand the objective.  That is also another part of communication.  It’s a two way street.  Ensure you communicate clearly and ensure your team knows how to seek answers from you by asking. Listening and hearing are two different things.  Listening is an audible action, hearing what’s said is the process of information into a structured concept.  Communicate clearly so that your point is heard.

Be willing to learn!  A leader’s job isn’t to know all of the answers.  Leaders must show they are willing to learn from their team members.  Listening and learning from the members on the team builds trust.  When teams learn from each other it strengthens their ability to adapt to overcome challenges. It creates a teamwork environment.  When leaders and members of the team are open to learning from each other it also creates a culture of learning.  Learning is how we grow.  Show them that if you can, they can.  Learn together!

3 Leadership Lessons from Captain America: Civil War

Ant-Man, Leadership, MARVEL, Spider-Man

Well it has been a few months since Captain America: Civil War has been out and it has been a while since I’ve blogged about leadership.  I bought Captain America: Civil War on digital DVD today and watched it.  This one was very hard to extract something that could teach us something.  I hope you understand these points below.  I’m sure if I were to watch it again I could find something else, but for now these will do.  Here are a few leadership lessons from Captain American: Civil War.

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Steve Rogers: We are if we’re not taking responsibility for our actions. This document just shifts the blame.

In this statement Steve is talking to Tony about signing the Accords.  He says that if they sign it, they will be giving up their right to fight the battles they choose.  It is also talking about taking responsibility of previous battles.  Steve believes that they should have the freedom to choose.  He mentions taking responsibility for their actions.  This is talking about holding everyone accountable to what they do.  Leaders can’t dismiss moments when they do something wrong or incorrect.  They must openly admit when they are wrong.  Sometimes there may be consequences, but the point is that in this situation, leaders will never choose between taking responsibility and ignoring it.  They will always do the right thing.  Leaders hold each other accountable.  In a way, this whole movie is focused on that exact thing.  Holding each other accountable.  Living a higher standard.

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Vision: If you do this, they will never stop being afraid of you.

Fear isn’t the best ingredient for progress.  When we fear we don’t trust.  Trust is essential for every team and every member of the team.  At this point in the movie, Wanda is being held on the Avengers compound and Vision is trying to keep her there in a safe manner.  She is rescued by Hawkeye and Wanda forces Vision to let her go.  He tells her if she leaves the people will never stop being afraid of her.  Fear doesn’t have purpose in teams.  Trust is what holds teams together.  Simon Sinek once said, “A team is not a group of people because they work together.  A team is a group of people because they trust each other.”  Leaders will never create fear, but drive out fear by building trust. 

War Machine: Jesus, Tony, how old is this guy?

War Machine was asking Iron Man how old Spider-Man is.  Often we underestimate the influence the younger generation has.  In all reality, leadership has no rank.  It has no title.  It has no age limit.  A leader can be anyone.  Even kids or in this case a teenager.  Spider-man did the things he did because he wanted to ‘help the little guy.’  He saved people and made a difference in his community because he had the ability to.  Everyone has the ability to help someone else.  The very notion to help someone else with nothing in return contests to our ability to lead.  It all starts with the action to help others.  Leaders can come in all ages.

captain-america-civil-war-spider-man-shield-official-0-0

12 Things to Remember as a Leader

Leadership

Let’s face it, everyone will need to be led differently.  There isn’t a one size fits all approach to leadership.  At least, that’s what I believe.  I do believe that effective leaders will find ways that help them be more effective for the benefit of the team and their followers.  Will it always work?  It depends how much care, effort and work you put into it.  Some followers may be susceptible to the approach of their leader, some may not.  It’s okay, that’s why it’s important for leaders to improve a variety of skills and abilities.

Whatever you can do to make people, your team, do better, know better and be better then that is your job.  To inspire, to motivate, to coach, to mentor, whatever it takes.  It’s not just about evaluating their performance to progress the team, it’s also about seeking out their potential.  You’ve got to challenge them and grow them.  Don’t leave them where they are, take them to the next level of where they need to be.  Leadership is also a two way street.  There will be times when you step back and listen.  Receive the feedback. Listen to what your team needs to progress and how they feel.  Yes, emotions matter.  People have emotions and it’s important you understand them and not just know them. Understanding something and knowing something is two different things.  The better you understand their emotions the better you can lead them.

