Leadership Lessons from Jurassic World

JurassicWorldJurassic World: Everything a blockbuster movie should be.  Big actors, lots of action, huge sound, rotten villains, surprising twists and fun. Oh, and did I mention dinosaurs?! But that’s not why I’m writing…
Whether you’re a dinosaur fan or not, we can learn leadership lessons from this movie. How you may ask? Here’s an example:

      The movie caught my attention immediately by using the classic musical score from the original movie.  As a fan of Jurassic Park I smiled and whispered ‘nice’. Throughout the movie, there were several call backs to the original. This reminds leaders that to build the future we must respect the past.

In leadership today, it seems that we often don’t honor the ‘giants’ whose shoulders we stand on.  Honoring the past helps us avoid arrogance.  I attended a conference I Dallas, where Steven Furtick, pastor of the Fastest-growing church in the US made this point beautifully.  Steve said to Ed Young (pastor of Fellowship Church) and Tommy Barnett  (pastor of First Assembly Phoenix) “I should go farther than you because I stand on what you’ve done. Thank you for what you’ve done for me.”

Humility mixed with a desire to do greater. Brilliant.

Jurassic World respected Jurassic Park and the foundation built by the franchise. Now let’s see what other leadership lessons we may glean from this blockbuster.

Here are some direct quotes from Jurassic World and the leadership lessons we can learn from them:

      “Beware treating the awesome as ordinary.” – One of characters, Claire, said, “No one’s impressed by a dinosaur anymore. Consumers want them louder, bigger, more teeth.”  Remember the wonder of one life changed, of hearing God’s voice, of the privilege of leading others. Not everyone has those experiences.  Don’t ‘play marbles with diamonds.” Get just as excited about the 100th person as you did the first.

      “We have to get people’s attention.” – Claire also stated, “Every time we unveil a new asset, attendance spikes.”  To attract new people to church, we have to surprise them.  It can be as simple as telling them they don’t have to dress up.  Several surveys of unchurched people stated that the biggest objection to going to church was ‘nothing to wear.’  We launched a “These are my church clothes” mailing campaign for Easter.

These-are-my-church-clothes

The ad featured a ‘come as you are’ feel.  The results were our largest attendance ever.  We caught their attention with something different than they expected and leveraged that into overcoming an objection we knew they had. Marketing 101.

      Leaders Should Be Humble – “Jurassic World exists to remind us how very small we are.” – CEO character Simon Masrani. When leading His church, we must always remember that God plan is so much greater than our little piece, and His Kingdom is so much larger than our individual church.  Reminding ourselves that He is in charge, not us, can help avoid disasters.

      Remain teachable – Trust the experts, not the crowd.  Another character, Owen, was a behavioral specialist and had trained velociraptor since they were born, but people refused to listen to his insights on their behavior.  Some of the most scandalous leadership fails could have been avoided completely by simply listening to others.  We all need those “emperor has no clothes on[1]” moments.

      Consider the Perspective of Others – When confronted about creating a ‘monster’ hybrid dinosaur in the film, scientist Dr. Henry Wu responded, “Monster is a relative term.  To a canary, a cat is a monster.  We’re just used to being the cat.”  A good leader should always consider the perspectives of those without decision-making power.  In churches leaders are often surrounded by other ‘core church people’ who think like them.  A ‘groupthink’ results and other perspectives are not considered.  For example: if you want to know why some people don’t attend church, you have to talk to some non-church people.

I could keep going, but you get my point.  Get the DVD/Blue-Ray of Jurassic World and watch it again looking for leadership principles.

Share your thoughts in the comment section below and enjoy the movie.

 

Coming Next Week: What does the Bible say about dinosaurs? Were they real or made up by scientists with vivid imaginations to prove evolution?

