What ‘X-Men’ Can Teach Management

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While business executives, managers and entrepreneurs of every stripe have or will be going to see “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” they may not perceive a deeper lesson in the tale.

The X-Men are not a single hero or dynamic duo. They are a whole team of incredible beings — the type that any company would kill to have on their bench. They are extraordinary due to an overabundance of the “X-gene” causing them to have amazing abilities and powers.

How can an organization create this same kind of dynamism and put together a team as incredible? Well, teams don’t usually come pre-made off the shelf. One has to assemble them. As Martin Scorsese and others too have said, 90 percent of directing is casting, so assemble wisely.

Professor X: Let’s start with leadership. Say you are a board and need to hire a new executive director. Take a closer look at Professor Charles Francis Xavier (Professor X), the visionary and leader of the X-Men.

What qualities does he possess? He’s a telepath who can get inside most anyone’s mind, especially his opponent’s and is able to gain an understanding of their deeper, hidden thoughts, feelings and drivers.

Your own Professor X will need to see things from others’ perspectives, while being able to understand and sympathize with the various minds of donors, volunteers and staff. He or she will also need to be able to first identify and then develop and nurture younger talent, allowing each of their hidden gifts to manifest.

Wolverine: In this latest flick and because of his regenerative healing powers, Wolverine is chosen to go back in time to halt a murder that had launched the humans’ anti-mutant crusade. He’s extremely tough and rugged with animal-like instincts.

Every growth-oriented organization needs a hunter. It needs someone who can sense opportunity and get to it before everyone else does. More than a salesman, your Wolverine needs to possess the fierce ability to maneuver among obstacles while remaining loyal to the creed set forth by the visionary.

Magneto: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Viewers of the movie will note the strong bond that exists between the older versions of Magneto and Charles. Antithetical to the non-violent Xavier, Magneto’s overall aim is to achieve mutant superiority by whatever means necessary. But they are each like two halves of the same circle. When they collaborate, they’re much more powerful. Does your organization have a strong staffer who doesn’t always agree with your firm’s values and methods? Maybe you perceive them as an enemy, when in fact they can be of great worth to you. Can you find new ways to collaborate and leverage their strengths to work on behalf of a client or a cause that will turn into a win-win?

There are many X-Men out there and being able to identify, enlist and nurture great talent is a talent. Having the ability to see it in the most unexpected of places can be a superpower.

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