5 Ways You’re Failing as a Leader

Leadership

We all know a bad leader from a good one.  It’s like a superpower.  We just know.  How well a leader leads can sometimes hinder the culture of the organization and or performance of the team. 

How often do we call out what leaders are doing wrong?  How do we know what to look for?  It’s tough to identify every detail leaders do wrong, but there are some more common than others.  

As a leader you have to evaluate how you’re leading.  The more trust the team has the stronger the team is.  If you were to fall, you would want someone there to pick you up, right?  If you reach your hand out, would your team be there to lift you up? A successful team works together and you are a part of that team.  Here are what I feel are five ways you could be failing as a leader.

You devalue your team members.  Every team is diverse to some capacity.  Each person brings a set of skills and experience to the table.  A bad leader overlooks talent and experience and undervalues their team members.  Teams are not things.  They are people.  You can’t see people as objects.  They hold a different value.  They are the life force of any organization.  Never underestimate the power of your team.  Diversity is a great team asset.  Teams work best when they are used to the best of their abilities.  A great leader values  the abilities of their team members.

It’s your way and only your way.  This aligns with the value of the team.  Plain and simple, not every decision has to be made from you nor does every idea have to generate from you.  Part of a leader’s job is to grow others into leading.  You can’t do that when you’re the only person making decisions or providing ideas.  You have to allow others to contribute as well.  If you don’t use your team you will end up losing your team. A great leader provides the opportunity for others to contribute. 

You don’t listen. Communication is a two way street.  Your team members may have great ideas and solutions.  Sometimes the best solutions come from those around you, but you’ve got to listen.  Listening is crucial to interacting with your team.  Someone may be having a bad day and it’s your responsibility as a leader to help them bounce back.  Listening isn’t just an audible action, it’s also a visionary action.  Body language, moods and performance can be seen and interpreted.  You’ve got to listen to what others are saying even when they’re not actually saying it.  Leaders listen. 

You’re looking out for yourself above others.  Nothing disconnects a leader more as to when they’re only looking out for their self.  Being a leader is putting others first.  Leaders give team members the glory and the recognition.  Your team won’t succeed if you only look after yourself.  Leaders look out and help their team rise to success.

You don’t lead by example. One the most powerful ways to lead is to lead by example.  If you enforce a standard for the team, but you’re not following it, then it just shows that you are above the standard and them.  Just like a child mimicking their parent, a team will mimic their leader.  What you do, they will do.  What you tolerate becomes the normal.  If you have bad habits, they will adopt them because that’s the culture you have allowed to take over.  Before you expect others to act the set standards be sure that you are doing so as well.  Leaders lead by example.

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. 

X-MenApocalypse_Xavier

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.

My First Deployment: A Joint Environment – 4 Leadership Lessons

Leadership

I was on vacation in Texas with my wife and daughter.  We were vising family, enjoying being away from our normal routine in Colorado.  My Superintendent calls and says, well, I have some bad news.  You’ve been hit with a deployment.

Nothing really bad about it, just wasn’t expecting to get tagged as I just got to the unit 6 months prior.  It happens, I’ve been tagged with less time on station before, but it got canceled. What do you do when you’re tasked to deploy? You begin to prepare and roll with the punches. 

Four months later I got on a plane and flew out of the US for the first time in my life.  Was I nervous?  Yes!  I wasn’t being tasked with a group of people.  I was alone and I didn’t know what to expect.  After almost missing my international flight, I was finally able to relax on a long 9 hour flight to Zurich and then another 9 hour flight to Muscat, Oman.  You see, this was no ordinary report to an Air Force base and begin your time. There was no base.  There were no dorms. There were no chow halls. There was the Embassy. I was tasked to work at a U.S. Embassy. I didn’t even know such a tasking existed.  No one ever talks about this sort of tasking.  It was going to be interesting.

This was a joint environment. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force.  I was around other branches actively for the first time in my career.  What do you do when you find yourself learning the culture of other branches? You become a sponge and start learning the best you can. Sadly, I just wasn’t up to par on how other branches operate.  I highly respect my brothers and sisters in arms from other branches, but I honestly don’t know much about the other branches.  I was not only about to learn a new position, but I was about to learn how to work with other services on a different level than the usual operations that I was accustomed to in the Air Force.

