Everything You Need to Know About Leadership You Can Learn From Supervillains

I don’t think supervillains really get enough credit. Yes, I realize they have picked questionable career paths, but I also see them as polarized characters. On one side, they’re evil incarnate but, on the other side, they actually do demonstrate some good qualities when it comes to business leadership. I’ve spelled out five qualities displayed in both strong leaders and our comic book antagonists.

I know this isn’t a technical writing topic, but I’d neverhteless like to share it as a blog entry on here. 

1. Supervillains Share Their Vision

Apparently 68% of employees don’t understand their company’s vision. Strong leaders can assist in resolving this dilemma by ensuring that they regularly share the company vision with their employees. The foundation for goal setting and action planning comes from a clear vision. Leaders who can articulate their vision – and do so with some regularity –  provide direction and inspiration.

Ultra-Humanite

Time and time again, and most of the time through monologue, supervillains reveal their plot and share their vision. Superheroes don’t share their vision with this same kind of consistency because there’s an unspoken assumption that we already know what forces drive them, most likely because we see them every month in their comic book exploits. Supervillains come and go, only to return again another day, but tend to articulate their vision when they do so.

2. Supervillains Believe in Their Capabilities

Strong leaders establish a level of credibility through confidence and trust. They believe in their vision, goals, core values and, most importantly, they believe in the people who will accomplish them. While somewhat exaggerated, supervillains exemplify this very quality. They’re confident to the point of arrogant and they trust their plots, powers and people to the point of insane tenacity. Nevertheless, one can’t deny that supervillains believe in their capabilities. 

Kang the Conqueror

3. Supervillains Strategize and Plan

Rome wasn’t built overnight and neither can the transformational work that leaders recommend and sponsor. Strategic planning and execution takes time, thoroughness and patience. Granted, leaders have the agility to respond while in a crisis, but good leaders analyze and adapt their plans to new circumstances, turning problems into opportunities.

Moleman

When we look at business leadership through the lens of our comic book archetypes, we see an interesting paradigm between superheroes and supervillains. Superheroes are reactive and operational, while supervillains are proactive and transformational. Superheroes constantly respond to problems when they arise, only to work to fix things back to their prior states. Supervillains, however, sit in their secret lairs – sometimes for years on end – and conceive of ways to change the status quo.  

4. Supervillains Empower Their Employees

Strong leaders not only believe in their capabilties, relying on the core strengths of their team, but they also recognize the individual strengths of each team member. They respect that each person has unique skills and competencies that may provide value to the team. They enable their employees, giving them the tools and information they require to work, and recognize their contributions and how they fit with the bottom line. All of this leads to a highly motivated workforce.

Serpent Society

Just look at Lex Luthor and his Injustice Gang, or Doctor Octopus and his Sinister Six, or Sidewinder and his Serpent Society. The same can be said about these supervillains. These leaders know their lofty plans require a group effort and that a synergy comes from teamwork.

5. Supervillains Develop Human Resources

Strong leaders encourage lifelong learning that continuously builds skills throughout the career of their team members. They embrace mentorship programs, peer collaboration opportunities, individual development and succession planning. Even the most egotistical supervillains understand the importance of professional development and ensure that their staff have short-term opportunities for stretch assignments and long-term opportunities for advancement.

Sinestro

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