The Risk of Leading

Leadership

Failing the mission.  Team disfunction.  Loss of resources, time, money, and people.  These are all outcomes when leading.  It’s scary to step into the role of a leader.  Once you have decided to care for others the people and the mission become your responsibility.  It’s terrifying knowing that the decisions you make could hinder the mission or the people around you.  And if everything does go south, all fingers could point to you.

There is risk in leading, but that’s what makes a leader a leader.  They understand things may not always work out and that the outcome is never guaranteed.  Leaders take on the risk in order to achieve success, but they make decisions using their knowledge and experienced combined with the team’s knowledge and experience to make wise decisions.  Leveraging the power of the team is necessary to reduce the risk.  Leaders do this constantly and consistently. 

Bottom line, it’s going to be scary.  It’s going to be challenging and it’s going to be tough.  There is no avoiding it.   The greatest part about risk is that when it works right everybody wins!  Innovation requires risk and without leaders pushing the boundaries of the line between failure and success innovation will not occur.  

There is purpose to why we spend so much time developing our leadership abilities.  The more prepared we are the higher chance we have at succeeding.  The approach to risk always has the same liabilities, but the action to challenge it gets easier every time you take risk.  It’ll never feel perfect or guaranteed, but the fear, the uncertainty goes away because you know it has to happen.  People need to grow and the mission needs to be accomplished.  We can’t halt everything just because we have to face a decision with risk.

Keep in mind risk will come in many forms, but don’t approach it alone.  Use your team, the mission and the values that guide the culture to overcome it.  

5 Leadership Lessons from Suicide Squad

Leadership

Everyone had the potential to be better, do better and know better.  A chance to put ourselves last and a chance to prove that we are better than we may seem.  The Suicide Squad was given the opportunity to do some good.  Though, this is a movie about some bad guys, we can still learn to be a good leader from the examples.  Here are a few things we can learn from the Suicide Squad regarding leadership. 

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Amanda Waller: I want to build a team of some very dangerous people, who I think can do some good.

Leaders see potential.  They see a bit of the future in how people can make a difference.  Here,  Waller pitchers her idea that she wants to build a team of some very dangerous people, who she thinks can do some good.  She did her homework.  She looked into everyone’s background to get all the information she needed to pick the team.  She looked at everyone’s strengths and weaknesses to form the team.  Which brings us to the next lesson.

Amanda Waller: Because getting people to act against their own self-interest for the national security of the United States is what I do for a living.

Leaders know their team.  A great leader knows their team members on a personal level.  Meaning they know more than their strengths and weaknesses.  They know their story.  They know their families, they know their goals, etc.  They do this so they will know their triggers in how to inspire them, how to motivate them and what they need to get the task complete.  

Amanda Waller:  Before she ran off and joined the circus, she was known as Dr. Harleen Quinzel. A psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum. She was assigned to the clown himself. She thought she was curing him, but she was falling in love. Talk about a workplace romance gone wrong.

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Knowing how to motivate can be quite difficult if you don’t know your team members.  Deadshot brought it up a few times to Flagg about motivating the squad.  Flagg didn’t care about the team. He just saw them as tools.  If you’re going to lead any time regardless of the mission you must learn to inspire and motivate.   Leaders know how to motivate.  

Deadshot: You might wanna work on your team motivation thing.

During the bar scene where everyone is having a drink, Deadshot is talking about how they almost pulled it off and then Diablo responds with how they weren’t picked to succeed, but they were chosen to fail.  

Deadshot: Well, we almost pulled it off despite what everybody thought.
Diablo: We weren’t picked to succeed. You know that, right? We were all chosen to fail.

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Diablo goes on to talk his past of killing his wife and children and then Harley comments:

Harley Quinn: Own that shit. Own it!

It’s important for leaders to own their mistakes.  What you do after the mistake matters most.  Near the end of the movie, Waller asked Flagg how the Enchatress got loose and Flagg confessed that it was his fault that she pretty much got away from them. He owned his mistakes and said he would accept the consequences.  Admitting mistakes and then taking ownership is a characteristic of integrity.  

Rick Flag: I’ll accept the consequences.

Integrity isn’t just doing the right thing when no one is watching, it’s also admitting you did something wrong when no one was watching. Leaders have integrity. 

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.

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3 Leadership Lessons from X-Men Apocalypse

Leadership, MARVEL, X-Men

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X-Men Apocalypse seemed like a long time coming and now it is finally here. It took me a few days to think about the movie and extract leadership lessons from it. This movie was about bringing a team together.  It was about empowering each other with the idea that you can make a difference and that each person is important as the next. Raven became a great leader in this movie.  She showed a group of students that coming together to work toward the same goal can yield success. Here are a few lessons I’ve pulled from the movie. Hope you enjoy. 

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Apocalypse: It’s over, Charles. You are beaten.
Charles Xavier: You’ll never win.
Apocalypse: Why not?
Charles Xavier: Because you are alone… and I am not.

Charlies Xavier didn’t work alone. He had a team.  He had a team of people who believed what he believed.  A team works better than an individual when reaching toward a goal, especially when you have a diverse challenge in front of you.  Every person will bring a specific set of skills to the table.  It’s important to embrace diversity in a team.  If you have a team, use it, don’t alienate yourself from them.  Leaders leverage their team’s strengths.  Leaders don’t try to make the winning play.  They encourage teamwork. When the team wins, you win. Leaders understand the importance of a team. 

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Charles Xavier: [senses Apocalypse with Cerebro] I’ve never felt power like this before…

A true leader will never us authority to get things done.  Charles Xavier had power unlike most mutants, but he didn’t go around using it for his benefit. Leaders don’t use power. They use influence, they inspire people. Charles motivated people to be more than they thought they were.  He inspired them to make great decisions.  He cultivated an environment to grow each mutant’s potential. He never forced them with his mind control to decide on the right path.  He taught them the right choices from the bad.  Leaders never use power to make things happen. At the end of the movie Charles is speaking with Erik about staying for a bit.  