If you know me, I don’t take part in anything without trying to learn something about leadership.  Thus, after 20 hours of flying back home, reflecting and analyzing what I just did for the last six months I have narrowed down the lessons I’ve learned while working in a joint service environment.

Teamwork makes the dream work.  When you combine multiple cultures into one culture, things can get tough. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, different terminology, different skills and everyone had different missions that contribute to the overall mission. We all had our own missions to do, but when someone needed the assistance from someone else, you had their attention. When you have the cooperation of others that agree on the same solution while striving for a shared/common goal, you get success.  I learned that when you need help to make progress, find out who the subject matter expert is on the team so they can bring their skills to the court.  You can’t win alone.  Use your team when necessary.  Leaders don’t lead because they know all of the answers, they lead knowing that diversity is a great team asset.  Teamwork is viable and valuable. If you can’t take another step, someone on your team will be able to help you take it.  Leaders utilize their team members effectively.

The right environment makes a difference.  I was the lowest ranking member in the office.  In fact, we only had three enlisted members in the office.  Everyone else was an officer.  As the new guy in the office learning not only about the job, but the people and their mission, I was a sponge taking in information on a level I’ve never known.  Given that it was a joint environment, the people around me helped me learn, at my pace, how they operated and how they contributed to the mission.  They didn’t get frustrated that I didn’t know certain processes or procedures, but they adjusted as needed to fit my learning needs.  They didn’t expect me to know everything.  They created an environment of progress and learning.  Adjusting to a new position was going to take a little time. Leaders are adaptable.  They are able to change approaches on a whim.  I am thankful for the officers who were patient with me as I learned about my job, learned about them and learned about the whole mission.  They helped me learn effectively and they taught me effectively. The environment, in a way, changed to fit my knowledge, but yet remained in a progressive state.  I believe if I entered a work environment that demanded instant knowledge, instant responses, instant right answers that I would have been overly stressed making the office a place I didn’t want to be in.  I’m thankful to learn the importance of culture in a joint level. An effective work culture contributes to the effectiveness of the office. The people can make that happen and it’s people that should make that happen. Leaders are adaptable and create environments fit for growth.

Communication is key for any team to function.  There were some days where everyone was in the office and some days where only a few remained in the office.  Communication goes a long way and without communication no team can function fluidly.  We had meetings Sunday morning and Thursday afternoon.  Sunday morning was a time to say, hey, here is what is going on this week.  Thursday was a time to reflect on what happened during the week as preparation for the next.  Although, at first, I really didn’t see the need for two meetings a week, but looking back, these meetings were very important. Even though, I had a small role in them, for the big picture, they were crucial. This was the time where we all came together in one room to talk through issues and how we were going to fix them. This wasn’t a time just for updates, but this was a time to communicate.  Communication was the driving force for this.  Everyone had their chance to speak and everyone had a chance to listen, learn, provide feedback, and provide ideas/suggestions.  Without this circle of communication, getting everyone on the same page would take a lot more effort and time.  I’ve been through many staff meetings and some seem like a waste of time, lack purpose and boring.  I began to look at these meetings as the chance to communicate. As everyone had their own agenda during the week and turned many pages, this time allowed everyone to sync up and get on the same page.  Communication was key in making this happen. Leaders communicate. 

You’ve got to have balance! When you’re away from your family during the holidays, it can take a hit on your spirit and your morale. The best thing about this deployment was that when we weren’t at work, we weren’t working. Haha. The people around me would always have something going on that allowed us to hang out, relax, and keep the morale up. Weather it was a camping trip, a hiking trip, a site seeing trip, or even just going out to eat, it was an important time to balance the week out.  Balance is very important even when you’re not deployed.  Although, I wasn’t around my family, we became like a family. We made sure there was a time for fun. It wasn’t forced, like “mandatory fun,” it was genuine fun.  I find that foreign in our culture sometimes. We try to force it with fun runs, BBQs, etc. Sometimes the best thing to do is provide the opportunity and those who want to show up can voluntarily show up.  Balance helped me stay positive and grateful.  I met awesome people and I’m grateful they provided the opportunity to have a little fun while being away from my family. Leaders provide balance. 

Reviving Core Values

Leadership, Organization

Every day I walk up a flight of stairs to my office where I work as NCOIC, Administration Management. On the first set of stairs, there are three steps that have one Air Force core value written on each of them.  Integrity, Service, Excellence. These core values are burned into the memory of every Airman since day one of basic training. They are meant to guide us. They are meant to be lived. They are meant to be a path of being better, doing better and knowing better. Yet, at times, we, members in the Air Force, undervalue and underutilize our core values. 

