Updated: Nov 2, 2021
by Lucas Khoo | 20 Jul 2018
With over 76 superheroes in this movie’s cast list, there is a plethora of leaders to be featured, each with their own distinct abilities and unique qualities. Although they are all fictional characters based on comic books, one cannot deny that there are a lot leadership tips and strategies that can be learned from these superheroes and adapted into real world scenarios.
Here’s our pick of the top 5 leadership lessons from our favourite Marvel Superheroes: (Warning: Spoilers ahead!)
1. Captain America: Always Put People First and Learn to Play to Your Team’s Strength
“I CANNOT REPRESENT THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT; THE PRESIDENT DOES THAT. I MUST REPRESENT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.” – STEVE ROGERS, CAPTAIN AMERICA
Captain America (Steve Rogers) is one of Marvel’s most iconic heroes since the beginning of the franchise. Following the unfortunate events depicted in Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rogers abandoned his patriotic mantle and is on the run due to his anti-registration activities. However, Steve’s stance is always based on his belief in people, not institutions or processes.
He may be a superhuman hero, but it’s his human qualities that make him stand out.
Whether he’s leading superheroes or human soldiers, Captain America is great at figuring out everyone’s individual strengths and delegating job assignments accordingly. It is also no accident that his primary weapon is a shield, which he often uses to protect his team mates and other civilians. Great bosses do the same too – always protecting the team from fallout and earn employee loyalty by showing loyalty first.
Learn from Steve: When working in an organization, it’s easy to get caught up with office agendas and politics. Remember that at the heart of every company is the people – employees, customers, and vendors. Find your personal North Star to guide you as a leader with ethical and moral values and always put your people first.
2. Iron Man: Keep It Fun and Don’t Always Take Things Too Seriously at Work
“IF THERE’S ONE THING I’VE PROVEN IT’S THAT YOU CAN COUNT ON ME TO PLEASURE MYSELF.” – TONY STARK, IRON MAN
In 2008, Iron Man kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and has been the face of this successful movie franchise ever since. Genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist – Tony Stark is the proud owner of Stark Industries, the largest tech conglomerate in the world. Despite his reputation and responsibilities, Tony deserves credit for seeing the value of keeping situations light and enjoying the moment. Even in the middle of life-threatening scenarios, Tony is capable of cracking jokes to stay loose and help keep the team in check.
Learn from Tony: Nobody likes working with a leader or company that always take things too seriously. In reality, we spend a huge portion of our lives at work, so it is only logical that we find a way to keep things fun. Additionally, negative stress can cloud decision-making and restrict reactions. Empathetic leaders understand this well and know how to reduce team anxieties and introduce brief levity at appropriate times.
3. Black Panther: Be Bold Enough to Break Conventions and Listen to Your Critics
“IN TIMES OF CRISIS, THE WISE BUILD BRIDGES, WHILE THE FOOLISH BUILD BARRIERS. WE MUST FIND A WAY TO LOOK AFTER ONE ANOTHER AS IF WE WERE ONE SINGLE TRIBE.” – KING T’CHALLA, BLACK PANTHER
The movie Black Panther was an absolute theatrical masterpiece. Reported as the Top-Grossing Superhero Film of all time in the US, this cinematic marvel has touched many lives across the globe. However, while many are praising the movie for its storyline and complex characters, we examine the leadership qualities of the humble T’Challa and what young leaders can learn.
As the heir to the throne of Wakanda, T’Challa initially follows in the footsteps of the previous Wakanda Kings – keeping his country’s technological advancements and supernatural resources a secret from the outside world. It was only after being defeated by his rival, Erik Killmonger, that he gained a different perspective and sees the truth. At the end of the movie, T’Challa introduces the real Wakanda to the international community. Business leaders can learn from T’Challa too – sometimes it’s important to listen to your critics as you may discover inspirations for new strategies and ideas.
Learn from T’Challa: Whether you are a leader of a corporation or student organization, sometimes it’s worth reevaluating your closely held beliefs and direction of your organization to ensure you are still headed towards to right path.
4. Thor: Be Adaptable and Never Rely on a Single Resource or Skill
“ARE YOU THOR, THE GOD OF HAMMERS? THAT HAMMER WAS TO HELP YOU CONTROL YOUR POWER, TO FOCUS IT. IT WAS NEVER YOUR SOURCE OF STRENGTH.” – ODIN
In Marvel’s action-comedy blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok, Thor and Loki learned that they have an elder sister named Hela, who was banished by Odin from the realm for her intense hunger for power. In their first encounter, Hela blocks Thor’s attempt to strike her down and crushes his hammer Mjolnir with her bare hands. Although Thor struggled in his subsequent showdown with Hela without his hammer, Odin helped him to realise that his powers and strengths lie within him all along, and the Mjolnir is simply a tool to help him control and channel them.
Learn from Thor: The crushing of the Mjolnir is an important lesson to all leaders that losing an important tool or resource in your team doesn’t necessarily mean game over. It is important to never bank your strategy on a single skill/tool/person and learn to be adaptable when anticipating the unknown.
5. Star-Lord: Build a Diverse Workforce for Your Organisations
“I HAVE LIVED MOST OF MY LIFE SURROUNDED BY MY ENEMIES. I WOULD BE GRATEFUL TO DIE SURROUNDED BY MY FRIENDS.” – GAMORA
At the beginning of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Peter Quill (Star-Lord) was a self-centered loner who seems more concerned with profit than people. Over time, he becomes the leader of a band of roguish characters, which includes Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, and – everyone’s favourite guardian – Groot.
Peter’s team had their fair share of misunderstandings and didn’t join forces organically – they were brought together due to circumstances. In fact, the characters didn’t like each in the initial stages. However, over time they managed to look beyond their individual causes and work together using their own unique skills and abilities, which ultimately enabled them to achieve a common goal that benefits the universe.
Learn from Peter: Research has shown that having diverse teams can spark more innovation and even enhance productivity and profitability for the organization. Smart leaders should encourage a diverse range of experiences, viewpoints and skillsets in their workforce.
What about you? What other leadership or business lessons did you learn or discover from The Avengers or any other Marvel movies? Do share them with us!
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