What Teams Can Learn from Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy took most of the world by surprise, racking up a record-setting box office for August and soaring toward the top of imdb's list of the Top 250 movies ever.

Now that it's part of the cultural landscape of our times, let's see what teams can learn from the Guardians. Oh, and you can expect spoilers—so watch the movie first.


Lesson 1: Everyone has a backstory. Respect it.

One of the strengths of Guardians is that it cares about its characters' backstories. Peter Quill lost his mother to cancer. Gamora is adopted, and has lived in silent tension with her father most of her life. Drax's family was destroyed, and the culprit was never put behind bars. Rocket has undergone multiple painful surgeries. 

As for Groot, perhaps the most unusual superhero character ever . . . we never find out his backstory, not entirely anyway. But we sense it in some of the more unexpected moments of the film when he clearly demonstrates a heart much larger than his vocabulary.

It's the same for any team and any team member. As Plato, Philo, or someone amazing said, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."


Disney / Marvel

Disney / Marvel

Lesson 2: It helps to have a shared goal.

Guardians' characters are so radically different that it's surprising they become a team at all. 

At first, it's to save their own skin, but—eventually—they all work toward the same goal. They're trying to stop a planet (and an entire race of people) from being wiped out. 

OK, granted, that's a massive goal. 

Yet, even in the world of Guardians, this motley crew is the only team doing something about it. And, because they share this goal, it sometimes trumps what they'd rather do on their own.

If that kind of focused unity could help save a planet, imagine what it might do for the far more attainable goals shared by us non-superheroes.


Lesson 3: We're all a little weird. And that's awesome.

This team has some real oddballs, including the one (seeming) human, who's a bit of a prick sometimes. But somehow, every character comes to terms with every other bizarro character.

That simple fact is what makes Guardians funny instead of just, well . . . weird.

It's a strange idea, but what if we just embraced the fact that everyone we work with is going to be weird in their own special ways? What if we even decided to enjoy that weirdness instead of dreading it? 


Disney / Marvel

Disney / Marvel

Lesson 4: Real teammates un-strand each other.

As you'd expect with a superhero movie, there are moments when a character is stranded, facing down their last few seconds of life, and the team screeches in to save the day.

The last-minute rescue has become so common in superhero movies, we've come to expect it.

But it's the exact opposite of common for teams in real life. How many of us have great stories of our teammates who saved our bacon? (I sure hope you do, by the way.)

Yet we all get stranded, right?

So why not use our imagination, put ourselves in our teammates' shoes, and un-strand them every now and then?


Lesson 5: Great teams invent their own way.

At one point in the movie, Peter Quill tells Rocket, "What's a raccoon? It's what you are, stupid." 

Rocket responds, "Ain't no thing like me, 'cept me."

And that's the spirit of this whole team. They know they're unique. They know their goal is unique. And, along the way, they make up a unique approach that works for them.

In my experience, the best teams do this. They identify their uniqueness, and then they create an ecosystem that helps them harness it.


What do you love best about the Guardians as a team?