6 Lessons Your IT Team Can Learn From the X-MenPosted: 06/07/2016 | Written By: Sharon Fisher

The set-up: A group of people with almost supernatural powers, which they hope to use only for good. But in addition to fighting the forces of evil—and  it’s not always easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys—members of the team also have to fight self-doubt from a lifetime of feeling that they don’t fit in.

No, we’re not talking about your IT team. We’re talking about the X-Men. But there are more similarities than you might think, and the X-Men have some traits (other than the ability to set things on fire, which is cool) that could prove useful in your job.

They take advantage of the skills of older members of the team: Note that both Professor Xavier  and Magneto are older than the other members of the team, and Wolverine is older still. As the saying goes, youth and skill can always be overcome by old age and treachery.  Your team members may not be able to rejuvenate, but a lifetime (or several lifetimes) of experience can often be useful.

They include women as full partners: Unlike some comic adaptations and superhero movies, where women are little more than sidekicks, the X-Women are as least as powerful as the men, and sometimes more so. Jean Grey’s telekinesis almost destroyed the world, and Rogue’s ability to absorb people’s powers means she can take out just about any other character. And while Storm’s control of the weather isn’t the strongest mutant ability, her management skills have her essentially as second in command after Professor Xavier. How often in the movies do you hear “You stay back at the base where it’s safe while we men go do the fighting”? And when a male character tries this, he usually gets his butt kicked. Literally.

They think outside the box: Plot points often revolve around using a character’s power in an unexpected way rather than brute-forcing a situation directly. For example, in the first X-Men movie, instead of Magneto using his abilities on his mutation-causing machine himself—and possibly dying in the process—he gives Rogue his abilities and has her power the machine instead. The most obvious way to solve a problem isn’t always the best one.

They revel in what makes them different: While, admittedly, growing up with mutant abilities can be traumatizing, especially to a teenager, it’s when the mutants accept those abilities and learn to use them that they become powerful and well-adjusted. Your employees may not be able to read minds, blow things up, or have superhuman strength, but chances are they each have some innate ability that can really add to your team, if their abilities are acknowledged, appreciated, and nurtured. Which leads to . . .

They practice and learn, both physically and mentally: Part of Professor Xavier’s challenge is to encourage his team members to use the abilities they’ve always tried to hide, and he does this both through physical training to get them more familiar with using their abilities, and mental training to make them more comfortable with using them. The X-Men headquarters is a school, and that’s not just a front to explain why there are so many young people there.

They work as a team: Okay, maybe not all the time, especially for the original lone wolf, Wolverine. But even Wolverine learns that, despite his superhuman strength and regeneration ability, he needs help from other members of the team to be successful. Nobody can do everything—and that includes the IT manager—and the skill of delegating and allowing other people to contribute is an important one to learn.

Your next mission? Figure out what you have to do to be more like Professor X. Whether this requires shaving your head is up to you.