Superheroes and supervillains may seem a far cry from your everyday HR leader, but, believe it or not, there are a few useful lessons to be learnt from our favourite comic book characters. After all, they certainly know how to inspire and motivate their teams (and save/take over the world on occasion).
Wonder what tips you could possibly take from the Captain Marvels and Jokers of the world? Read on to find out.
Iron Man – Be transparent
When it comes to leadership, Tony Stark AKA Iron Man pretty much has it down to a tee. Not only is he the founder of the multimillion-dollar business Stark Industries (a recent piece by Currys PC World looking at the cost of being a superhero estimated he’s worth a hot £450 million!), he’s also the lead Avenger, guiding regular missions to save the world. Iron Man knows that his success comes as a result of the hard work his team puts in, and he respects them for that. He also understands that, for a team to work well together, there must be trust and transparency so everyone is on the same page.
HR professionals can learn a lot from his charismatic and upfront leadership style. Clarity strengthens relationships and helps to make employees feel valued and respected. Stark-style transparency can also help to align shared values and visions for the company that everyone can strive towards as a collective.
The Joker – Think strategically
While the Joker has been awarded notoriety around Gotham for his havoc-wreaking habits and criminal behaviour, one thing you’ve got to admire the guy for is his ability to devise a faultless plan. He knows that being able to communicate a clear, strategic and executable plan is the best way to influence others and gain their trust. Because, as he says so himself:“nobody panics when things go ‘according to plan.’”
HR don’t solely focus on the day-to-day operations of a business. They also play a significant role in the long-term goals for a company. By visualising the future, you can identify areas that need work and the actions that can be taken in the short-term to work towards the company’s end goal.
Black Panther – Leverage new technology
Black Panther has an extensive collection of the latest gadgets and tech – largely thanks to his younger sister, Princess Shuri – and they not only make him one of the coolest superheroes out there, but also fuel him with some serious power. From his nanotechnology suit and fortified vibranium trainers that absorb and redistribute energy, to a set of kimoyo beads that allow him to communicate and access endless information, there’s no question that he’s using technology to his advantage.
Like Black Panther, great HR leaders are technology minded. They understand that tech is shaping the modern workplace – if not the entire world — and they must leverage it in order to improve processes, systems and productivity. Whether it’s implementing a new employee engagement tool, enabling remote working or harnessing social media for recruitment purposes, they’ve always got their finger on the pulse when it comes to new tech trends.
Thanos – Know your team’s strengths
Thanos had a very clear vision of what he wanted to achieve – to become the all-powerful owner of the six Infinity Stones. And, at the end of the day, it was by enlisting a strong team of assistants that he succeeded. By breaking his goal down into smaller tasks and assigning them to his followers based on their unique strengths, he achieved his goal.
A good HR leader will know the strengths and weaknesses of their workforce. This not only means they can smartly assign tasks to individuals based on who they know will excel in that area, but they can also use this information to provide training and support where it is needed within the organisation.
Captain Marvel – Be proactive
After crash landing on Earth, Carol Danvers AKA Captain Marvel immediately took control. Time after time she demonstrated a proactive attitude towards challenges and getting stuff done with confidence, all the while leading others.
Great HR leaders don’t wait for problems to resolve themselves; they adopt a proactive attitude so they might prevent them from becoming a problem in the first place. For example, HR are well-placed to spot tension among employees and intervening or identifying a dip in morale and taking action to combat it.
Remember, not all heroes wear capes! Follow the lead of some of the world’s biggest superheroes and supervillains and you could become an HR hero yourself. While they seem like an unusual source of inspiration, there are some clear leadership lessons to be learnt from them that can help you to improve your leadership style, drive productivity in the workforce and meet business goals.