Marvel’s
The Avengers (classified under
the name Marvel Avengers Assemble in
the United Kingdom and Ireland), or simply The Avengers, is a 2012 American
superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name,
produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion
Pictures. The film was written and directed by Joss Whedon and features an
ensemble cast that includes Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris
Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg,
Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, and Samuel L. Jackson. In the film, Nick
Fury, director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D., recruits Iron
Man, Captain America, the Hulk, and Thor to form a team that must stop Thor’s
brother Loki from subjugating Earth.

The
reason they’re brought together in “The Avengers” is that the Earth
is under threat by the smirking Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s adopted brother,
who controls the Tesseract, a pulsing cube of energy that opens a gateway to
the universe; through it, he plans to attack Earth with his fleet of
reptile-looking monster-machines. Both Loki and Thor are obscurely related to
the gods of Norse mythology.

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Nick
Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) sends out a call to the Avengers to team up and meet
this threat. He runs SHIELD, the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement
and Logistics Division. He’s headquartered on a gigantic aircraft carrier
that’s also a hovercraft and can become invisible. By bringing the Avengers
together, he reopens ancient rivalries until they learn the benefits of
Teamwork. In the end, they finally manage to save the world through their
efficient Teamwork and coordination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the movie the
Asgardian Loki encounters the leader of an extra-terrestrial race known as the
Chitauri. In exchange for retrieving the Tesseract, a powerful energy source of
unknown potential, he promises Loki an army with which he can subjugate Earth.
Nick Fury, director of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., and his lieutenant Agent
Maria Hill arrive at a remote research facility during an evacuation, where
physicist Dr. Erik Selvig is leading a research team experimenting on the
Tesseract. Agent Phil Coulson explains that the object has begun radiating an
unusual form of energy. The Tesseract suddenly activates and opens a wormhole,
allowing Loki to reach Earth. Loki takes the Tesseract and uses his scepter to
enslave Selvig and a couple of other agents, including Clint Barton, to aid him
in his getaway.

In response to the
attack, Fury reactivates the “Avengers Initiative”. In Stuttgart,
Barton steals iridium needed to stabilize the Tesseract’s power while Loki
causes a distraction, leading to a brief confrontation with Rogers, Stark, and
Romanoff that ends with Loki’s surrender. While Loki is being escorted to
S.H.I.E.L.D., Thor, his adoptive brother, arrives and frees him, hoping to
convince him to abandon his plan and return to Asgard. After a confrontation
with Stark and Rogers, Thor agrees to take Loki to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s flying aircraft
carrier, the Helicarrier. Upon arrival, Loki is imprisoned while Banner and
Stark attempt to locate the Tesseract.

This is how all the team members of the Avengers team
come to one place all together. The team here can be referred to as a cross
functional team since the team members come from all most same hierarchical levels
but they are from different work areas like Tony Stark or Iron Man is an big
entrepreneur/innovator, Dr. Bruce Banner or Hulk is an scientist, Thor is the god
of lightning who comes from Asgard, a different world altogether, Captain America
or Steve Rogers is a vintage super soldier, Romanoff, Barton and Nick Fury are
agents from S.H.I.E.L.D. but they have all come together in the movie working
as a team to accomplish one common task to save the world from Loki’s evil
plan.

But there were several challenges that ascended while
turning this group of individuals with superpowers into a team. Since the team
members were all strangers to each other they had trust issues (this was shown in movie when Stark and
Banner didn’t believe on Nick Fury that tesseract was only used as a power
source and they investigated and came to know later that it was used by
S.H.I.E.L.D. to create weapons and this lead to a heated argument between them),
they all had powers and few of them were not used to taking orders from someone
else regarding their work, so no one wanted to be under someone else’s
leadership or do what other says to (this
was shown in movie when Loki was taken as prisoner and Thor attacked the
aircraft and took Loki, Stark didn’t listen to Roger’s suggestion to have a plan
before they attack Thor. Stark just went on his own to fight Thor and get Loki
back in the custody), this incident from movie also shows that there was
lack of coordination and planning between them and there was no one acting as
leader at that time, who was supposed to take a final decision before they take
any action. From this instance it is also clear that during this time all the
team members were not having the same goal, for instance Thor only had in mind
to take Loki back to Asgard as a prisoner whereas Stark and Rogers were aiming
at taking Loki back to S.H.I.E.L.D. This resulted in their clash. It shows that
how important it is for a team to be clear about the main goal of the task and to
have a proper/clear distribution of roles and responsibilities amongst the team
members.

