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.
- 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?