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[1] The Emperor’s New Suit by Hans Christian Andersen, http://hca.gilead.org.il/emperor.html
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4 Things Avengers 2: Age of Ultron Taught Me About Effective Teamwork

Avengers Age of Ultron, A Lesson In Teamwork

Avengers Age of Ultron, A Lesson In Teamwork

I just saw Avengers: Age of Ultron (View the Trailer HERE.) for a second time! When watching this film, as multiplied millions have, one can’t help but notice the effective teamwork.  The reason the Avengers exist is to “fight the foes no single super hero can withstand.”

As a comic book geek I know that an ever-changing team roster becomes a theme in the comic book Avengers but teamwork was always emphasized.  This comes through in Age of Ultron and is an important lesson for us.

Don’t click away! You don’t have to like comic books or even Marvel movies to read this blog. This film contained some important lessons about effective teamwork.  Here are a few:

1. Effective Teams: Meld Together Diverse Personalities.

The team is made up of wildly different individuals: a billionaire arms manufacturer, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.); a fabled Norse god, Thor (Chris Hemsworth); a raging monster/mad scientist (a modern-day Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde) The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo); a WWII war hero, Captain America (Chris Evans), a cold-war, Russian spy, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson); and expert marksman who was a former thief, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). They are under the authority of a mysterious leader Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) who is the director of a government covert ops organization. Wow, how could they ever get along?

Any team needs people with diverse personalities and skill sets.  The key to being an effective team, is melding those individuals into a unit whose skills compliment each other.

In order to do this, creating a team identity is paramount. When a sports team for example shouts “Wildcats!” as they break their pre game huddle, they’re reminding themselves that they win or lose as a team. The effective team player may pass on personal glory or accomplishment for the better of the team. Any effective team must learn that we win or lose as a team.  A great player knows it doesn’t matter if I get my points if we lose the game.  An effective team member realizes it isn’t just about me doing my job but about all of us pulling to accomplish our team goals. As the old cliché says, “There’s no I in team.”

Leaders cast vision for the team and create situations where we win together. [Leader read Servant Leadership to learn more.]

2. Have a Clear Chain of Command

Tony Stark (Iron Man) at one point says, “I just pay for everything and design everything, make everyone look cooler.” A  shield agent had called Tony ‘boss’. Tony points to Captain America saying “He’s the Boss.”  While there is resentment in his voice there is something more important for effective teamwork, CLARITY.

There is no doubt about who has final decision.  I believe in the synergy or group input and discussion but in the heat of battle, someone has to make the final call. Have a clear team leader and give then the authority to make decisions.

Side note: That leader must have humility as a dominant character trait or the team will become discouraged.  A good leader shares the credit for success and motivates their team to work harder.

3. Give the Team the Information They Need to Succeed 

Tony Stark (Iron Man) is trying to create an artificial intelligence that will protect the world from alien attacks.  He accidentally creates Ultron who decides after some brief contemplation, that the Avengers (and humanity) are the problem with the earth. “I know you’re good people. I know you mean well. But you just didn’t think it through. There is only one path to peace… your extinction.”  Ultron becomes the Avengers greatest foe.

(Geek note: In the comics Henry Pym aka, Ant Man creates Ultron.)

Here’s where it all went wrong.  Tony Stark decides to work on the ‘Ultron project’ with Dr Bruce Banner but decides not to tell the rest of the team.  He didn’t want to hear their objections to this dangerous project.

An effective team communicates with each other to avoid their projects and activities hindering or harming the other team members!  Over communicate.

4. Take Time to Celebrate the Cool Things and Have Fun

As Tony Stark is searching the Hydra base (a terrorist organization) he mutters, “Please be a secret door. Please be a secret door.” and yells, “YES!” when the wall moves and he discovers one. This billionaire inventor gets excited about a secret passage hidden in an old stone wall.

We begin every meeting with “What went well this week.”  We take time to celebrate the good things, the fun stories, the lives being impacted and the successful executions.  Celebrating team success is an important key to being an effective team for the long-term.

