Throughout time, academics and practitioners have been working to make management principles easier to understand. At the beginning of the last century, 1916, the French engineer Henri Fayol identified five functions of management, which include: planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling. In 1989, Stephen Covey shared the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In 1997 James Womack and Daniel Jones identified five key lean principles the Lean Enterprise Institute is founded on, which include: value, value stream, flow, pull, and perfection. Because organizations are unique and often have unique challenges, we caution ascribing an entire management philosophy to just one theory. However, Thanos and the Avengers may be on to something. If uniting each Infinity Stone generates enough power to destroy, can managers yield these powers to make lasting change in their organizations? Can we apply the functions of each Infinity Stone to the core elements of managers who ensure problems can be solved in a creative, productive manner in a snap? First, what exactly is an Infinity Stone?
If you’re following Marvel’s Avengers, we probably don’t need to define infinity stones. However, if you’re not one of the more than 100 million people who went to see the Marvel superhero epic Avengers: Endgame during the film's worldwide opening, don’t worry – we have a refresher. The Infinity Stones are significant in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. They are really powerful stones that, when united via a gauntlet, can be used to destroy or create people, planets, solar systems. The first appearance of an Infinity Stone dates back to 1972 in Marvel
Premiere #1. The six Infinity Stones are the Mind, Power, Reality, Soul, Space, and Time stones and are described below…
Space Stone (blue)
Allows the user to exist in any location by moving any object anywhere throughout reality, warping or rearranging time and space, or even teleporting themselves and others to alter the distance between objects contrary to the laws of physics.
Soul Stone (orange)
Allows the user to steal, control, manipulate, and alter living and dead souls as a gateway to an ideal universe. At full potential, the Soul Stone grants the user control over all life in the universe.
Reality Stone (red)
Allows the user to fulfill their wishes, even if they need to alter reality to do things that would normally be impossible. At full potential, when backed by the other stones, the Reality Stone allows the user to alter reality on a universal scale.
Time Stone (green)
Allows the user to see into the past and the future; stop, slow down, speed up or reverse the flow of time; change the past and the future; and trap people or entire universes in unending loops of time. At full potential, the stone grants the user total control over the past, present, and future.
Power Stone (purple)
Allows the user to access and manipulate all forms of energy to enhance physical strength and durability; this energy grants the ability to operate at optimum, almost omnipotent, levels. The power stone also enhances the effects of the five other stones.
Mind Stone (yellow)
Allows the user to enhance their mental abilities and access the thoughts and dreams of other beings. The Mind Gem is also the manifestation of the universal subconscious.
Highlighting the unique competencies, or defined capabilities necessary to apply skills and knowledge successfully at work, required by managers sets these leaders up for success by providing transparency around the standards and performance appraisal criteria. Just as Thanos was able to cultivate power by bringing the stones together, having the right set of competencies can empower managers. What are key elements that all managers need? Managers who are courageous, compelling, strategic, efficient, driven, and personable harness the most potential at their fingertips to turn roadblocks into dust.
Courageous (space stone)
Although the space stone allows the user to exist in any location and alter the laws of physics, managerial courage is necessary to face problems quickly and directly to, ultimately, alter bad situations. Although this requires an individual who will stand up rather than shirking responsibility, managers who know how to make tough calls especially in times of crisis can truly move mountains. Look for managers who see conflict as an opportunity, those who encourage direct and tough debate, but also understand the strengths and limitations of people and the organization.
Compelling (soul stone)
Like the soul stone gives the user power to control and manipulate people, organizational savvy alongside ambition can be impactful especially when constraints exist. Knowing how things work and how to get things done can help managers maneuver through complex situations and landmines. Look for managers who can craft and communicate appropriate and positive approaches, command attention, or even pivot tactics when something isn’t working
Strategic (reality stone)
Just as the reality stone enables users to execute things that would normally be impossible, being capable of setting and implementing strategy enables managers to not only understand the business and make complex decisions but they are also empowered to create the new and different. By anticipating future consequences and trends, strategic managers can bring creative ideas to market. Look for managers with strong business acumen and intellectual horsepower as they are required to employ rigorous logic to solve problems and make quality decisions.
Efficient (time stone)
Any manager would like to see into the past and control time like the time stone, but it takes high level operating skills to keep on point and manage processes well enough to get everything done that needs to be completed per scope and on time. Orchestrating multiple activities at once can create the illusion of more time but it requires delegation, organization, and prioritization. Look for managers dedicated to driving value added-activities along with those who can drive responsibility and accountability by establishing clear directions and feedback loops.
Driven (power stone)
Passion and grit, just like the power stone, not only grants users the strength and durability to create and manipulate but they also enhance the effects of the five other stones or managerial competencies. Managers that consistently exceed goals and view challenges as opportunities are necessary to achieve results and to craft a culture of excellence. Look for managers that pursue everything with positive energy and those that are steadfast in the face of setbacks. But remember, drive should be secondary to the other elements as it takes strategy, courage, interpersonal skills, operational efficiency, and savvy to instill a sense of passion in others.
Personable (mind stone)
Similar to how the mind stone grants users heightened mental abilities to access the thoughts and dreams of others, strong interpersonal skills are required to foster approach-ability and understanding in the workplace. By being receptive, flexible, and leading by example, managers are better equipped to relate to and build rapport with their direct reports, which helps them inspire, and motivate others. Look for managers who treat people equitably, ease tension with humor, and settle differences with minimal noise by finding common ground and admitting mistakes.
Managers who are courageous, compelling, strategic, efficient, driven, and personable are truly Titans. Need help selecting or developing Titans, message ThriVinci at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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