Leadership, Uncategorized

On Leadership: Captain America vs Iron Man

Unless you’ve been stuck under a rock for the last two weeks, you’ve probably watched The Avengers. It brought to together some of the strongest superheroes to defend the Earth against an alien race. SPOILER ALERT: The Avengers win.

I recently had a conversation with my brother about Captain America. He felt that Captain America was a useless superhero. He was the ordained leader of the Avengers team but didn’t have any above supernatural powers. My brother felt Captain America was the odd super hero out. His favorite avenger is  Iron Man if that tells you anything.

I definitely disagree with my brother. Captain America was one of the most important characters in the movie. He did three things specifically that made the Avengers team successful:

  1. Identified his teammate’s strengths and used their powers effectively.  Captain America coordinated the final attack against the aliens by using all the resources available including his team. By leveraging the strengths and talents of his team members and civilians, they were able to mount a solid defense.
  2. Made the tough decisions. Another spoiler alert….Captain America made the decision to close the portal on Iron Man. I don’t know if anyone else would have made that decision.
  3. Strategy. While recognizing strengths is an significant part of creating strategy, Captain America saw the big picture and was able to deploy all pieces effectively. That is an invaluable asset to any team.

I don’t blame my brother for thinking Iron Man should be the “leader” of The Avengers. He’s a pretty brilliant guy who has fancy toys and can think his way out of any problem. Captain America and Iron Man clash frequently throughout the movie because Captain America thinks Iron Man does not what it takes to sacrifice himself for the mission. Spoiler Alert: (He ends up risking his life to save Manhattan.)

Captain America is one of my favorite avengers for the exact reason my brother doesn’t like him. He has super strength but his real super power is his ability to manage and lead the Avengers team. Every high caliber team needs a high caliber leader in order to properly tap their potential. So the next time you want to stack your team, ask yourself… Are you a high caliber leader?

communication, Leadership

Leadership and Communication

Great leaders are effective communicators. Think of MLK, Gandhi, Lincoln, and FDR. They were all leaders who understood the value of their words and how it would translate to action. Why did their messages hit so hard with the crowds that, at times, hung on to their every word?

I think it comes down to two very simple strategies that anyone can apply when talking to a group of people.

1. Believe, know and live your message. Have an understanding of what you’re saying to the point where people could understand your message without hearing you speak. Gandhi is one of the best examples. He preached non-violence and acted in accordance to his beliefs. Embodying your message gives you the unshakable confidence when communicating your message.

2. Know your audience. The great leaders always know their followers. They empathize, sympathize and understand where they are and where they come from. MLK understood that his followers needed the big picture and sought inspiration in his words. His sermon style speeches naturally gave his listeners hope and courage to work for a brighter future.

This is not an exhaustive list. I think that you’re half way to victory if you know your message well and the audience that will receive the message. At the end of the day, great leaders communicate well to inspire others or to call them to action. These two skills go hand in hand. Great leaders communicate well and effective communicators make for great leaders. I wonder which came first?