With Avengers: Endgame coming out on April 26th, conversations about the Avengers have heated up around the office. The other day, one of my staff asked me “which Avenger are you most like and why?” After thinking for a minute, I responded, “Nick Fury.” Looking at me a little puzzled, he asked: “why?” If I look around my company, I have a very talented partner, director, and management team, all with incredible strengths and limitations … their own superpowers. It, however, is my job as the head of the company, to ensure that they are all focused and pulling together towards the common goal of generating growth through effective and efficient service delivery. OK, so this is not as grand a thing as turning back time or saving the planet, but it still requires the ability to assess the different qualities and characteristics of my team members and use that understanding to move our company’s goals and agenda; much like Nick Fury does with the Avengers. In order to accomplish this, it is my job to identify the various personalities that exist within my management team.
You know the type … the smartest person in the room. A manager with Iron Man traits tends to be proud, and stubborn with a tremendous ego. They have an amazing level of ingenuity and can really change the direction of your company, but they also have a high level of self-worth. They often take on too much responsibility and aren’t always focused on their approach. You may need to be careful, because the ends may sometimes justify the means.
Nick Fury School of Management: Give them the flexibility to explore ideas and concepts, because they can drive innovative ideas for your company, however, be prepared to reign them in and focus them on specific projects. Effectively manage from afar, because they can be a loose cannon that can cost your company (money or staff) if you are not paying attention. An Iron Man needs credit and recognition for a job well done, and will typically demand a high salary, but they’re usually worth it.
Best aligned with: Hawkeye, as Hawkeye types are content living in Iron Man’s shadow and Spiderman, as Spiderman will feed into Iron Man’s ego.
Most likely to clash with: Captain America types as they lack the vision and high-risk tolerance and other Iron Man types … there can usually only be one on a team.
This individual has an old school way of thinking and old school values, such as honor and integrity, and a roll-up-your sleeve and make it happen attitude. They may not be the most innovative of managers, but their reliability and attitude make them a loyal manager. They typically are cautious before they jump, with relatively low-risk tolerance and adversity to change. They tend to have smaller egos, putting team and company above self.
Nick Fury School of Management: Since Captain America types are hard-working and dedicated, you can pretty much wind them up and let them go. While you always need to manage all your team members, they are typically loyal and will tow the company line. They are often averse to change, so you will need to introduce change slowly, and provide high levels of training. They need to understand why the change is necessary and need to buy into it. This could be a slow process. On the bright side, as they have smaller egos and are highly dedicated, they are willing to do projects or work on clients that are more tedious or messier, with less fear of them jumping ship.
Best aligned with: Pretty much anyone except Iron Man types.
Most likely to clash with: Iron Man types as they are not structured enough and are willing to bend the rules to get results.
This individual tends to be more reactive than proactive and can fly off the handle if the stress gets to them. If they can stay calm and focused, they can come up with brilliant ideas and are incredibly effective at troubleshooting problems. On the other hand, in high-stress situations, they can lose focus and just bludgeon their way through the situation, without a significant level of concern about the consequences of their actions.
Nick Fury School of Management: While it can be difficult to deal with the polarity of the personalities of a Hulk type, if you can put them in a lower stress environment, they can be an incredible think tank for your organization. They can get to the root of problems and be a visionary in their approach. You do, however, need to be able to limit the fall-out from their tantrums and even potentially isolate them a little from the rest of your team. Too many outbursts could cost you other key members of your team.
Best aligned with: Black Widow types.
Most likely to clash with: Iron Man types, as Iron Man types are somewhat frenetic and may manipulate people when they need to.
While not a personality trait, Black Widow is the best known female Avenger. The strength of a Black Widow is they can departmentalize their thought process, allowing them to focus on the task at hand. They are very analytical in their thinking and at times can be ruthless in the pursuit of their goals. Even so, they have a compassionate side that they can use to bring order to a situation. This can be helpful when dealing with Hulk type managers. Black Widow managers tend to be loyal to the team.
