Today's post is by Bill Wallace, vice president of Revenue Storm, a global sales consulting and revenue acceleration firm. To hear more from Bill, visit www.revenuestorm.com.
The fictional character Captain America, a superhero and leader of the Avengers, a team of superheroes, may be a perfect exemplification of many of the fundamental leadership traits that are critical in today’s business environment. While Captain America honed his leadership skills over an exceedingly long lifetime thanks to genetic rewiring, you can learn and benefit from his approach in a much shorter time frame.
Below is a list of 10 leadership secrets I believe Captain America personifies. They illustrate that leaders are made, not born. Anyone can adapt and develop the traits of an effective leader.
- Have a purpose and vision.Captain America is very clear on what he needs to do and accomplish. He understands that his purpose is to right wrongs, fight for justice, and complete virtually impossible missions. Knowing this, Captain America is able to create a strategy that accomplishes the mission and execute the necessary tactics to accomplish that strategy. As a leader, you must have an explicit purpose and vision for yourself, your team, and your mission.
- Be willing to both lead and follow. Captain America has an ego but will adopt a position of humility to advance the mission. He leverages the strengths of everyone on his team to accomplish the goal, allowing others to lead when their talents are stronger. He leads from the front, never asking anyone on his team to do something he wouldn’t do himself.
- Let every team member shine. As leader of the Avengers, Captain America is surrounded by the world’s most powerful superheroes. He understands their strengths and leverages them to best accomplish the mission. He lets each team member have a chance in the spotlight and willingly embraces team members’ ideas. Every superhero on the team has a unique skill that he can’t match, and that’s OK.
- Focus on things that will have the biggest impact. Captain America has a laser focus on the important things that create the biggest difference. He doesn’t allow himself to be dragged into the small details that won’t make a major difference. Don’t get so wrapped up in details that you miss the big picture.
- Be a risk taker but not reckless. The job of a superhero, as well as a leader, is inherently risky. The Avengers understand the risks and trust Captain America not to put them in harm’s way unnecessarily. This inspires loyalty among his team. While your circumstances are not nearly as perilous, you may need to take risks to achieve your mission.
- Don’t be afraid to break rules when it’s necessary. When rules that were created with the best intentions yield unfortunate outcomes, leaders need to trust that their judgment and experience will help them make the right call. Many rules are made by people far away from the front line. While there may be a price to pay for breaking rules, leaders need to weigh the options and consider what’s best overall.
- Share credit with those who deserve it. Captain America isn’t in it to advance himself. By sharing the credit, he gains the admiration and respect of his team; his team is willing to follow him into battle. Effective leaders recognize the contributions of their team members – and even their superiors – who helped make the mission a success. Building the currency of others doesn’t hurt yours.
- Communicate clearly and openly. Captain America is clear about his objectives and ensures his team understands what is required. He praises openly and has the tough conversations privately. Instead of avoiding constructive conflict, he speaks up if he believes there is a better way to accomplish the mission. Captain America repeatedly communicates the necessity of actions and reviews the tactics with his team to ensure everyone understands his or her role and is focused on execution.
- Admit when you’re wrong. Captain America takes responsibility for his actions and readily admits when he’s wrong. He doesn’t worry about losing respect or being seen as weak. When he makes a mistake, he owns it and acknowledges that he must consider other actions. Don’t let being right stop you from moving on productively.
- Be resilient. Captain America gets back up when he’s knocked down and never quits. He may get discouraged, but he is persistent and adaptable in order to find a way to win. He understands that intelligent actions, patience, and persistence are worth the effort.
Nothing that’s been outlined above is beyond the capability of anyone desiring to become an effective leader. If you follow the example of Captain America and work to develop the same attitude and skills, you’ll soon be overcoming challenges, creating greater results, experiencing success, and earning the respect of the superheroes who follow you.