During our uncertain and ever-changing times, I am grateful for movies on demand or on DVD, especially the ones where the good guys like Captain America win! Is everyone familiar with Captain America? He is a WWII experiment to create the ultimate solider: he’s super strong, incredibly fast, and indestructible. In the first movie, he got frozen and woke up some 70 years later. In the second one, The Winter Soldier, the movie starts out with him running around the National Mall in Washington DC—a three-mile loop I believe. It is early, and only one other runner is out. Being the gentleman that he is, Captain America says, “On your left” as he passes. The guy, running more like me (slow) grunts a thank you. Seconds later, Captain America passes him again. “On your left.” By the third lap, the guy is frustrated and quips “Don’t say it,” but Captain America once again politely says, “On your left.” Now ticked off, the man yells, “Are you kidding me?” He tries to pick up his pace, but his legs are wobbly and his lungs are burning. He finally gives up on his run and leans against a tree to catch his breath. Captain America comes over after his run and talks to the man, who ends up being the Falcon, another American soldier.
Later on in the movie franchise, Captain America is given a team of other heroes— like the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the Black Widow, and Hawkeye—and is asked to lead them. They call themselves The Avengers, and things don’t go very well when they are all together in the same room. Put it this way, a lot of things get broken! This makes me think of the calling of real leadership during turbulent times because let’s face it, leadership can feel just like herding a bunch of super heroes, can’t it? I mean, you have this diverse group of people with differing backgrounds, skills, education, dreams, hopes, values, ideas…all coming together for a common purpose. You may not be saving the planet, but you do need to meet company objectives and goals…without killing each other in the process!
Your eclectic mix of individuals makes up your teams and departments. As leaders, you are tasked to interact, communicate, motivated, lead and support ALL of them: The Thors, Hulks, Iron Mans, Black Widows, and Hawkeyes. How you communicate and lead will determine whether your team becomes The Avengers or is scattered across the galaxy to some far-away land.
I’ve said for years how I believe people are drawn to super heroes like Captain America because of his exceptional performance, communication, and ability to inspire and motivate people to greatness. I would now add that when the stuff hits the fan, we all want someone in charge whom we trust; we want to feel safe. I believe these types of movies are such a hit because everyone wants a leader in their life…one they would follow anywhere. Well, we may not be super heroes, but we CAN be that leader.
Just like Captain America chooses to lead people—we can decide to be a leader regardless of our role. Some people are in leadership roles simply because of corporate structure. This does not guarantee they will be good leaders, though. Positional leadership forces people to listen to the job title, but you cannot make them respect, admire, and follow the person—that can only be earned.
Good leadership is relationship influence. Over time, a person builds trust and rapport, gaining the respect of his or her team. They, in turn, have greater influence over what will be accomplished, how things will be done, and where they will ultimately go. Great leadership is an art AND a science. Unlike other leadership teachers, I do believe we are all wired to lead—we just do it differently. History is full of examples of different leadership styles from Martin Luther King, Jr. to General Patton. I also know that people can lead no matter their role or position. So even though you may not be a famous super hero, you can be a super leader!
How we lead is the cornerstone of my online training program, Transform Your Leadership. Since leadership starts with self, you will first discover your unique leadership style out of the four I have defined in my book, Leveraging Your Leadership Style! Through dynamic teaching, visuals, individual and team activities, you will learn to identify other’s styles and give you strategies for adapting and tips for delivering your interactions, communication, and leadership with them to set you up to lead and succeed!
If you are ready to transform your leadership and your team, click here to gain access to my online training. It is affordable, available 24/7, and will keep your team engaged during this unique time in history.
When it comes to running, I am absolutely NO Captain America. I am not even a Falcon, in all honesty. But, I ran my first marathon back in 2010 to celebrate beating a life-threatening disease. I knew I would not break any speed record, so I ran my own race and enjoyed watching the sun come up over the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. About half way through the race, I needed to adjust my shoes and loosen up my laces, as my feet had swollen (expected during long-distance running). I pulled over to the shoulder of the road and began fixing my shoes. Unbeknownst to me, I had a group of runners behind me. As they approached, they pleaded with me, “Please don’t stop or give up! You’ve been our motivator for keeping going! We’ve been following you, and you’ve helped us keep pace.”
Here I was thinking I was the caboose! I thought I was all alone back here, and I was running my race. I had my goals and objectives (to finish and feel great!). I smiled and told the group of runners that I was just adjusting my shoes, and they collectively gave a big sigh of relief. As I began running again, I knew I wasn’t just running my race now. I was leading a pack of runners to the finish line. I was leading them to their victory. My race was now no longer just about me but a common goal. And although I did not ask for the position, I was leading people to the finish line.
In case you don’t think my leadership program is for you, know this: your associates are looking to you for leadership every day. They desperately want someone—and something—to believe in. You may not be in the exact role you want. Heck, you may be wondering “how in the world did I end up herding all these difficult personalities? I mean, at least Captain America is famous!” Each and every day, though, you have the ability to positively impact people’s lives with your leadership. From the small things to the big things, you ARE making a difference. Regardless of your position, role, or title, you are influencing others.
I encourage you to continue the good fight. Rest when you must and loosen up those shoe laces from time to time. Yes, the job is a difficult one…maybe the toughest you’ve ever had…but the rewards are knowing you have invested in your company’s most important and precious asset: its people. If you haven’t been told lately, THANK YOU for all you do. By transforming your leadership, you can transform the world…one person at a time. And that makes you a super hero in my book.