Nick Fury School of Management: A Black Widow manager can be instrumental in bringing harmony to a group. They tend to get along with all of the other management styles. As Black Widow is the best known female Avenger, she comes to the table with a different thought process. Foster that uniqueness and make it a strength. The last thing you want is for a Black Widow to try to conform. Find ways to connect that difference with the outside world to show a different side of your company.
Best aligned with: Pretty much any member of the team, with the special ability to bring calmness to Hulk type managers.
Most likely to clash with: Principally gets along with all team members.
While a Thor manager exhibits tremendous qualities such as conviction, strength, and extreme loyalty, they can also be a little reckless and vain at times. Thor types can also be idealistic, which can be very helpful in dealing with social responsibility campaigns and environmental issues. They are a great balance to Iron Man types as it is not always about the progress that is made, but it is also important to consider the impact.
Nick Fury School of Management: Thor managers are great at offering a different perspective to a pure capitalistic model. They have compassion towards people and planet (after all Thor is the self-proclaimed protector of the Earth) and will look to incorporate corporate responsibility into your growth plans. While this is an admirable quality, you need to make sure that they continue to maintain balance in their vision. Part of your job will be to keep Thor managers on track, as they can sometimes be derailed with their ideas, but do not dismiss their idealistic way of thinking, in the long run, it will be very beneficial in moving your company forward.
Best aligned with: Black Widow. They both have a compassionate side.
Most likely to clash with: Iron Man, because of the almost God-like ego.
A Hawkeye manager is a little bit of an oxymoron. Hawkeye has never really been a leader but is an essential member of the Avengers. They always have their team member’s backs, and will be behind them to support them, and save them where necessary. They understand risk (Hawkeye is the only married Avenger in the MCU, so he has the most to lose if something were to go wrong) and will assess a plan thoroughly before just jumping in. Hawkeye does not crave the spotlight, but prefers to remain in the shadows, quietly making a difference from afar.
Nick Fury School of Management: While they may not be the prototypical leader, it is great to have several Hawkeye’s on your team. They do not have high egos, they require little maintenance, and they are there to support your superstars. While they try to remain low-key, it’s important to give them the ability to show off their skills. You will be pleasantly surprised by what they can accomplish.
Best aligned with: All members of the team. They are there to support and assist.
Most likely to clash with: Principally gets along with all team members.
A Spiderman manager has the raw tools and talents to be an effective manager, but they are very new, so they are prone to mistakes. They have a tremendous level of energy and excitement but do not quite have the experience, which can make their results and effectiveness erratic.
Nick Fury School of Management: Here’s where your leadership skills need to shine. You need to take Spiderman types under your wing and provide them with the training and skills to be effective leaders. They have the qualities; they just need hone in on their abilities. Understand, they are going to jump out and try to make a name for themselves, which will bring with it a certain number of mistakes. Implement an oversight plan and use these mistakes/shortcomings as teaching moments. Harness the exuberance, it can be infectious.
Best aligned with: Iron Man, the light there is too bright to keep the wide-eyed new kid away.
Most likely to clash with: Captain America, as Spiderman is anything but old school.
Over the years, there have been many more Avengers, each with their own unique qualities. Similarly, over time, you will have different personalities passing through your company. Your job is to harness those individual personalities and super qualities and mold them into a cohesive team focused on making your company an unstoppable force. When you look at your management team you may ask yourself; How can I get them all on the same page, all working together towards a common goal? Nick Fury was able to do it with the Avengers …. You got this!
Kenneth R. Cerini, CPA, CFP, FABFA
Ken is the Managing Partner of Cerini & Associates, LLP and is the executive responsible for the administration of our not-for-profit and educational provider practice groups. In addition to his extensive audit experience, Ken has been directly involved in providing consulting services for nonprofits and educational facilities of all sizes throughout New York State in such areas as cost reporting, financial analysis, Medicaid compliance, government audit representation, rate maximization, board training, budgeting and forecasting, and more.