I sincerely hope 4 fun facts about being an effective team taken from the Avengers: Age of Ultron will help your team become a super team!

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Read the first two installments in the Avengers inspired blogs: 5 Marvel Marketing Tips, and 5 Leadership Lessons from Avengers 2: Age of Ultron

5 Leadership Lessons from Avengers 2: Age of Ultron

Avengers-Age-of-Ultron

I went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron (View the Trailer HERE.) Friday at the IMAX in 3D.  Wow, I was instantly 12 again.  I haven’t enjoyed a movie this much since the first Avengers. It was so well-written, a modern-day twist on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

As I viewed this special effect wonder, it occurred to me how many great one-liners were in this picture.  However, you don’t have to like Marvel movies to read this blog. Most interesting about this film was it contained some great truths about leadership and life.  Here they are:

1. “You never have to recover from a good start.” In the opening scene the Avengers are attacking the Hydra base and this line was uttered touted the importance of beginning well.

Church planters have learned that successful church plants start well.  If a church can ‘launch’ big and start with a healthy culture (see Nelson Searcy’s book Launch) they are far more likely to exist 5 years down the road.  A general leadership principle is proper planning saves pain during implementation.

[also read Someday Syndrome to avoid procrastination]

2. “Teams are only as strong as their weakest link.” – During the battle with Hydra, the evil Baron ordered, “target the weak ones.”  His strategy to distract the others. They shot Hawkeye, the super-accurate archer who has no super strength or other power.  The others stopped to care for their fallen comrade and to evacuate him.

Any organization can come to a grinding halt when there is a weak staff member, leader, or team member. I experienced this when we had a staff member who was mistreating people and needed constant monitoring.  This led to many meetings, hours of discussion, and increased stress. The result was our church didn’t grow for the first time in years.

Plan ahead, put more time into your hiring and promotion processes to make sure you have the right team members. Don’t settle for people who have talent but character flaws, they’ll distract the whole team.

3. “Everyone creates the thing they dread.”  Ultron quoted this as he mused about people attempting to avoid destruction by make greater weapons of destruction.

We must be fearless when leading.  If we fear failure, we will surely fail.  For example the more I’ve tried not to offend people the more people seem to be offended. When I simply lead, explaining the vision, there are actually less roadblocks from people.

4. “I tried to create a suit of armour around the world but I created something terrible.” As leaders we must realize that our actions affect others.  We can’t make decisions in a vacuum.  It’s important to take a moment and think worst case scenario. This is hard for me as a positive, glass is overflowing kind of guy, but we must remember the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  In our haste to help others we may actually hurt them.  Ultron told Stark, “I know you meant well but you didn’t think it through.”

[Ever felt this way? Read this devotional on regrets.]

5. “Sometimes exactly what I want to hear is exactly what I don’t want to hear.” Bruce Banner (Hulk’s mild-mannered, scientist side) said this quote.  It is a great contrast to prideful attitude of Tony Stark (Iron Man) who isolated from his friends when creating Ultron.  Stark didn’t want to hear the ‘what ifs’  from the ‘caution crowd’.  His lack of accountability lead to creating a monster. The Bible says in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

Have people on your team that will tell you what you don’t want to hear.  I don’t mean negative people who stop progress but honest people who aren’t impressed by you. People who ask the question, “Have you considered this?”  We all need those people.

BONUS QUOTE: “I just pay for everything and design everything, make everyone look cooler.” Tony Stark (Iron Man) corrected the shield agent who called him ‘boss’ pointing to Captain America. “He’s the Boss.”

The person who is the leader isn’t always the most talented or even the most valuable. Every person on the team has a critical function. The caution is, team members must be willing to follow the leader and their vision, even if their pride says, “I’m more talented (or smarter, harder working, etc.) than the leader is.”

I sincerely hope these leadership quotes from the Avengers: Age of Ultron will inspire your team to heroic accomplishments!