5 Lessons from The Avengers

The hottest movie thus far this year is The Avengers, a Marvel Comics’ film about a group of superheroes who defend Earth against invader from other worlds.

While The Avengers is chock- full of action, there are lessons that even mere mortals can take away.

Be a team player
My college Philosophy professor was fond of saying, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” a key message throughout this movie. Put six superheroes in a room and you’re bound to have some egos clash. But they soon realize that a team effort was the only way to win, and set their differences aside for the common good.

Know your skills and respect others’
Each Avenger had unique powers — and limitations — that were eventually appreciated by the others. Iron Man didn’t coach Thor on how to throw his hammer, nor did Captain America tell Hulk how to wreak havoc on the invaders. Do people in your organization respect others’ and trust them to do their job? Or, do you see micromanagement by peers and supervisors? One of my favorite bosses regularly said it was his job to set the vision and then get out of the way so staff could make it happen.

Take risks
The Avengers brought together several franchises: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, etc. Iron Man, in particular, has produced two successful movies with a third due next year. In The Avengers, Marvel Comics took a calculated risk by merging these characters and storylines. The film required a balancing act to ensure fans felt their favorite hero received appropriate screen time and action. By looking at the box office numbers, the risk paid off.

Plan Ahead
Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Nick Fury, created the Avengers long before they were needed. Perhaps he knew more than he let on, but regardless, Fury had a plan in place when the need arose. While you can’t predict every possible crisis, setting a foundation to respond can make a difference. Start with a list of things that could go wrong — fire, flood, employee death, data breach, robbery — and steps you’d take to respond. Who should sit on your crisis team? What tools or information would they need? Who is your press contact/spokesperson?

Do the right thing
I’m not going to give anything away, but Fury follows his convictions and goes against superiors’ directive. He acts based on a desire to do the right thing and his trust in the team. Two good lessons.

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