Use your team’s abilities and learn from them.  Learning is important for a leader.  A leader isn’t a leader because they know every answer.  It’s okay to not have the answer.  When your team sees that you’re honest about it, they’ll trust you.  They’ll see you as approachable.  Leaders must be approachable.  When you’re approachable, your team will come to you when they need help.  This in a way removes fear.  This is good.  This will assist you in accomplishing the goals of the team.  Every team needs a destination.  If there is no destination then there is no need to progress and the work you do would seem meaningless. Leadership implies we’re going somewhere.  It’s important that leaders know where to take the team.  

Lastly, leadership isn’t always focused on what seems to be the good stuff.  Leaders have to make the tough decisions. You have to hold people accountable.  People will make mistakes and that’s okay, it happens, but don’t let mistakes become the normal.  If you don’t hold people accountable, the work culture can be jeopardized and can work backwards from where you’re going.  Don’t forget, leadership is about people not processes.  Processes need to be managed.  People need to be lead.  Ret Admiral Grace Hopper once said, “You manage things, you lead people.”

Remember these things and that it won’t be easy.  Those who care to put the effort in to help people be better, know better and do better are often the leaders we need. Fill the need…

2 Leadership Lessons from Batman vs Superman: The Dawn of Justice

Batman, Leadership, Superman

I was able to watch Batman vs Superman while I was serving overseas a few months ago.  There was a lot of backlash about the movie which is perfectly fine.  Some people just hold movies, remakes, with high expectations from previous versions.  The thing you had to understand with this movie is that it was never going to be like the older Batman movies.  Different personification of Batman and a different look at Superman.  I enjoyed the movie.  I love a good superhero movie regardless of who it is, or how bad it may be.  

Of course I haven’t seen the movie since, but I was able to remember a few things from the movie that contributed to being a leader.  This is only two points, but perhaps when I re-watch the movie later on I’ll pull some more lessons.  For now, I give you two leadership lessons from Superman vs Batman: The Dawn of Justice.

senator-finch-in-batman-v-superman

US Senator: [on Superman] The world has been so caught up with what he can do that no one has asked what he should do.

Leaders that have influence will never be questioned on what they should do because they’ll be already doing it and they already know what they should be doing.  They use that influence for what’s best for their team and the mission.  When leaders have the influence to make people better, they take it, it’s never a question of should they. The morals and values that leaders portray will always be with best intentions of helping those around.  If we have to question if a leader is going to the right thing then perhaps they’re not a leader after all. Leaders never question if they should do what’s right, they already do what’s right. Leaders have integrity.

Martha Kent: Be their hero, Clark. Be their angel, be their monument, be anything they need you to be.

Martha+Kent

Every leader must know their strengths and their weaknesses.  I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about how to be an effective follower.  I mentioned that to be an effective follower you have to play your strengths. Here, Martha Kent is telling Clark to play his strengths.  Superman obviously wanted to do right by the people, but the people got caught up n if he was doing things for the greater good that he started to question the opportunities he took to help.  Martha told him to be and do what he’s capable of doing, being not only a hero, or an angel, but whatever they needed him to be.  Leaders play whatever role their team needs them to play if means bettering the team or helping the team.  Leaders are versatile. 

4 Leadership Lessons from Guardians of the Galaxy

Leadership, MARVEL

I hope you’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy.  If you haven’t, you should go watch it now!  It is a great Marvel movie!  I’ve even heard a few people call it the best Marvel movie, yet!  I watched it again just a few days ago and found a few more lessons that I didn’t catch the first few times.  I’ve realized that it’s a great movie about team building, over coming challenges and learning to lead.  Here are 4 Leadership Lessons from Guardians of the Galaxy

When Peter Quill, Gamora, Rocket and Groot are arrested and sent to prison, Rocket begins to devise a plan to escape.  He begins telling Peter and Gamora what he needs to make it happen.

Rocket Raccoon: Now, this is important. Once the battery is removed, everything is gonna slam into emergency mode. Once we have it, we gotta move quickly, so you definitely need to get that last.
[Groot removes the battery, setting off the alarms]
Rocket Raccoon: Or we could just get it first and improvise.
Gamora: I’ll get the armband.
Peter Quill: Leg.

