This article was originally published on ComeRecommended.com.
Tony Stark is a leader in many senses of the word. Not only is he a genius, but also he runs Stark Industries (his father’s corporation) and fights crime as Iron Man in his spare time. Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., returns to theaters this week in his fourth film.
Here are eight leadership lessons from Tony Stark:
Choose your mission. Tony Stark is not afraid to fight for what is right. When he realizes he no longer believes in his father’s mission for Stark Industries (weapons manufacturing), he declares a change. He declares to the press that Stark Industries will no longer produce weapons. A good leader picks a mission and stands by it. A great leader has the integrity to find a noble cause and see it through.
Stick by your mission. When Tony Stark sees his company has not been sticking by his promise, he doesn’t just sit by and let it happen. He takes action. He becomes Iron Man. He builds a suit of armor and uses it to end the destruction Stark Industries has caused. Sure, he could ignore it all. He is a billionaire. But Tony Stark believes in his mission and fights to keep it alive. So does a good leader.
Be socially responsible. Tony Stark defines himself as a “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.” During the first Iron Man film, he dedicates his time to ensure weapons produced by Stark Industries are removed from the wrong hands. In Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, he focuses the efforts of his company on sustainable energy and other philanthropic efforts. The best leaders are socially responsible and make sure their organizations are too.
Always improve. Iron Man’s armor has evolved many times since Tony Stark initially invented it. The original Mark I was built with a limited amount of supplies when Stark was held prisoner. On the Mark II, Stark improves the suit’s flight capabilities and adds more features. The problem with Mark II is it freezes when Iron Man flies too high, so Mark III fixes the this problem by changing the material. In the upcoming film, the Mark XLII can be summoned remotely. Like Stark, a good leader is never satisfied. There are always new ways to be better and more efficient.
Isolate yourself occasionally. A good leader sets time aside to be innovated. In the first Iron Man, Tony Stark locks himself in his workshop to develop his armor. In the second film, it is only when he isolates himself that he uncovers the new element for his arc reactor. Taking a cue from Stark, a good leader takes time out to develop new ideas for the benefit of the group.
Have a good team. While time alone is important, Stark is nothing without his team. He relies on Pepper Potts for her honesty and loyalty. In The Avengers, he works with an entire team to protect New York City from the villain. Leadership requires the ability to establish and rely on a strong team, like Stark’s.
Be transparent. “I am Iron Man,” Tony Stark announces at the end of the first film. He is straightforward with the public, which establishes trust — just like earlier in the film when Stark sits down at his press conference and talks about his beliefs about the future of Stark Industries. Good leaders are honest about their intentions and their methods. People trust a transparent leader.
Enjoy yourself. One thing that makes Tony Stark a likable leader is his demeanor. Between the puns and the laughs, you can tell he loves what he does. It doesn’t matter if Stark is at a party, or in a dangerous environment as Iron Man, Tony knows how to have fun. Leadership requires the ability to keep things light. For both stressful situations and everyday tasks, it is important for a leader to enjoy the job.
What other leadership lessons can we learn from Tony Stark?