SPOILER ALERT: THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR MOST MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE MOVIES RELEASED BEFORE MARCH 2019.
Left wondering how “Earth’s mightiest heroes” couldn’t defeat Thanos in Avenger’s Infinity War? While he proved to be by far the most formidable foe to date, it’s still a wonder that the genius of Iron Man, the leadership of Captain America, the sheer strength of Hulk, and the heroic courage of Thor—not to mention all the superhero friends they’ve gained over the years—couldn’t defeat this titan.
Let’s face it, this team has proven successful against the "baddest of the bad" in Loki (how many times?), the Goddess of Death, Ultron, Dormammu. The list goes on and on. So what does this tell us? The Avengers already know how to be great. The real reason they weren’t able to defeat Thanos is because they were split up and therefore unable to capitalize on each other’s strengths.
Not only will the remaining heroes need to physically fight together as a team to defeat Thanos, they will need to combine all of the leadership lessons they’ve learned to create the unstoppable team we all know they can be.
To help you know which leadership lessons to look out for in Avengers: Endgame, we’ve assembled this list of the five biggest leadership lessons from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
1. Work as a Team
While it made for an action-packed movie, three separate teams in different corners of the universe trying to accomplish the same goal without any communication at all clearly didn’t work (just ask Spiderman—oh, wait…).
Teams work better together. Just as the original Avengers movie blew the preceding stand-alone movies out of the water (both in ticket sales and in profit), so too do effective teams out-produce the performance of individual members. Working as a cohesive team enables you to fully play to the strengths of each team member, while accommodating any individual weaknesses.
Emulate the natural leadership style of Captain America. Whether he’s leading the Howling Commandos against the Nazis or leading the Avengers to stop an alien invasion, Captain America starts by discovering each teammate’s individual strengths and delegating assignments accordingly.
2. Create an Environment where Creativity Flows Freely
Can you imagine the reaction had Tony Stark pitched the idea of a Middle Eastern prison break by creating a mechanical super-suit out of old missiles and bombs? What if Peter Quill (better known as Starlord) tried to sell the Galactic Senate (or Gamora for that matter) on saving an entire planet by initiating a dance-off against Ronan the Accuser? Just because an idea sounds crazy doesn’t mean it won’t work. Create a team like the Guardians of the Galaxy where each member feels their voice is heard and their ideas are at the very least considered.
3. Don’t Fear Feedback
King T’Challa’s journey in the Black Panther is one of the greatest shows of humility Marvel has ever created. By 30 minutes into the movie, he has been crowned king of Wakanda, determined to continue the traditions of his forefathers which have brought success and wealth to his nation. When his cousin later defeats him in a challenge for the throne, T’Challa must explore problems in a new light and accept help from those he saw as enemies.
Upon his return, he discovers that the ideas that his cousin had fought to implement were more popular than he realized (though perhaps his cousin was a bit extreme). At the end of the film, after defeating his cousin and reclaiming the throne, T’Challa announces plans to implement some of the ideas behind his cousin’s revolutionary campaign—an idea that T’Challa would have never considered if he weren’t open to negative feedback.
Although you probably don’t want those you lead to challenge your authority and demand they take your job instead, you should still create an atmosphere where they feel they can truly be open in their feedback to you.
4. Learn to Work Effectively with Anyone
No one can say it better than Black Panther:
“More connects us than separates us. But 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.”
Thor and Loki, the “on-again, off-again” brothers, demonstrate the importance of teamwork even in sticky situations. In Thor: Ragnarok Thor and Loki find themselves having to work together right after Thor discovers his brother has been lying to him once again (God of Mischief, what are you up to?) and yet the duo put their differences aside to come together and save their home.
Learning to overlook faults, disagreements and differences with co-workers and team members will help you get the most out of each relationship and will help you draw the best from everyone you work with.
5. Keep It Fun
Just about every Marvel movie boasts at least one “laugh out loud” moment. These moments break up the tension, keeping the audience from getting too serious or worse, bored. Avengers: Infinity War might be one of the saddest movies of all time (or is that just the lifelong Marvel fan in me?), but the little jokes like “Why is Gamora?” and “’Footloose…Is it still the greatest movie ever made?’ ‘It never was.’” Kept things fun and lightened the mood just enough.
Nobody likes working for a leader who always takes things (or themselves) too seriously or who doesn’t know how to have fun. Channel a little Iron Man: be the leader who knows how to crack a (HR appropriate) joke every now and then. Iron Man leverages his humor perfectly, even in the most life-threatening situations, and his team benefits from it a lot.
Curious how you can help your team get the most out of what they already know? Check out this infographic to help you become a Superstar leader that will inspire your team.