What abilities can project managers learn from the X-Men?

x-men-logoThis is the opening weekend of Logan, the last X-Men film featuring Hugh Jackman and Sir Patrick Stewart in their respective roles as Wolverine and Professor Xavier. In honor of their farewell performances which skills might we wish to adopt from the mutants?

We’d want Wolverine’s adamantium-like strength and rapid healing abilities to bounce back from the issues and unexpected challenges which emerge on our projects. And yes, there are times when having the ability to extend razor-sharp metal claws could be helpful in cutting through organizational politics. But Logan brings more than just strength, resilience and tenacity to the table – he also possesses a good sense of humor which is a valuable skill when building our teams or dealing with stakeholders.

Professor Xavier can read minds, control people’s actions and, with the help of Cerebro, identify and locate individuals he is interested in across the world. While there are certainly times when we’d all like to take direct control of decision makers to realize positive outcomes, the ability to identify all relevant stakeholders, understand their position on key issues and subtly guide them might work better in the long run. Professor X also teaches us that we can rise above our limitations – while he remains confined to a wheelchair he never lets that get in his way of leading the X-Men or being a formidable opponent.

Storm is able to fly and can control weather to attack her enemies and there are definitely times when we’d love to be able to escape difficult situations on our projects! But Storm also remains very much in touch with nature which teaches us the importance of incorporating sustainability within the scope of our projects.

Jean Grey has telepathic and telekinetic capabilities. One of the greatest services a project manager can provide to their team members is to remove hurdles from their path to enable them to be as productive as possible. Telekinesis would be a very useful skill to move mountains!

Mystique is able to take on the appearance, mannerisms and speech of anyone she wishes to mimic. While we might all enjoy possessing chameleon-like abilities to take on the guise of a key stakeholder to have decisions made in our favor, what Raven teaches us is the skill of situational leadership. Taking on the right persona based on the context of a given project situation is a superior approach to one size fits all.

A good project manager should reflect capabilities from many of the X-Men so perhaps like Rogue, we should learn to absorb positive abilities from our peers and mentors!

 

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