 

But they eventually turned up to be a very effective
team. They also underwent through the various stages of team development as
discussed during our lecture:

·        
Forming: During
this stage the team actually starts to form. In the movie during this stage
Nick Fury first goes to meet Steve Rogers and tells him about the situation
regarding tesseract and Loki and asks him to join the team and be ready for the
task. Also he gives Steve Rogers a file mentioning about other possible team
members. Nick Fury also sends Agent Natasha Romanoff to Calcutta to recruit Dr.
Bruce Banner to trace the Tesseract through its gamma radiation emissions and
explains him that they only need his expertise on gamma radiation emission and
they don’t want his help in the form of Hulk. Agent Coulson visits Tony Stark
to have him review Selvig’s research and gives him the file containing
information about all the expected team members and what they are actually up
against. Rogers and Stark first meet in Berlin where they capture Loki. While
bringing Loki back to S.H.I.E.L.D. they meet Thor where he agrees to take Loki to
S.H.I.E.L.D.’s base but only after a little confrontation. Later they all meet
at S.H.I.E.L.D.’s base where Thor explains everyone what actually Loki’s plan
is and what they are up against. So basically in this stage the team is set up
based on the special skill set of each team member and they are made aware of what
their actual task is. They have discussions on concept and issues that they may
face ahead while executing the task but may also feel a bit suspicious about it.

 As a leader one
should direct the team, and establish clear objectives, both for the team as a
whole and for individual team members during this stage. During this initial
stage of team growth, it is important for the team leader to be very clear
about team goals and provide clear direction regarding the project. The team
leader should ensure that all of the members are involved in determining team
roles and responsibilities and should work with the team to help them establish
how they will work together.

·        
Storming:
During this stage of team development we usually see team members disagreeing
on certain things which often leads to arguments. People start choosing sides
and questioning the inclusion of other team members. In movie too after Thor
describes about the problem they will eventually face later on there are lots
of issues which start arising. Stark first puts a device to get data from
S.H.I.E.L.D.’s database about what they were actually planning to do with
tesseract. Stark and Banner try to explain Rogers that there is something
suspicious about S.H.I.E.L.D. and its work involving tesseract. This shows that
how team members can start questioning the wisdom of those who selected the
project. After knowing about the Stark’s device who was searching S.H.I.E.L.D
database Nick Fury comes to see Stark and Banners but by that time they had
already received the information about the weapons that S.H.I.E.L.D was
preparing using tesseract’s energy. This resulted in argument between all the
team members who started questioning the integrity, skills and inclusion of
others in the team even when they all were agreeing on the real issues of the
threat to the earth’s safety. This is what we often see in actual teams within
organizations when the team members start showing disunity which leads to
increased tension and arguments between the team members.

As a leader during this stage one should establish
processes and structures, build trust and good relationships between team
members, resolve conflicts swiftly if they occur, provide support, especially
to those team members who are less secure, remain positive and firm in the face
of challenges to your leadership, or to the team’s goal. Leader can also explain
the “forming, storming, norming, and performing” idea, so that people
understand why problems are occurring, and so that they see that things will get
better in the future and can coach team members in assertiveness and conflict
resolution skills, where this is necessary.

·        
Norming: After
the storming stage the team enters the norming stage where the team members
start working well together. The team in this stage sometimes fluctuates
between storming and norming and usually a leader comes up during this stage.
In the movie the Avengers become divided, both over how to approach Loki and
the revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. plans to harness the Tesseract to develop
weapons as a deterrent against hostile extra-terrestrials. As the group argues,
Barton and Loki’s other possessed agents attack the Helicarrier, disabling one
of its engines in flight and causing Banner to transform into the Hulk. Stark
and Rogers work to restart the damaged engine, and Thor attempts to stop the
Hulk’s rampage. Romanoff fights Barton, and knocks him unconscious, breaking
Loki’s mind control. Loki escapes after killing Coulson and ejecting Thor from
the airship, while the Hulk falls to the ground after attacking an S.H.I.E.L.D.
fighter jet. But Fury uses Coulson’s death to motivate the Avengers into
working as a team. The team achieves harmony amongst each other and avoids any
further conflict. They all start accepting each other in team which leads to a
sense of cohesion between them. In the same way, the teams within organizations
also initially argue and disagree but with time and due to the steps taken by
the management like training or coaching people to work past their differences
or through motivating team members, like how Fury does it in the movie, the
team starts to avoid conflicts and friendliness increases within the team. Team
members start understanding and respecting each other’s role in the team and
there is a sense of team spirit in team eventually.

