Given the healthy box office for The Avengers: Age of Ultron, there’s no question that superheroes remain a dominant factor in movies, television and pop culture – with no plans to stop the momentum.
In fact, Warner Bros., which owns the rights to a major portion of the DC Comic universe; Disney, which owns a majority share of Marvel Comics; and Sony and Fox, which each have a foothold in the same business, have all announced superhero movies through 2020. As I said, there are no plans to slow down.
I recently spoke about the marketing tactics of these movie franchises, which provide superheroes like Iron Man and Captain America with their own Twitter handles. That makes for a great marketing mix, and each character has thousands of followers.
While these scenarios certainly showcase the power these characters have had over multiple generations, that same power can be harnessed by entrepreneurs who are building and cultivating their own winning teams (in the real world).
What follows are five team strategies that The Avengers, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four – as well as individual superheroes like The Hulk and Thor – can offer entrepreneurs wanting to bring out the best in their own teams.
1. Everyone has different talents.
The Avengers are an eclectic team, whose members come from other planets, some with super powers, some with only super brains. The same thought process could apply to your team, in that no two people are the same, and no two people have the same skill sets.
When you recognize your team members’ individual strengths and how they work together as a whole, that’s when your team will really win the day. Yes, it’s true that The Avengers can win individually, as Captain America and Thor have proved; however, it’s when they work together that they can really overcome the worst being thrown at them.
Your sales team members may be closing big sales by themselves, but when push comes to shove and one salesperson needs an extra hand, your other salespeople shouldn’t hesitate to step in.
As an entrepreneur, you should find the people who share your vision, complement the skill sets you’re looking for in each individual role and are able to work as part of a unit. Then put them in the right seats on the bus – or in the case of The Avengers, in the helicarrier.
2. Everyone works in different ways.
Think of the different players who make up the X-Mensuperheroes. From Cyclops to Beast to Rogue to Magneto and Professor X: Each works in different ways and responds to things individually. When thinking about your team, recognize the different style with which each team member works.
You will have team members, like Professor X, who handle conflict with a calm demeanor, trying to help everyone work together. You’ll also have team members, like Mystique, who are easily adaptable and can work in any situation.
Then there are those who mirror Cyclops, who is laser-focused on what needs to be done. Because of their laser focus, however, these team members may lose sight of other things going on around them and where their true attention needs to lie.
When each team member works differently from his or her teammates – whether that means cool, calm and collected or energetic, even explosive, you as the leader (their Professor X) must step up and wrangle everyone, to keep the team moving as a whole in the same direction.
3. Everyone needs different tools for the job.
Thor has his hammer, Mjölnir. Tony Stark has a wide assortment of Iron Man suits. And there are more examples. But each tool enables its respective superheroe to accomplish specific tasks. As an entrepreneur, and a leader in your business, you have the responsibility to give your team the tools they need to complete their jobs.
For some, that may mean a full Adobe Creative Suite. For others, it’s a tool for Twitter, like OneQube, or for Facebook like Smync. Yes, there are costs associated – but if any specific tool allows your team to get the job done faster and more smartly and efficiently – why hold them back by saying no?
That isn’t to say that you should purchase every tool your team suggests. Ensure that team members are utilizing their current tools to their fullest capabilities, and have them make their case as to why they need something new or additional.
Give your team the power to show you the tools they need to complete their missions. You’re not doing their job every single day, so you may not know what’s missing.
4. Be proud (and supportive) of your team’s differences.
As I said before, no two people on your team are the same. The world would be a boring place if we all were the same! Just as the characters who make up The Avengersare quite different from one another, their differences still count.
There is Thor, who is royalty from a completely different planet. There is Tony Stark, who has no super powers but is highly intelligent and able to craft things that allow him to save the day. Then there is Bruce Banner, a brilliant scientist who, when angry, turns into The Hulk. Each of these characters is completely opposite from any other, just like your team members, whose differences should be respected..
Whether that means a difference based in religion, nationality, culture, orientation or gender, your team members are unique, gifted individuals and should be celebrated as such. I’m not talking about throwing a party. I’m suggesting that, the next time you have an outing, visit a restaurant that celebrates someone’s culture.
Respect those with different religious beliefs (or nonbeliefs).. And if someone has a holiday coming up, be aware. I’m American, and there are a number of times when I'm wishing my Canadian, Australian and Indian friends happy holidays.
These simple ways of enjoying others’ unique differences helps bring out the best in your team members.
5. Ultimately, you’re the leader.
You are the Nick Fury, the Professor X, and the Star-Lord of your team. You have responsibility for choosing your team members wisely, leading them through the good and bad, providing them the tools they need to win their battles and bringing out the best in them.
Nurture your team members to greatness by keeping in mind their unique skill sets and teaching them to utilize those tools to the fullest. That’s what great entrepreneurs aspire to do, and what superhero leaders do every day.