While there is no doubt that superheroes can teach children and adults many valuable lessons, it may be a surprise to see how much they can teach about project management, too.
Project managers and their teams have a lot on their shoulders. They need to get things done quickly, simply and on budget – regardless of the challenges, risks and obstacles that may get in the way. From small projects to large-scale initiatives, these are the people who drive each phase of the project life cycle all the way to completion.
Superheroes meanwhile also have a lot to contend with, not least including the evil forces that they are continuously pitted against. They too are trusted to get things done, and while deadlines might be a bit more literal in the superhero universe than the workplace, if anyone knows about effective project management, it is those who work tirelessly to save the world from certain doom.
What Superheroes Teach Us About Project Management
While it has never been clear on whether any of the crime fighting good guys secretly rely on project management software, we’d like to think that they had everything organised with a few good software tools. Having a reliable system is, after all, one of the most important elements of managing projects properly. Just as important though are the following lessons that can be taken from superheroes:
Thor – the importance of humility
The Norse god of Thunder had to be thrown all the way to Earth and even stripped of his super powers before he showed that he could be humble. Many successful leaders have shown that this is indeed an important lesson for truly effective management. Humility means taking pride without hogging all the glory. Being someone that teams look up to is essential for teamwork – even if you do not possess the ability to induce thunder from the skies.
Spider-Man – with power comes responsibility
In his early years, Peter Parker and his super alter ego Spider-Man both had to learn that power brings responsibility. Much fun as it was to fly through the city with web shooting from his wrists, saving the day was his ultimate duty. The weight of a project’s success is carried by project managers, who need to ensure that everything goes on track… and take responsibility when things go off track. This doesn’t mean being the fall guy for each and any problem, but it does mean having accountability and the ability to shoulder the brunt of the project outcomes.
Green Lantern – creative thinking gets you ahead
Hal Jordan used his ring to bring things out of his imagination and into reality. Being a creative thinker helps you to think in ways that your competition may not be tuned into, which goes a long way in achieving favourable project results. Rather than an innate talent, this type of thinking can be learnt at any stage. Lateral thinking improves teamwork by empowering teams to use their imagination, and it boosts productivity too.
The Thing – maintain your sense of empathy
He may have looked fearsome, but The Thing was always the heart of the Fantastic Four, possessing a great sense of empathy that belied his thick-skin and tough appearance. Dr Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and science expert states that, “Leaders with empathy do more than sympathize with people around them: they use their knowledge to improve their companies in subtle, but important ways.” You don’t have to agree with every single viewpoint or become a people pleaser – you should however consider your team members’ feelings, input and perspective when making decisions.
Professor X – train the very best of the best
The most famous project manager in the superhero world, Professor X, otherwise known as Charles Xavier understood the necessity for training a super team. His X-Men went on to save the world, while also making a major difference in the way that people treated those with mutant abilities. Being able to train a team of super stars is the best way in building a project team that is destined for success.
When strategies, timelines and budgets begin to increase, it’s easy to lose track of the important things that affect project outcomes the most. To get the best results from your project management software, it makes all the difference to remember the inner superhero that lies inside every project management team.