What Wolverine Can Teach Us About Leadership

A Reel Leadership Article

One of my favorite comic book characters growing up was Wolverine. He was a tough, no-holds-barred man who was searching for his past and trying to reconcile who he was.

To this day, his past is still somewhat of a mystery. But today a bit more of his story gets released in the new movie The Wolverine.

This got me thinking about the leadership lessons I learned while reading about his exploits in the Marvel comic book series.

Image by Rob Young

Image by Rob Young

Having been a part of the X-Men, Avengers, Alpha Flight, and other superhero teams, Wolverine has been around the block. He’s fought multiple villains, faced death, and been transformed.

His story is intriguing and we can learn quite a bit from his journey.

There’s more to you than you think: During the Fatal Attractions storyline, we see Wolverine have the adamantium torn off of his skeleton. What happened next shocked many readers. He survived and, surprisingly, still had his claws.

During the comic run, it was thought Wolverine’s claws were a part of the adamantium bonding process. It turns out that his claws had been a part of him all along.

Throughout your leadership you’ll be surprised at what lies within you. You’ve got more power, more knowledge, and more ability than you could ever imagine. Don’t forget this as you lead!

Be willing to stand your ground: Wolverine had to make tough choices in his life. But whenever he did, he was willing to follow his convictions and stand his ground.

As a leader, you’ll have to make unpopular decisions and go in directions others may not agree with. It’s during these times your resolve will be tested.

Will you give in to popular opinion or will you stand your ground?

There’s a time to be Mr. Nice Guy and a time to be the rough guy: In many stories, you see Wolverine as the tough guy. He’s rough and tumble, unwilling to take anyone’s attitude. But that’s not all there is to the character.

He’s also got a softer side. He cares for people, he gives more of himself than he should, and he struggles with issues of his past.

You’ve also got to realize there’s a balance between Mr. Nice Guy and being the rough guy. Leadership will require a mixture of both. Don’t neglect either one.

You don’t have to know it all to lead: One of the great things about Wolverine is the fact he’s not completely whole. He’s missing parts of his memory and doesn’t remember everything he’s done. He’s searching to discover the missing pieces but he doesn’t let this stop him.

There will never be a time when you know it all as a leader. Pieces will be missing and you’ll be unsure of the next step to make. This doesn’t mean you don’t continue along the journey. Not at all.

Instead, step out in the direction you believe you need to go. Face it with confidence. And take responsibility for what happens.

Wolverine’s a strange man to be sure. He’s violent, angry, frustrated, and missing his past. Yet there are things we can learn from him.

Be willing to stand your ground, know there’s more to you than what meets the eye, know there will be times to be nice and times to be rough, and realize you don’t have to know it all to lead.

Question: What leadership lessons have you learned from Wolverine? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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