The phrase I’m working on is improvise!  After Groot without question or being asked grabs the battery box from high above, as mentioned, everything slammed into emergency mode.  This wasn’t planned, this was not a part of the plan.  With this happening, the timing that Rocket was planning has now been thrown out the window.  The moment at hand requires fast thinking and improvisation.   This is an example of how leaders must be quick to adapt to the environment and circumstances.  Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and sudden changes can always redirect the plan.  Just like a football team that calls an audible, the opposite team must adjust on the fly to the sudden change.  But leaders also keep team members focused on the task.  Rocket, Gamora and Peter still had their mission to carry out, it just happened a little bit quicker than expected.  Leaders improvise when necessary and adapt to their environment.  

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Rocket Raccoon: But Quill, beating Ronan… it can’t be done. You’re asking us to die.
Peter Quill: Yeah… I guess I am.
[pause]
Gamora: [stands up] Quill, I have lived most of my life surrounded my enemies. I will be grateful to die among my friends.
Drax the Destroyer: [stands up] You’re an honorable man, Quill. I will fight beside you. And in the end, I will see my wife and daughter.
Groot: [stands up] I am Groot.
Rocket Raccoon: Aww, what the hell, I don’t got that long a lifespan anyway…[stands up]

At this moment in the movie, things are about to get interesting as Ronan is on his way to destroy an entire planet.  Peter has made the choice to go after him.  He knows he can’t do it alone and after a few small battles here and there, Groot, Rocket, Gamora and Drax have formed into an unlikely team.  Together they bring many skills to the table.  Together, their potential is boundless.  Peter makes a quick speech about how he’s going to take on Ronan and ultimately inspires the others to join in.  Although, 12% isn’t much of plan, they still agree to join in.  Inspiration can really drive a team.  At times, it just takes a common connection between them before a team can really come together.  This happens in this scene. As leader, Peter brings the team together and without each other, they would have never been able to defeat Ronan, which happens later on in the movie.  Leaders inspire and bring teams together.   

We all know that leadership has no rank, position or authority.  A leader can be anyone and everyone has the potential to lead. 

Denarian Saal: I can’t believe I’m taking orders from a hamster.

Denarian made this comment when Rocket gave him an instruction near the end of the movie in the big battle.  Being sarcastic, he says he can’t believe he’s taking orders from a hamster.  Though Rocket is small and a little chaotic, he is no different than any other person.  He is capable of leadership.  Leaders come in all ages, sizes and from any culture!

rocket-guardians-of-the-galaxy-movie

Peter Quill: If we’re gonna work together you might wanna try trusting me a little bit.
Gamora: How much do you trust me?

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It takes a lot to create a strong team and trusting in each is a key element.  In this scene, the crew is on it’s way to a buyer for the orb.  Peter asks Gamora where the coordinates are and she replies with “We’re going in the right direction.”  Peter responds with the trust line and she responds back with one.  In any organization and team, trust has to take place.  Just like the earlier football analogy, it can be used again in this scenario.  A quarterback must trust his offensive line to block the best they can so that he can worry about getting the ball to the right player.  Leaders not only trust, but they build trust within their team.  They share information, they provide help, they show care to others in their team.  As the movie plays on, Peter, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot form a great deal of trust.  Leaders trust and build trust. 

4 Leadership Lessons working Command Support Staff

Leadership, Organization

I’ve been in the Air Force for about 5 years. I’ve worked as Command Support Staff for majority of that time. If you’re unfamiliar with that position, I basically worked in the Commander’s(CC) office keeping up with all of the Commander’s programs.

There is a huge stigma at play when you work in the Commander’s office. People think you’re there to make coffee and answer phones. Did I make coffee? Sure, when I wanted to drink it. Did the Commander ever make me make it? Never. Did he drink it when I made it, sure. Did I drink it when he made it, you bet I did.

When the phone rang did I answer it? Well, yes! Communication has to remain continuous. Even when the CC was in his office, I was the person taking the call unless it was to his personal line, which didn’t ring very often and when it did, it was higher leadership reaching out to him for a very good reason. Most of the time, they’d still call the main line because even higher leadership understand the protocol on calling the Squadron Commander. You went through me!

The Administration career field isn’t new, perhaps it has a new name, it has the same mission; provide support for the Commander. Even though we may working in an office away from our peers, I believe we’re getting first hand experience from the leaders of our organization on how to lead a massive group of people!! I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything else.  I get to interact with leadership on levels that very few get to do at my current rank, and the rank I used to be.  There is no better place to develop your leadership skills than with the leaders of your own organization. The short time I’ve been in, I’ve worked for three different CCs.  In this, I’ve learned many things. My Commander wasn’t just my Commander, or my immediate supervision, but he was also a mentor. He taught me what it meant to lead, how to lead and why we lead.