Values drive the behavior of any organization, not just the military. Values are set so that the people in the organization have a guiding light, a north star to show which direction to go when we’re lost and to remind us that although, people fail, our values cannot. Values will be rock solid. Values will never fail you. Values will always be there when you need them.

An organization that doesn’t have a set of values setting the behavior of the organization will often fail. It would be as if the organization is walking blindly. Our Air Force core values are easy to understand. Opportunities are birthed every day that allow us to perform our core values. Values are not meant to be used sparingly, they are meant to be used at every opportunity that arises. It’s how we create a culture of positive behavior. We can correlate a core value into almost every decision and every action and if we’re dedicated to actually living them, we’ll never be wrong. Though, we can fail as people and as a leader, it doesn’t mean values have failed you, it just means that you’ve failed at what you’re doing.  Ret. Gen Stanley McCrystal once said, “Leaders can let you fail and yet not let you be a failure.”  The same goes for our core values.  Though, you, a person may fail, if your core values are the heart of your actions, you will not be a failure.  It just means you have to try again.

Sure, we hear them, read them and every Airman is given a coin that has them embedded in it, but are we using them to the fullest potential? Even more, are we, as a team and individuals using them at all? Is it even possible to live them constantly every day? I like to think that if we gave a little more effort into living our core values how awesome our leadership would be and how awesome our teams would be. Walking up the steps to my office while reading our core values challenges me to live them. Just like in any busy work culture, it’s easy to overlook our values. I’m guilty of it, I’m sure others are too. Will there be days that you just don’t feel like putting in the effort? Of course, but our core values even address that behavior. 

The Air Force provides a definition for each core value(can be found here), but is that the end all be all to the core values? No. They can mean different things to different people and can be elaborated on.  What do you think they mean?  It’s a question that we, as an entire organization sort of forgot about as we engage in our daily duties and I believe our core values need to be given the attention they deserve. Right? Our culture depends on it.  Lately, it seems we’ve lost sight of our values and that’s okay, we’re human, we forget things, we know life is busy. It’s never too late to revive them and use them to improve our culture. Our core values have unlimited value.

Above all else, values help us be and become better leaders. When we feel our teams slipping in character, judgement and performance, we should always look at our values.  They’ll keep us in line and keep us moving forward.  Values create a work environment fit to thrive and survive.  Here is my personal look at how I apply and see the Air Force core values. I hope over the next few days or weeks you consider writing your perspective on the core values.  Share your perspective with your team, use it as a topic of professional development.  Get to know your Airman’s perspective to see how they view them.

Integrity first –  It’s not just about doing the right thing when no one is watching, it’s also about holding yourself accountable when no one is watching.   This also includes you holding your team members accountable.  It’s about carrying out your responsibilities accurately and effectively as possible. Show humility when you don’t have the answer. It’s okay to be wrong. Own your mistakes.  Be transparent in what you do. Keep true to yourself and be a person others can count on.  Integrity is about how the team is held together.  Make sure there are no kinks in your line that can jeopardize how the team holds on together. 

Service before self There will be days when you wake up and you just don’t feel like it.  We’ve all had those days and we will have more. What we do as Airman is bigger than ourselves.  It’s bigger than our personal desires.  Service before self is simple.  Your duties come first to include the service of leadership.  It’s about taking care of people as well. People are a part of the service so they must be taken care of so they can take care of the mission. Personal desires can always be put be aside to handle an issue/task/challenge at hand. This is not about you, it’s about the team.  When the team wins, you win.

Excellence in all we do –  My middle school coach used to say, “Go hard or go home.”  That was the standard.  Was it possible to give your full 100% every single football practice? No, but it wasn’t just about your physical ability. It was about your mentality, your heart, your attention, your dedication. It was more than running hard or hitting hard. It was the effort, the approach to the game. We must not only do our best, but whatever we do must be done with the results of great effort.  It’s hard to really measure effort, but people can always tell when you are giving less than what you are capable of giving. Whatever we’re working on, the end goal, must reflect excellence. Don’t commit to something unless you can give your absolute full attention and effort it deserves. One of my favorite quotes is from one of my favorite runners Steve Prefontaine. “To give any less than your best is to sacrifice a gift.” There is no time for slacking, half-assing, or procrastination.  If you’re going to do a job, do it right.  In the words of Deadpool, “Maximum effort.”

