Are You Developing Your Team's Mutant Powers?

In some organizations its standard practice to “groom” leaders to adapt to corporate norms. We teach future leaders to speak so they can be heard. We encourage rising stars to capture their ideas just right in the perfect Powerpoint template. We teach them when, where, and with whom to share their ideas. I work hard to develop these skills on my team (and in fact am writing about how to “speak to be heard” tomorrow). The corporate world does not have much appetite for “mutant” gifts.

Is there a cost to such conformity? Those with more quirky personalities and styles seldom rise to the top in favor of those who look better in a gray suit. Does all the time spent on fitting in and honing the standard leadership skills, distract us from developing the unique and more edgy gifts that could lead to creative breakthroughs?

Mutants and Leadership?

“If you are using half of your power of concentration to look normal, than you are only half paying attention to everything else you are doing.”
~Magneto (a powerful mutant)

This weekend my son, Sebastian approached me excitedly, “Mom, you’ve got to see this movie. I think it has something to do with leadership.” My mind quickly raced through all the possible movies he could be considering. I was excited to spend that brisk Saturday afternoon snuggled up watching a movie and talking about leadership. And then he revealed his selection.“X-Men: First Class.” I groaned, but settled in. Sometimes you have to meet growing leaders where they are.

It’s not a “must see,” so if you missed it, I’ll save you some time. The world is full of interesting “genetic mutants” with amazing, yet underdeveloped powers (telepathy, teleportation, shape shifting). These mutants work to disguise their mutant powers, working to fit in, to “feel normal.” When under stress, the mutant powers overtake their ability to control them and they come out in awkward in dangerous ways. Until, one day, they find each other and a fellow mutant serves as their mentor helping them to not only to reveal and embrace their gifts, but to refine them.

“Mutant” Gifts

  • What unique gifts are hidden on your team?
  • Do these “mutant” gifts come out in clumsy ways?
  • What if you could help them to refine these special powers?
  • What are we missing by honing the more commonly accepted talents?
  • How much of own developmental energy is spent on “looking normal” versus becoming exceptional?
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Posted in Authenticity & Transparency, Developing Leadership In Children and tagged , , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

10 Comments

  1. Really like this take on people – great way to wake up differently on a Monday morning!
    Inspired by what you wrote, Karin, I’m going to check in on the sense of “call” of my colleagues and try to apply asking the “5 Why’s” about behaviors or expressions of theirs that I don’t understand.

    I’m also willing to look for my own “mutant superpaoewers” and try to enlist my colleagues in discerning them in myself.

    Here’s to a generative and creative day!

    David

  2. Really like this take on people – great way to wake up differently on a Monday morning!
    Inspired by what you wrote, Karin, I’m going to check in on the sense of “call” of my colleagues and try to apply asking the “5 Why’s” about behaviors or expressions of theirs that I don’t understand.

    I’m also willing to look for my own “mutant superpaoewers” and try to enlist my colleagues in discerning them in myself.

    Here’s to a generative and creative day!

    David

    • David, so great to have you join in the conversation. Yes! The 5 whys would be very helpful to get into this. Can’t wait to hear what mutant super powers emerge for you.

  3. Leaders need to be intentional about bringing out the dormant potential of their team players. Having intention is the first step.

  4. First of all….a leader and organization should be flexible with job descriptions. There are of course going to be obvious and nonnegotiable items connected to specific job titles and descriptions. For example, our Director of First Impressions is responsible for answering the phone and staging camp so arrival and check-in are easy and fun. But, she also photography. So, she takes pictures at all of our events. We had a maintenance assistant who had a job description full of groundskeeping task. But he was a humorous writer. So, he created a staff newspaper daily during the summer.

    Second, creepiest blog photo ever….I LOVE IT!!!! Bonus point of interest…I have that calculator, weird.

    • Eric, sounds to me like you should write a post on your blog about job titles. “Director of First Impressions” is great. It’s exciting when we can help people utilize gifts at work that are not part of their day job.

      Watch out, perhaps that calculator is a sign that you, too, are a mutant.

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