Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Leadership Lessons I Learned from "Jurassic World" (With Apologies to Alissa Wilkinson)

I am luke-warm when it comes to my opinion of Jurassic World, the recent and 4th installment of the Jurassic Park franchise. I had issues with when I went to see it, issues that were validated when I saw it.  This, however, is not a review of Jurassic World. Alissa Wilkinson gave a great review of the film.  [You should is hysterical.] That being said, there are a few lessons that I learned related to leadership from the film, lessons that I offer here:

1.  Don't Lead Out of Your Experience-Level

One of the big problems with the JP storyline is that humanity is re-creating dinosaurs simply because they can. As we see in each of the films, an idealist (or greedy accountant) thinks they can control these wild, confused creatures. Then reality sets in through some form of catastrophe that eventually leads to a larger catastrophe. Let's be honest...humanity has no experience when it comes to creating, controlling or corralling dinosaurs!

Yes leaders need to push themselves to grow and develop in their craft. Yet, in order to not bring the organization down in a flaming disaster, we must lead out of our limits. There are areas of leadership that I am just not good at. I need to be mature enough to delegate or collaborate with another leader to make sure the vision stays on track. There are times for jumping off the deep-end and launching out in faith. Yet, when we do that, we are actually trusting that God will guide us. From a day-to-day basis, however, we must lead out of our experience rather than trying to convince everyone that we know how to corral man-earing dinosaurs.

2.  High Heels Don't Work in the Jungle!

Now, don't get me wrong: Bryce Dallas Howard is an excellent actress (Lady in the Water and Twilight aside...we all make mistakes). Even when playing Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man 3, she has always come across as an articulate and intelligent woman. Her pedigree is solid. However...wearing high heels in the jungle or running through corridors from a dinosaur? Uh, no. That's just silly.

A scientist wearing sneakers or boots walking through the jungle is useful; a scientist wearing high heels walking through the jungle is a liability. When facing conflicts or challenges, leaders have a limited number of tools available, and we must use the ones that will be serve the situation. That also means that we may have to "go barefoot" because what we have with won't work. 

3.  Choose Your Team Wisely

The "alpha male" concept is huge in Hollywood. It's huge in self-help psychology. And it's huge in some streams of evangelical Christianity. However, an "alpha male" as a velociraptor trainer? Uh-huh. Let me know how that works out for you. As we see in the film, the only reason why the velociraptors allow Owen (Christ Pratt) to dominate them is so that they can gang up on Owen and the other humans and eat them (BTW, just like they did in Jurassic Park). Additionally, N-Gen are the bad guys in the JP universe. So why do these guys keep working with them?

What this means for leaders is that we must be careful in picking our teams and careful is whose support we draw from. Often leaders, especially when they are new to a organization, will fall prey to the "velociraptors" present -- those who got the last leader ousted, those who are looking to advance themselves through your failures or those who are jaded because you got the position they wanted. Additionally, we need to be confident enough in our own personality, training and experience to be courageous enough to lead. There is a place for trusting enemies, however we must always do so cautiously. Personally, I have been burned by those that I disagreed with because I thought they supported my vision only to be caught in a crossfire when their true motives came out.

I hope this list is helpful. Got another idea that you want to share? Leave me comment below or send me an email.

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