By HYMA PILLAY
From the moment I first watched the movie trailer on the big screen, I could not wait to catch X-Men: Days of Future Past. X-Men was one of my favourite cartoons as a child… well, actually it still is. To me, it was always about the action, and all the cool superpowers each mutant possessed.
I always thought of how amazing it would be if I had superpowers because then I could go out and save the world, just like the characters in X-Men did. So when I finally did catch the movie, I was expecting a massive adrenaline rush from all the action scenes.
Instead, I came out feeling a little overwhelmed by the lessons embedded in the movie, especially from the characters of Professor Charles Xavier and Wolverine. There were so many meaningful moments and lessons on leadership to take home from the movie, and I would like to share some of them with you. Warning, spoiler alert!
Failure is not a dead end
“Just because someone stumbles, loses their way, it doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. Sometimes, we all need a little help” – Charles Xavier
In our roles, we are bound to deal with different types of people. Among those under our leadership, there will be those who are achievers, who are brilliant at what they do. These are the people who make things very easy for us. They are fast learners, and get everything done efficiently.
On the other hand, there will be those who are a little slow, who seem like they can’t get things done right, those who can’t produce work matching up to the standards of the organisation. What can we do with this group?
It is always easier to push them aside, terminate them, or get them replaced. Sometimes, all they need is a little help, a little push for them to see their potential. Failure is not final. We have the privilege to offer people second chances, and help them up when they fall, instead of giving up on them.
Every decision has an impact
“Countless choices define our fate… Enough ripples and you change the tide. For the future is never set.” – Charles Xavier
We are faced with many decisions to be made on a daily basis. We must acknowledge that all our decisions, whether big or small, have some form of impact, and that we are responsible for the impact. The choices we make today can determine a lot of things in the distant future for our career path, our team, or even our organisation.
When you look for the good in people, you bring out the best in them.
“You showed me what I could be.” – Wolverine
Leaders play a key role in unlocking the potential in their people, especially those who are unaware of what they have. A leader’s role is to have a vision and to believe in their people in order to bring out the best in them, even when they are unaware of their own potential.
Even leaders need help sometimes.
“I was a very different man. Lead me, guide me, be patient with me.” – Charles Xavier
As much as it is important for leaders to play the role of a teacher, it is also essential for a leader to be teachable. A good leader is one who is humble enough to learn and accept guidance from others as well.
Know your limitations and weaknesses.
“Patience is not my strongest suit.” – Wolverine
If you ask most people out there to name their top strengths, they would probably be able to name them quite effortlessly. But try asking them to name their top five weaknesses and you might find them struggling.
It is equally beneficial to know your weaknesses as it is to know your own strengths. By understanding your weaknesses, you can either choose to work on them, or choose to leverage your strong points to make up for what you lack.
All you need to do is give your best.
“Your best is enough. Trust me.” – Wolverine
It is easy for us to get carried away wanting to achieve great things and do big things for our organisation or for the people around us. We also get discouraged when we compare ourselves to our colleagues and the work that they do.
Each of us is unique in our own way, and we all bring different things to the table. We may not share the same strengths or skills as others, but the important thing is that we always give our very best in all that we do.
Trust your people
“I’ve been trying to control you since the day we met, and look where that’s got us. I have faith in you.” – Charles Xavier
When we are in the position of heading a team or a project, it is only natural that we want the best possible results. This sometimes causes us to micro-manage our people. When we hover over people as they work, we make them feel inadequate of their work, as they are constantly being monitored.
Once you have delegated and assigned a task, trust them to take charge and let them own the assignment, but assure them that you are available if they have questions, or need guidance.
Don’t waste your strengths
“Use your power. Bring the X-Men together.” – Wolverine
As a team, every one of us has different strengths. Know your strengths and how you can use them to contribute to your team, especially when they are most needed.
From the X-Men movie, I learned that there is a hero in each of us, and we do not need superpowers or special abilities to be impactful and inspiring leaders. Let me end with my favourite quote from this movie.
“The greatest gift we have is to bear their pain without breaking and it comes from your most human part, hope.” – Charles Xavier