The Avengers and Team Development: 3 valuable Ideas
Ellen A. Ensher, Ph.D. aka Professor Couch Potato
Last night I went to see The Avengers. This Saturday night activity was my eight-year-old, son, Mark’s idea of delight so away we went! I know I am about to express a minority, and possibly Anti-American opinion… but I thought the movie was really long and kinda boring. This is an official opinion of Professor Couch Potato and does NOT reflect the opinion of my family! Mark tells me I feel this way because I am a girl. Perhaps so however, as I was enduring the movie, I did realized that The Avengers actually had some valuable lessons for organizational behavior and team development.
1) Individual contributors can be brought together as an effective team when they coalesce around a common enemy. Um, I don’t think it is giving too much away if I mention that the common enemy was Loki and his band of unattractive fighting aliens (some of which needed some serious dental work..but I digress!). So, if you are having trouble getting folks to act as a team, you might want to consider who the common enemies are.
2) People with very different personalities and agendas can become an effective team if they have a higher goal that is meaningful to all of them. Spoiler alert but the common goal for The Avengers was saving the earth and all of humanity. Pretty good goal I think.
3) The most effective teams are composed of people who can appreciate and leverage their complementary skills and differences. In other words, people need to know what their super powers are and how to leverage them. Can you imagine if everybody on your team had an anger management problem and became The Hulk when provoked? Nope, that would not work. But instead if you have one raging Hulk figure, one techno nerd guy with a flying iron suit and tons of money, one guy who wields thunder and understands the enemy culture, one guy who rocks the tights and is steadfastly loyal, and one woman who is strong, beautiful, and can psyche out the enemy then you have a powerful team (I would have liked to see more female super heroes but that is another blog, another time).
Reflection Questions for Team Development
1) Who is your common enemy? Maybe it is your competitor? Most teams have at least one.
2) What are your team’s higher goals? What are goals for your team that everybody can agree are meaningful? Think about a company like Tom’s – Their higher goal is to put shoes and glasses on the feet and faces of those who need them. So even the humble job of a shoe sales person is helping to save humanity. Hmm. Maybe the bigger question is how can team members act like The Avengers?
3) What’s your super power? What are the super powers of your team members? How can these different super powers be leveraged?
The greatest lesson learned from The Avengers is that even a super hero can be more effective at saving the earth when they work as a team. Is your team working for the greatest good these days? Seems like it is a lot more fun when they do.