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Wonder Woman of the Office

07-25-2017
Terra Vicario

Confession: I don’t like superhero movies, usually.  And I’ve sat through my fair share of them – George Clooney’s Batman, The Avengers, Man of Steel, Captain America Civil War, Ironman.  But there was something different about the most recent superhero movie I watched.  Yeah, that’s right, I’m talking about Wonder Woman – Amazonian princess, demigod superhero, and highest grossing movie of the summer.  And Warner Bros just announced that she’s getting a sequel.  I haven’t been this excited for a movie series since Harry Potter (and that’s saying something).

There were a couple of quotes from Diana (Wonder Woman’s real name, for those who don’t know) and moments throughout the film that really struck me – not just because they were powerful scenes, but also because they’re pretty applicable to real life, and specifically work life.  And hey, I know we’re talking about Wonder Woman here, but guys, a lot of the same advice applies!

Spoiler alert!  If you haven’t seen the movie yet, don’t read on (but, also, get over to the movie theater and go see it!  What are you doing?)

“What one does when faced with the truth is more difficult than you would think.”

The movie opens with this line – Diana reflects on this in the present day before delving into her origin story.  Of course, she is referring to her realization of what mankind is actually capable of and how they function, outside of the bubble of Themyscira, her island of Amazonian women.  On Themyscira, the Amazons constantly practice getting better and prepare for potential war.  But the outside forces of evil had not yet hit, so they don’t know what they are truly capable of until they are confronted with the World War I soldiers who storm the island.  And then the audience sees that the Amazons are, truly, capable of greatness.

So, what is the truth at work?

Well, it’s a couple of things, really, that is universal no matter where you work.  One absolute work truth – to paraphrase another fictional female leader – is that you adapt or you die.  At work, we must constantly strive to learn more and get better at our jobs in order to succeed.  And we know it, too – according to a recent Gallup poll, 59% of millennials, 44% of Gen Xers and 41%  of baby boomers say that opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important considerations for them when applying for a job.

Work truth number two: the world moves more quickly now than ever before, and it’s only getting faster.  We’ve escalated from email to texting to snapchat; throw in some globalization, and we’ve become available 24/7.

And finally, it’s a truth that what you believe about yourself and your self-talk have an incredible impact on your performance at work.  Day to day we work toward our goals and prepare for both the best and the worst case scenarios.  But if we did an honest self SWOT analysis, we need to ask for feedback from those who really matter – our leadership – in order to really understand our own strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth.

“You are stronger than you believe.  You have greater powers than you know.”

This quote actually comes from Antiope, Diana’s aunt and mentor, who pushes her to be the best she can possibly be.  It’s something that women in business definitely need to hear more often than they usually do.  And we don’t just need to hear it – we need to one hundred percent believe it.  According to the American Psychological Association, a whopping 91% of workers say they feel motivated to do their best when they have leadership support.

It’s a little easier to believe when you look at examples of successful female leaders, and the stories of how they got to the top.  Most businesswomen have read or at least heard of the most popular – Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, Lois Frankel’s Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office.  They all talk about the qualities that female leaders need to possess and embrace – among them, the willingness and ability to do what others won’t in order to accomplish great things.  Sound like anyone’s favorite female superhero?

Hint: if you’re unsure, rewatch the scene in which Wonder Woman flat-out tells Steve Trevor that he can stay in the trenches if he wants, but she is going to cross the battlefield and fight.

It doesn’t hurt to have proper mentorship, either.  According to HireVue, 75 percent of millennials want a mentor!  It’s time for leadership to step in.  We all need the Antiope to our Diana.

“I’m willing to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.”

Very close to the last scene I mentioned, Diana passionately throws this quote at Steve because she believes he is not doing enough to help the victims of the war.  Not everyone has superpowers or is secretly a demigod daughter of Zeus (I told you there would be spoilers!).  But I think the lesson here is that everyone can be a good person at work – whether that’s encouraging your employees, helping out a coworker, or going the extra mile.  And for leaders, it means creating a workplace culture and environment that supports your employees and allows them to excel.

Leaders need to be ready to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.  Who is that you might ask?  The new hires.  In 2016, new hires who reported a poor onboarding experience were 8 times more likely to be disengaged in their work and 11 times less likely to recommend their employer as a good place to work after their first three months, according to a recent Glint study.

The Harvard Business Review has also found that workers in the top 1% in terms of productivity add about $5,000 worth of profit each year, while toxic workers cost roughly $12,000.

So leaders here’s your opportunity – to nurture your new hires and employees who maybe can’t fight for themselves, but really want to.

Employee perks are great.  But success in the workplace comes down to what’s inside of each employee – and when each employee’s individual strength comes together to work alongside each other, great things can happen.

I think that we all have a little Wonder Woman inside us.

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