A 3 Pointer in Failure Readiness

Leadership, Life, Organization, TEDTalks

I don’t watch a lot of sports, nor do I play very many, but I am a very competitive person in just about everything.  Everyone knows that competitive people dislike losing.  I was never much of a basketball player, but I did play in middle school and a little in high school.  I remember playing in middle school and one particular game stood out more than the rest.  We were losing by 6 and we had .57 seconds on the clock before halftime.  Half a second!  It was our ball under our own basket.  The coach called a stack play and knowing we only had a split second, I refused to run the play.  There wasn’t time for it.  I took a risk.  As soon as the ball was in play a shot had to be made, if a shot could be taken.  I actually remember setting up for the play and then breaking to run to the 3-point line around the opposite side.  The person throwing the ball was telling me to get back, but I said, ”We don’t have time for a play, throw me the ball.”  I was wide open!  He threw me the ball and I shot the 3 pointer.  I made it, but we were still losing. 

If there is one thing that we dislike the most it would be failing.  We are anti-failure! We don’t want it to happen!  It doesn’t feel good and it can cost us time, money and resources. Though it doesn’t feel good, it’s bound to happen at some point.  We all experience failure.

Even though I made that shot, it wasn’t enough to tie or take the lead. What I felt was failure.  I remember sitting in the locker room and I was very upset that we were losing.  We weren’t winning and to come back seemed like it would need a miracle.  I was not happy and I began to think losing was inevitable.  As I look back, I now know that there is a way to fail the right way.  I may not have realized the in-depth look at failing, but I do now. Here are a few lessons I extracted from this memory that has helped me be ready for failure. 

Mindset; Be prepared – Burn it in your mind that failing is okay.  If you haven’t heard the TedTalk by Ret Gen Stanley McCrystal – Listen, Learn and then Lead, he makes the comment, “Leaders can let you fail and yet not let you be a failure.”  When you fail, it doesn’t make you a failure.  It’s what you do next that defines your success.  Have the right mindset that failing is okay and that it is a possibility.  Don’t focus on failing, but be ready to try again.  It’s not being negative, it’s being prepared for whatever may come.  I believe when you’re ready for anything, even failing, that you’re getting a head of the game.  Don’t be fooled by failing.  It’s not the end, it’s just the beginning of another try.

Learn; Take away something new – There is learning to do in failing.  Always see what there is to learn from failing.  Remember that failing is sort of like constructive criticism.  It’s a chance to reevaluate what you’re doing so that you can try again.  Learn what worked, what didn’t work and why it failed in the first place. Learn something out of failing!

It was halftime now and it was now the coach’s opportunity to teach us what we were possibly doing wrong.  We evaluated what we were doing, we created an improved plan to fix it and then we took the 2nd half as the time to execute it.  We created that execution plan by learning from what we did the first half. We learned!

Attitude; Don’t be negative – Attitude changes everything.  If you have a bad attitude, it brings you down and the team down.  No one likes a downer.  Be positive that you will succeed.  Failing at something is a road bump.  You can still keep going as long as you remain positive and dedicated.  Keep your spirits up.  Having a good attitude can be contagious.  It’s good to pass that along. Sir Winston said, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”  Do not let failure control your emotions and certainly don’t let failure define who you are. Of course during any halftime, you’re not there to just create a new game plan, but you’re there to get re-motivated.  A time to push away the negatives and focus on the positives.  An attitude adjustment!

The half-time was a time to regain our composure and focus on turning the score around.  We went back out there and we played hard.  It was a close game and at the end, we ended up winning by 3 points.  I always look back at that game and think that if I had not made that shot would we have won? Remember the game is only over when you give up.

4 Leadership Lessons From A 4 Year Old Playing Angry Birds Stella

Ideas, Leadership, Organization

Millions of people have played the game. Millions of people continue to play the game. I’m not one of those people. I have nothing against games and I have nothing against people who play them. I just choose not to play them. I know there can be benefits of playing games and they are more than just entertainment. It’s up to the people to figure out what. Depending the game, they can be a very educational element.

