The Justice League of the 1960 ‘s and 1970’s was comprised of seven members Aquaman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Each of these superheros brought a unique set of super powers to the team. Aquaman had the lungs of a fish and the speed of a dolphin. Batman was intelligent and had friends in high places such as the city’s police commissioner. The Flash could run extremely fast and had superhuman reflexes. The Green Lantern was capable of using his green light to manipulate and reconfigure time and space to his will. Martian Manhunter and Superman both had phenomenal strength and the ability to take flight like a bird. Finally, Wonder Woman the lone female superhero of this era was capable of bench pressing 15,000 pounds and once she received her bracelets she was capable of lifting a 50,000 pound rock. The Justice League operated as a team. They shared a common mission, vision, and set of core values. The team risked their lives not only for the citizens of this world, but for each other. Many episodes consisted of one or more super heros helping the other superhero out of grave danger. The league (team) relied on each others gifts to pull off the mission. They recognized that it took each person’s contribution to make the team successful. That is not to say that there were not times the team struggled with pride and argued over who was right, this happened a lot. However, each time the mission, vision, and core values of the team defused these incidents and the team refocused in order to rid the world of injustice.
I work in my own version of the the Justice League. Just like the Justice League of the 1960’s the members of my team change over time too. However, what drives us remains the same. We each understand what our purpose is and through consensus, debates, confrontation, successes and failures we all march toward that purpose. In the Justice League 2015 we see two new members, Cyborg and Darkseid, and we see the absence of Martian Manhunter. I argue that over time teams evolve and different gifts are required. In the workplace we often fail to see this. Too many times I have seen where a person or persons who were once productive members of a team become disengaged with the team’s purpose. The team knows this but finds it easier to not confront the issue. The root cause for this team denial 9 times out of 10 is based in fear. A team that is unable to bring up uncomfortable topics and address them head on will suffer from stagnation.
Somewhere in our lives we are taught that upsetting the applecart so to speak is seen as bad manners. We are not taught that healthy debates are the fuel that ignites change. For anyone who has watched the Justice League you know that there was a lot of personality challenges, but one thing the team did well was confront the issue. The reason they did this so well was that none of them were out for personal gain. Their sole purpose was to save lives and they knew they had a better chance of doing this as a team. Many of us may not be wearing costumes, zipping through the air or swimming long distances each day as a part of our roles, but we are impacting lives. No matter what your profession as a leader you impact lives. What you do and say is not confined within the walls of your organization, it is carried out to the community you serve. This message takes many forms, your associates discuss it at the dinner table, the media picks up your message or your wearing your company motto on the back of your shirt. The way you conduct yourself is out there. When Batman went dark we all knew about it. What brought him back, his friends and a renewed sense of purpose. When we have team members that are not moving the team toward our purpose we need to help them realign or help them move on. Perhaps that is what happened to the Martian Manhunter. We all have a lot of superheroes in our midst. They all have their superpowers. Whether it is their intellect, problem solving, emotional IQ, innovation, they all bring something unique to the table. The challenge we have as leaders is to get them all moving in the same direction.