Charles Xavier: You sure I can’t convince you to stay?
Erik Lensherr: You’re psychic, Charles. You can convince me to do anything.

The greatest part about this is that Charles didn’t use his power to convince him to do anything. Leaders will never use power to control anyone.

Sometimes we don’t see the potential we have.  Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to help us point it out.  We always know our weaknesses, but our strengths sometimes can be hidden. 

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Charles Xavier: Once you know the extent of your power, then you can learn to control it.

Charles’ whole purpose for having a school for the gifted was to help each person understand their power and to know how to use it.  He brought out each person’s potential and guided each person into managing their power. Leaders do the same for the team members.  Leaders study their teammates.  They get to know them.  They look deeper than the surface.  Leaders invest in people.  When a leader sees potential in someone they assist with providing opportunities for that person to use their skills.  In doing so, they help that person grow. Leaders seek out potential in people and help them develop that potential.

Steve Rogers–Being a team

Leadership, MARVEL

It’s easier to get a job done if you have more than one person contributing to the project.  We all need help from time to time.  With that said, we know that teams are important.  A football team requires every person to know their job and their assigned responsibility.  The quarterback trusts that the linemen are going to protect him so he can focus on getting the ball to the right person.  If a lineman fails, the quarterback can be blindsided and get tackled.  This is crucial because the quarterback must trust his teammates.  He has no choice because he can’t block, run and pass the ball at the same time.  That’s why each position is crucial to the success of the team. If it’s 4th quarter with 5 minutes left and one team is losing by 40 points, the chances are, that team is going to lose.  They don’t stop the game and give up, but they tough it out because it’s how the game works.  You play till the last second is over, but a football team wins together or they lose together.  It is a team effort.

Most teams have a leader, a team captain, or an individual calling the shots.  In Avengers and Avengers Age of Ultron, Captain American by way of his leadership skills is gradually designated as the guy who calls the shots.  He is the team leader. It’s not because he’s super strong, fast and meant to be the first super soldier, but it’s because of his tenacious choice to do what’s right, even if it means failing.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Tony Stark:  We’re the Avengers, we can bust weapons dealers the whole doo-da-day, but how do we cope with something like this?
Steve Rogers: Together
Tony Stark: We’ll lose
Steve Rogers: We do that together too.

Leaders keep teams together even if they know the outcome is not favorable.  They stick through the tough choices. They stick through the struggles, even when others on the team have doubt.  Leaders find ways to keep the attitude of their team reaching toward the goal. Whether it’s winning or just getting something accomplished.  In this debate, Steve and Tony are were talking about how to beat Ultron, as Tony is thinking it’s impossible, Steve Rogers says, we’ll then we’ll lose together, but we’re going to try. 

If you find your teammates starting to drag, starting to become discouraged, remind them that you are a team.  A strong team can accomplish anything.  Focus on the team’s mission not the thought of losing.  Captain America never gave up on the team and the team won.  Be the leader, be the one who holds the team together. Lead like Steve Rogers!

Batman–Embracing Failure

Batman, Leadership

Batman is not only a man, but he’s a symbol.  He stands for something greater than himself.  Batman is one of the best superheroes out there because he’s just a man trying to make things better.  The Nolan Batman series pulls some great lessons in leadership.

One of the most memorable quotes is from Alfred.  

Why do we fall, Sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.

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There are a couple of examples to highlight based off the idea of not giving up. One of them is this quote.  This quote in a nutshell says, it’s okay to fall because we learn from our mistakes or better yet, we fail because failure is a part of finding success.

In The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne has a broken back and it thrown down a deep hole.  He attempts a few times to get out by jumping and grabbing the only ledge leading to the way out.  He failed the first time, he failed the second, but on the third…he gets it!

 

Bruce Wayne failed many times at trying to reach that ledge, but he found success!  He did not give up!  He got out and reignited what he set out to do for Gotham. 

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sound familiar?  

Batman wasn’t sure if it was going to work, but he tried becoming a symbol so that others would carry on what that symbol stood for.  It wasn’t about one person, it was about doing what’s right.  Batman would eventually succeed in this, but most importantly,

Batman did not fear failure. 

Batman tried to nurture Harvey Dent into the hero Gotham needed.  Harvey Dent was the leader Batman wanted Gotham to have. Even in that, it wasn’t about Dent, it was about what he stood for without a mask.  Justice, doing what’s right, making the city a better place.  Bruce Wayne went on to say,

I believe in Harvey Dent. 

What he really meant was, I believe in doing what’s right even if it means I fail!  

We seek success and if we fail, even as a team, we know that we have lessons to learn and another chance to take another shot.  

Leaders embrace failure. 

Batman, Harvey Dent embraced failure! They knew that if they didn’t try to make a change, a change wouldn’t happen.  

Leaders push teams to their limits.  Sometimes those teams fail and the punch can feel impossible to get up from, but leaders inspire, motivate, but most importantly teach those around them that failure is only a step to success.  They empower their teams to take chances, to be bold, to see failure as another step into completing the mission.  

We know that many movements for change have failed.  The Wright Brothers failed many times before finally taking flight.  Steve Jobs failed numerous of times before finally creating a well-built, affordable home computer.  Can you imagine what it would be like if these people gave up after failing the first time? 

The next opportunity you have to accomplish something, don’t let fear of failure scare you away from success.  Your leadership is crucial in moments like this, it make or break a team.  Through the bruises, through the time, through the failure, we make progress. Lead like Batman.