My daughter, Holly plays it! Angry Birds! My 4 year old is savvier on how to play it than I. Is that a bad thing? Most people may think that allowing young children to play games such as this is killing the engagement they have with real books and real games. There may be some truth to that, but as a parent, I’d never let that happen. My daughter has tons of books and she loves it when we buy more. She even likes comics!! And as a geeky parent, it makes me happy.

She has the Angry Birds Stella version. It’s suited for females, but for all. This version is basically a post cursor to the Angry Birds series. Stella, the main character has a few other friends in the game and each one has a specific skill in knocking out those pesky pigs. I won’t go into too much of the game because this lesson isn’t completely about the game; it’s about what my daughter taught me while she was playing the game.

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After traveling in a car for 3 hours, followed by a 2 hour flight, a 30 minute drive back home, and a quick trip to the book store to end the day, Holly grabbed her tablet and began playing Angry Birds Stella while I sat right next to her reading a book. Every few moments Holly would ask me to watch her play and I did. At one level she asked if I wanted to play. Even though, I don’t play the game, I know what the objective is. I shot the first bird, hit a few targets and then came to the point where I had to actually think how to knock out the rest. I shot my last bird, I failed! Holly said, “Let me show you how to do it.” Holly took a turn at the level again and she got past the point I couldn’t pass…and thus she reminded me of a few great lessons.

How did Holly show up her Daddy on this game? As the game has 5 bird characters each with a unique skill, we’ll call these 5 birds Holly’s team. Holly knew their skills and understood what each bird was capable of doing. She beat me, it, because she knew how to utilize the talent of her teammates. What I failed to do was utilize the right player. This level required the use of all team members, but at a specific time. Holly taught me that a leader must know the capabilities, skills, limits and understand what team member is best to complete the play. Collectively, the team can complete the goal, mission or task. Leaders know the limitations and capabilities of their team.

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On another note, she taught me that before you play the game, you must know how to play the game. I didn’t really know how to play the game; I just knew the overall objective. In this, you had to know specifically the mission or goal at hand. As a leader, you must know what you’re about to tackle especially with a team with various skills and talents. Leaders know the mission!

Like I mentioned, I knew the idea of the game, but Holly knew strategy. I didn’t have a strategy; I just took an attempt at slingshoting birds to ‘try’ to beat it. She knew which characters to use at certain times and as a result, she didn’t run out of birds to complete the level. I used up every one of them and still failed the level. The more information you have the better chance you have at accomplishing tasks, goals and the mission. Leaders must know strategy and must have a plan in place.

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Above all, at 4 years old, she taught me that even the people you’re leading can teach you a thing or two. It’s best to use any situation as a time to learn. Leaders learn from their followers, a lesson that I learned recently when a buddy of mine sent me, “If you’re not learning from your followers, you’re not leading.” It’s true. Leaders must trust that they do not know everything and that at times you may be the one who knows the least.

These lessons aren’t completely new to me or others, but the fact that a 4 year old could teach such lessons, it makes her Daddy proud, very proud. I challenge anyone to pay more attention to the younger generation, they’re teaching us things and they don’t even know it.

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Thank you, Holly for teaching Daddy a few leadership lessons!!

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!

Superman–X-Ray Vision

Leadership, Superman

Superman has many superpowers.  He can fly, he is extremely fast, he has laser heating eyes, he has strength beyond belief, and let’s not forget, he can see through objects.  Seeing through objects basically allows

Superman to see around corners.   

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Seeing around corners isn’t easy for a leader.  They must use experience, data, probability and risk.  The outcome can be right and it can also be wrong.  It’s not perfect, but as a leader, you’re job is to get your team through the task or to a destination in a timely, accurate manner.  Knowing what waits around the corner helps you prepare your team for what to expect.

Leaders….They see around corners, shaping their future, not just reacting to it.-Rosalinde Torres

Anticipating the next move in any scenario is crucial to preparing for what could happen next.  Leaders want to be able to lead their team confidently and to the best of their ability.  This is why seeing around corners is highly important for a leader to develop.  The team relies on you for information, direction and to lead them through anything that may happen. 

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Develop your x-ray vision by getting your team to play in a friendly sporting game such as tag football, softball, or any game that involves strategy such as chess.  These type games are in a way, a learn as you go type game.  Every play is different and it requires you to at least think ahead as to what you and your team need to do on the next move.  Exercising the think on your feet ability can really enhance your reaction to what’s next and also perhaps enhance your ability to see around corners.  Lead like Superman.