One of my favorite games as a kid was “Battleship.” “It’s a Hit!” still rings in my mind.
In 2012, a movie of the same name came out, loosely based on the board game. In this case, aliens had invaded earth, and in the end the “Mighty Mo” – the battleship Missouri of World War II fame – ended up saving the day.
Modern naval digital technology was ineffective against the invaders. The analog technology of WWII was what eventually turned the tide.
From a leadership perspective, this movie illustrated the value of both tradition and people of different ages and backgrounds uniting and working together to beat the odds.
As leaders, we sometimes limit our input to those who are similar to us. Maybe in age, maybe in organizational level, maybe in subject matter expertise, etc. This is natural. People of similar backgrounds, interests, or professions naturally are drawn to each other.
But, if we are too myopic about who is speaking into our leadership lives, we risk missing out on some potentially very important insights and wisdom.
A well rounded leader seeks counsel from various sources. Today I’ll suggest four different groups of people who can add value and insight to your leadership life.
Older – As in the movie, the older generation of World War II veterans instructed the younger generation on analog technology, which the aliens could not effectively detect.
I advise everyone to have a few older leaders that they can lean in to and gain perspective from. Many times, retired leaders can provide amazing insights and assistance as you navigate through the maze of your leadership responsibilities.
Even if they aren’t retired, older leaders who have been in the trenches and have a number of “battle scars” can shine a bright light on some of your own issues or problems. They can also help you avoid a number of mistakes.
Younger – In my experience, older leaders sometimes dismiss younger leaders. They are skeptical of what insight or advice can be obtained from someone who hasn’t “walked the walk” and “talked the talk” for as long as they have.
This is a mistake. Younger leaders haven’t had the time to become jaded or set in their ways. They often bring a fresh, exciting perspective to situations. Plus, they are generally better at technology and navigating the digital world, which can be invaluable for those who grew up in a different generation.
Marginalized – Corporate life being what it is, sometimes extremely talented people are pushed out of a company or a position or sidelined because they made a mistake at some point that was unforgiven, or they were perceived as incompatible with current leadership. Many times this is politically motivated, or they were pushed out to make someone else look good.
Tapping in to their experiences can help you navigate difficult waters, advise you on mistakes to avoid, and give you discernment and insight on how to thrive in your current role.
Contrarians – OK, almost every office or organization has one. You are probably thinking about someone right now that you’ve worked with past or present. The person that people avoid when walking down the hall. The person that almost ALWAYS has a contrary opinion.
Engage them. A respectful conversation held with the goal of true understanding may uncover a few gold nuggets of knowledge or insight.
These four types of people have enriched my leadership over the years.
Perhaps they can for you, too.