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Are You Building A Team Of Oompa-Loompas, Minions Or Gladiators?

02/29/2016 04:56 EST | Updated 03/01/2017 05:12 EST
©Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Are you a Wonka, a Gru or a Pope?

What kind of team are you building and developing? Do you want leaders of tomorrow or simply those who get in line? Do you truly understand your leadership capability and culpability to know how your hiring trends and how your leadership style impacts your team?

To illustrate what I'm talking about, we simply need to look at Willy Wonka, Gru and Olivia Pope and their teams of Oompa-Loompas, minions and gladiators to see how teams are built with leadership trends and leadership styles.

In fact watch any movie or series that has a protagonist character and you will see them lead their team by asking them to lead with them, follow them or get out of the way. Or, perhaps, it's best to be a combination of all the styles to be effective.

Oompa-Loompa (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) team members are all the same style, type and personality. They sing in chorus and deliver the messages the leader wants them to deliver. They are systematic in their approaches with no flexibility for discussion, debate or ideas development. They appear to be happy doing what they do. But are they?

The "Wonka" in this scenario is happy, since no one on his team is stepping out of line, being independent or going against the leader. The rules have been set and are being followed. What the Wonka wants is what the Wonka gets, from his team and those who dare to be in his presence.

Minion (Despicable Me) team members are happiest when the team supports one another. While one member or a few members might take some risks, ultimately it's about what the team can do together. Individuals are sometimes hard to recognize because it's almost always about the team. How do superstars and leaders of tomorrow stand out?

Gru leaders allow their team to be individuals, but expect them to all come together when he calls and needs them for a project. The "all for one and one for all" scenario is clear, and the team is in it together. The "Gru" does have a few favourite minions that you get to know a little better because they are called on the most.

Gladiator (Scandal) team members understand the overall mandate and objectives of the organization and how they fit into the team. They easily come together and leverage the strengths of the individual's contribution but understand that as a team they are at their strongest. They share ideas without fear of speaking up, being misunderstood or being out of turn since their voice matters and is respected.

They also share their expertise with the team and build on opportunities for shared learning and shared understanding. Leadership of the team can shift based on who is the best expert for the current situation or when the 'boss' isn't available. They can, at times, go a bit rogue on the leader and this is, in part, because of the empowerment the leader gives the team. However, the leader respects the team, gives constructive feedback and nurtures the team for their future.

The "Pope" leader has an excellent grasp of the strengths and weaknesses of the team. She leads by example and has no problem giving feedback where feedback is needed, and is sometimes risky. She knows herself -- her strengths, her weaknesses -- and has no problem showing both to her team.

Mutual respect, trust and integrity are guiding principles of the Pope. Yes, she makes mistakes, but she seems to find her way back to her values and her integrity.

No, I'm not suggesting you become Olivia Pope, but there are some very solid leadership skills being demonstrated with the OPA team (apologies to those who don't watch Scandal -- OPA: Olivia Pope and Associates).

So, the next time you're leading, hiring, mentoring or coaching your team, or find yourself as part of a matrixed team, consider this: are you a Wonka, a Gru or a Pope, and what do you want to do now?

Judy Mann is a consultant and advisor with Judy Mann Communications. She offers traditional communications and pr services as well as specialized sessions and workshops on increasing interpersonal communications effectiveness, relationship building, public speaking and presentation style and delivery, for groups and individuals.

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