3 Management Tips From The Avengers
by Scott Danielson
The summer movie season has started with a bang. After years of anticipation and five films of preparation, Marvel Studio has finally released their super hero team up of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and the Hulk. Excitement has been especially high here in Cleveland (VoicePro’s® headquarters), since many of the scenes in The Avengers were shot in the downtown area, with locals filling the ranks of the extras.
The results have been unprecedented.
The Avengers has broken box office records, critics are giving the movie high praise, and it will likely be either the first or second highest grossing film of the year. As a comic book and movie fan, I fit right into the target demographic and I rushed to see the movie on opening weekend. As expected, there was action and spectacle aplenty. On top of that, I was fascinated to see how the heroes worked as a team—or didn’t. It was a great lesson in team dynamics. While it’s unlikely you’ll ever lead a team of super powered beings to save the planet, there’s much to learn from the struggles of this all powerful team.
Here are three tips I learned from The Avengers. Use them to run your own squad of office super heroes.
#1 Demonstrate Clear Leadership
One of the main problems the Avengers face is lack of central leadership. The heroes are all accustomed to either working independently or taking orders from others. This leads to a number of miscommunications and dustups, including a battle between Iron Man and Thor. Without a clear leader, it becomes almost impossible for the team to function.
While the lead-by-committee option sounds appealing, the need for a clearly defined leader can’t be denied. Forbes author Mike Myatt likens consensus decisions to a baseball manager letting the players determine the lineup. If left entirely on their own, even reasonable employees will jockey for power and personal gain. It’s the leader’s job to keep the team on task.
#2 Put Personal Issues Aside
For a team full of super-powered beings, the Avengers have a lot of personal problems. Bruce Banner hates turning into the Hulk, Tony Stark doesn’t trust authority, and Captain America feels completely out of place in the modern world. However, once hordes of aliens begin a hostile invasion, all their petty issues take a back seat to saving the Earth from destruction.
When employees clash, they tend to mistake personal problems for business problems. For example, bringing up flaws in a proposal can be seen as an attempted power play, instead of the helpful advice it’s intended to be. Encourage your employees to keep their eyes on the goal. Foster a sense of unity so that, when the going gets tough, they band together. If conflict does arise, teach them how to disagree in ways that move the organization forward.
#3 Define Roles and Responsibilities
The Avengers each have both strengths and weaknesses. The Hulk has the power to level buildings but lacks…subtlety. It would be a huge mistake to give the big, green, rage monster a task involving precision or subtle human manipulation. Captain America quickly realizes this and gives Hulk a simple task: “Smash.”
In an attempt to avoid micromanaging, many managers fail to clearly define individual roles. This can be maddening for employees, because a major cause of conflict in the workplace is unclear roles and responsibilities. An equally disastrous mistake is to misjudge an individual’s abilities and try to jam a square peg into a round hole. Your job as a manager is to determine your team’s strengths and assign responsibilities according to each individual’s skills and expertise.
Assembling a team of talented people is no small feat and certainly improves your chances for success. However, with strong employees come strong personalities, beliefs, and egos. It’s up to managers to grab the reigns. Take a lesson from the Avengers. Leadership may not be a super power, but it’s essential for any team to succeed.
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Image provided by marvelousRoland