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Are You Team X-Men or Avengers?

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July 9, 2019

Though they hail from the same comic book universe, for many fans with an affinity for either X-men or Avengers, this question is grounds for a serious debate.  Personally, I don’t hold a strong allegiance to either team.  Instead, I’m a fan of individual characters like Black Panther, Magneto, and Phoenix.  For me it’s all about the individual superpowers!

In addition to blockbuster revenues and cult followings, the Marvel superheroes, individually and collectively, can teach us a thing or two about building an effective team.  No matter the size of your organization– whether it is on a rapid growth spurt, or operating at smooth clip– the culture of team dynamics remains a critical component of entrepreneurial leadership. 

So this week, we’re looking to the X-men and Avengers for practical insights on how to cultivate a high performing and impactful team. 

Testing Your Superpower

A classic literary analysis of the hero’s journey always includes a moment when the hero discovers his or her superpower and shortly thereafter puts this newfound talent or skill to the test. 

It’s why Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters was created.  It’s when Spiderman discovers he can jump from building to building.  It’s the moment when Jean Grey discovers she is telepathic-telekinetic after witnessing a tragic accidents involving her childhood bestie.

Since your superpowers maybe less pronounced than that of Captain Marvel or the Hulk, tools like Clifton StrengthFinder are helpful in unlocking awareness of one’s natural gifts.  Though by no means exhaustive, this assessment breaks down common strengths into 4 domains and 34 themes:

Discovery is an essential phase in  journey of maximizing your individual potential.  You can’t play to your strengths if you don’t know what they are.

It’s A Balancing Act

What’s interesting about both X-Men and Avengers is despite their unique skills and talents, they self-select into groups that coalesce around shared visions. 

X-men, for example, all adopt the philosophy that their genetic mutations and resulting talents should be leveraged to help non-mutants.  Conversely, the Magneto-led camp, holds true the belief that because mutants are genetically superior they should hold greater power and influence over non-mutants. 

While the diametric opposition within the X-men comic story may seem like semantics, it teaches us an important lesson:  building a strong team is balancing act .  Team building is an art of curation that both embodies diversity while ensuring clear alignment around shared vision and values. 

Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder and investor at Greylock, encourages talent developers to ensure the engine of their team is driven by other people’s passions: “make it easy for folks to be heroes in their own story.”

What’s your strategy for building a super powerful team?


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