Nick Fury - spy, former head of S.H.I.E.L.D., and leader of one of the most powerful teams in the marvel universe: The Avengers. Despite Fury’s closed communication management style (as Tony Stark puts it, “his secrets have secrets” x), he is an impressive recruiter and motivator.
Let’s look at Fury’s toolbox and see what we can learn:
Fury didn’t wait around for Iron Man to knock on his door, but sought him out as soon as Stark established himself as a major player. Fury recognized potential talent and though he didn’t “hire” Stark immediately, Fury placed Stark in his talent pipeline. When the need for a new employee (or a response team to stop an alien invasion) came up, Fury had someone to call.
Fury also had the wisdom to recognize great talent even when it was working for the competition. Natasha Romanoff was a hard sell as a former KGB assassin, but once Fury earned her loyalty he gained one of his most valuable (and deadly) team members: Black Widow.
Hiring clones of you or clones of your current top player may seem like a good idea (after all, you’re awesome!) but you’ll end up widening the competency gap. Nick Fury didn’t replicate Steve Rogers soldier style leadership when searching for new team members, but sought people who could compliment it. Clint Barton may not be giving the orders, but he excels at creative problem solvings because of his unique perspective (not to mention Hawkeye is a great long-range shot).
Your team members are human and will not always see eye-to-eye. They might be passive aggressive, file a complaint, or fight one another with high-powered super weapons. Part of managing and avoiding conflict comes from fostering a culture of respect and hiring people who are fundamentally decent (personality does matter in hiring and it’s the reason Stark was initially rejected from joining the team).
Fury masterfully calmed conflict by reminding the Avengers of their immediate commonality: stopping a crazy Asgardian. But he also gave the Avengers space to get to know one another and to form strong investments in one another’s success. Give your team room to problem-solve together and to understand each other’s roles - if employees are happy in their team they are more likely to be happy in their work. Maybe they’ll even save the world.
No team is going to perform at their best if they do not care about what they do. Nick Fury did a great job of clearly communicating the stakes to his team members. Maybe your company isn’t responsible for saving lives, but I bet it does serve a great purpose. Want to serve great food? Motivate people to exercise? Help make hiring easier? Your company has a message employees can get behind and your job is make that message a stand-out part of your culture.
Nick Fury motivated employees by giving them a rallying point - the death of Agent Coulson. While I wouldn’t recommend faking another team member’s death, Fury understood that the Avengers needed to be reminded of their core message: saving people.
Nick Fury may not be the model manager, but he knew how to assemble a great team.
Now, are you ready to find your Avengers?
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This post was originally published on the CareerPlug Blog.