I know that sounds like special treatment, but as you’re running the Commander’s programs, you’ve got to work closely as a team. Believe it or not, sometimes the CC just needed someone to talk to and listening was about the only thing I could do. It helped him and I learned a lot!!

I learned that leaders trust people to get the job done.  I wasn’t micromanaged.  My CC allowed me to do my job without interruption.  He also trusted that if I had questions that I would seek out the right answer.  Being able to work freely without ‘eyes on me’ helped me fluidly get things accomplished without the feeling of pressure.  I had timelines and he gave me a chance to meet them, even when it was minutes before they were due.  He did this because even if I did get them in late, he would rather us have a qualify product than a rushed, poor quality product.  And he knew that adding pressure wouldn’t help.  Leaders trust their team to get the job done, but also to get the job done with great results. 

I remember being a Senior Airman, after working Command Staff for a while, I had been pulled up to work for the Command Chief Exec position while the current exec was about to take vacation.  I began to work on a few schedule conflicts and needed to call a squadron.  Of course I called the Group to work it, but I ended up having to work straight with the office.  When it came time for Command Chief to visit the unit, the office called me to see if he was on his way just so they could be ready to greet him.  I told the Tech Sergeant on the phone that Chief went to lunch at 1130 and said he’d go straight from there so I assume he’s on his way.  The Tech Sergeant on the phone said to me, “I need to know, I don’t need you to assume.”  So I responded with, “Yes, Sir, I understand that, but Chief gave me his plan for the next few hours, he’ll be there as his schedule indicates.”  After all, though, if he’s late, neither of us can help that.  I called the Chief right after to make sure he was on his way anyway to put the Tech Sergeant at ease and Chief did say he was on his way.  I did learn, though that the Tech Sergeant was right, I should never have assumed.  In this case, it’s less severe because I knew Chief knew he had a schedule to follow and in his position, he knew it was important to keep to it.  I did learn that leaders should collect data, information, or calculations to arrive at a definite answer.  Assuming can sometimes be the wrong answer and could cause other issues.  It’s important to know the answer and if you don’t know an answer, seek it!  Leaders don’t assume, they seek the right answer. 

There were times when the Commander’s direct line would ring like I mentioned before.  Usually when this happened, it was really important.  I found it odd when the Wing Commander would call the main line to speak with the Commander when he knew his number.  Why would he use a middle man?  He’s THE boss of the base! He can go straight to anyone! Then I realized, breaking the normal process just because you have that authority doesn’t mean you have to use it, or abuse it.  And so, leaders don’t use authority to make things happen.  They make things happen because they lead by example, they inspire, they motivate others to do what’s right, not what’s easiest.

Last lesson for this story…I was an Airman First Class at the time. I was talking with the Commander one day about the squadron and I asked a question about the back shop.  The back shop is the office that handled the patches and updates.  The Commander said, “I don’t know” and he laughed.  I said, “Are you joking with me.”  He laughed and said, “My job as Commander isn’t to know how every single program is ran. My job is to get us from Point A to Point B as effectively and timely as possible.”  In that moment, my whole thought process changed on what a leader is.  I thought he knew everything, that’s why he was Commander, right?  It was certainly not what I thought.  My understanding was incorrect.  He was correct, though!  Whatever happens in between Point A and Point B, it’s the leaders responsibility to assist with resources, knowledge, to guide, mentor, assist, inspire and motivate teams to meet their goals or objectives.  

In my office the morning I found out I made SSgt

In my office the morning I found out I made SSgt

2 Points Leaders Should Execute

Leadership

Leaders lead teams. Every team is different and every team has a different mission. Leaders are developed to be able to lead teams in many circumstances. That’s what makes them leaders. They’re able to take any team and get them where they need to be.  Of course, there are many other qualities a leader must possess, but to hit the ground running here are two key points that every leader should execute.

Direction-Every leader needs to know where they are taking their team. Leaders must know how to get their team from point A to point B. Most importantly, they also need to know why they’re going in that direction in the first place. Leadership is not about where you’ve been it’s about where you’re going. Leaders know where to take their team.

Communication-Team members can translate things different if the leader does not articulate the goal or mission. Leaders communicate in depth to their team members on what’s going on and why. This helps members contribute if they have all the variables, or at least as many as possible. Leaders must listen and speak with, not at their team members. They must know when their team members need the extra push and when to allow their potential to shine. Leaders communicate effectively and often.

MARVEL–Movies–A Lesson in Leadership

Leadership, Organization, Tips, Tricks

Today’s Movies: A Lesson in Leadership I will be quoting MARVEL movies!!  I’ll be highlighting a few lessons from 4 MARVEL Movies:  The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor and Iron Man 3.

Who doesn’t love a good superhero?  What better analogy to mirror than that of a superhero when talking about leadership?  Our leaders can sometimes be looked upon as heroes.  They save the day, they inspire people, lead by example and sacrifice their time and energy to go above and beyond for the sake of others.  Who is your favorite superhero?

We can find leadership examples in the most peculiar situations.  We just have to seek out the lesson.  Let’s look into a few…

The Avengers

 Stark we need a plan of attack 

Steve Rogers: Stark, we need a plan of attack!
Tony Stark: I have a plan: attack!

In this moment of not thinking before acting, Tony Stark pursues Thor after he has taken Loki from their custody.  Captain American comments, “We need a plan of attack.” Stark replies, “I have a plan: attack!” How does this apply to leadership?  Well, there are many times when you have to take the risk and jump into the water.  Many leaders have a very fast thinking process.  They’re able to assess situations as they’re unfolding and act quickly.  This is a very difficult skill to master, but it’s not impossible.  Here, Iron Man teaches us that leaders are not afraid to take risks.  Before you go jumping into waters blindly, there is a difference in a calculated risk and a careless risk.  Depending on the skills, resources and knowledge of the leader, risk can be taken knowing that no matter what arises, the individual or team can handle the risk.  Iron Man definitely had the skills to take this risk.  Be logical about risk and the risks you are able to take.  Leaders take risks!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Alexander Pierce: I can bring order to the lives of seven billion people, by sacrificing twenty million. It’s the next step, Nick. If you have the courage to take it.
Nick Fury: No. I have the courage not to.

Of course at this point in the movie, hell is breaking loose and Fury has finally shown up after an attempted assassination on his life.  Pierce is trying to launch the ships so they can start killing people to gain control.  In this quote, Pierce wants to convince Fury that killing off twenty million will bring order to everyone else by brining courage into the decision.  He says, “If you have courage to take it.”  Fury’s reply of course is, “No. I have the courage not to.”  The lesson here is the word “no.” One of the most overlooked qualities you can possess is not the ability, but the will to say, “No.”  Leading is not always about saying yes to gain the loyalty and trust of those around you.  You must know when to say no and know why you should say no.  If you want honest followers, you must be an honest leader.  There are ways to make no look positive.  Educating the reason why no is the answer and not yes is a great way to not only teach, but grow more leaders.  Leaders say, “no.”

Thor

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Thor: You know, I had it all backwards. I had it all wrong.
Erik Selvig: It’s not a bad thing finding out that you don’t have all the answers. You start asking the right questions.
Thor: For the first time in my life, I have no idea what I’m supposed to do.
Erik Selvig: Anyone who’s ever going to find his way in this world, has to start by admitting he doesn’t know…

Such a great quote!  Getting to the point!  No one can truly have all the right answers.  It takes a great deal of courage and humility to admit that you don’t know the answer to something.  This is a very humbling trait to have as a leader.  A leader knows the mission, is inspiring, knows the route, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to know ever crack and bump along the road.  It’s okay to not know the answer, but knowing the right questions is a great start to finding a solution.  Leaders admit when they don’t have answers.

Iron Man 3

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Harley Keener: Anyways, I would have added in, um, the retro…
Tony Stark: Retro-reflective panels?
Harley Keener: To make him stealth mode.
Tony Stark: You want a stealth mode.
Harley Keener: Cool, right?
Tony Stark: That’s actually a good idea. Maybe I’ll build one.

Tony Stark just took an idea from a kid!  He listened!  The conclusion in this is actually the last comment.  Tony acknowledged his idea was a good one.  This is the appropriate response after listening to your team/followers.  Provide honest feedback.  When you provide feedback to your team, you let them know that you are actively listening to what they were saying or what they were doing.  This helps them grow in areas that they may be lacking in.  Also, give them the proper compliment when doing something great!  This can lead to the member stepping up their game.  Tell them when they’re doing a great job, when you like their ideas, but also let them know when they need to work on key elements of their performance.  Leaders provide honest, appropriate feedback.

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For more movie leadership lessons, read my first post below.

Movies–A Lesson in Leadership