As a leader during this stage one can step back and
help team members to take responsibility for progress towards the goal. In this stage, the team leader may not be as involved
in decision making and problem solving since the team members are working
better together and can take on more responsibility in these areas. The team
has greater self-direction and is able to resolve issues and conflict as a
group. On occasion, however, the team leader may step in to move things along
if the team gets stuck. The team leader should always ensure that the team
members are working collaboratively and may begin to function as a coach to the
members of the team.

·        
Performing:
This is the stage where the team starts performing very well and delivering as
expected. The new tasks given to them are accomplished successfully with very
rare chances of falling back into storming. The team becomes self-dependent and
start working with very little external direction. In the movie Loki uses the
Tesseract, in conjunction with a device Selvig built, to open a wormhole above
Stark Tower to the Chitauri fleet in space, launching his invasion. Rogers,
Stark, Romanoff, Barton, and Thor rally in defence of New York City, the
wormhole’s location. Banner arrives and transforms into the Hulk, and together
the Avengers battle the Chitauri while evacuating civilians. The Hulk finds
Loki and beats him into submission. As we can see here and also this applies to
the team in organizations that during this stage the team members have better
understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how those can
contribute to team’s success. Meanwhile in the movie, Fury’s superiors from the
World Security Council attempt to end the invasion by launching a nuclear
missile at Midtown Manhattan. Stark intercepts the missile and takes it through
the wormhole toward the Chitauri fleet. The missile detonates, destroying the
Chitauri mothership and disabling their forces on Earth. Stark’s suit runs out
of power, and he falls back through the wormhole just as Romanoff closes it.
Stark goes into freefall, but the Hulk saves him from crashing into the ground.
We can also see here that team members in this stage get attached to each other
and they are quite able to create their way around problems and work
efficiently. The team is able to take difficult decisions on their own without
any much assistance from the higher management.

 In this stage,
the team leader is not involved in decision making, problem solving or other
such activities involving the day-to-day work of the team. The team members
work effectively as a group and do not need the oversight that is required at
the other stages. The team leader should continue to monitor the progress of
the team and celebrate milestone achievements with the team to continue to
build team camaraderie. The team leader should also serve as the gateway when
decisions need to be reached at a higher level within the organization.

·        
Adjourning:
This stage generally consists of debriefing the improved process. After the
last briefing the team members part away from each other and they have a sense
of achievement for the accomplished task but also due to the attachment
developed during the whole time they spent together working on the tasks there
is also a sense reluctance while saying good bye to one another. In the movie
too after the Avengers stop Loki and the army from outer space called Chitauri,
they all have a sense of triumph but they all go to their own different ways like
Stark going back to working on reconstruction of the Stark tower which was
damaged during the battle, Thor returns with Loki and the Tesseract to Asgard
and Rogers, Romanoff along with Barton stays with S.H.I.E.L.D. Team members who
like routine, or who have developed close working relationships with
colleagues, may find this stage difficult, particularly if their future now
looks uncertain.

The team leader should ensure that there is time for
the team to celebrate the success of the project and capture best practices for
future use. (Or, if it was not a successful project – to evaluate what happened
and capture lessons learned for future projects.) This also provides the team
the opportunity to say good-bye to each other and wish each other luck as they
pursue their next endeavour. It is likely that any group that reached Stage 4:
Performing will keep in touch with each other as they become a very close knit
group and there will be sadness at separating and moving on to other projects
independently.

In the movie while Avengers were fighting with the
enemy Captain America or Steve Rogers was acting as their leader giving
instructions or in other words assigning specific tasks to every team member as
managers in organizations do. He assigned Bolton the task to tackle the enemy
from top, Thor to use his lightning power to close the portal, Hulk to smash
the enemy, Iron Man to keep or stop the enemy from reaching deep in the city
and Romanoff along with him to be on the ground level taking down enemy and
making sure people are safe. We can clearly see here that Rogers acted like a strategist leader who was distributing
task among the team members and who knew the strengths and weaknesses of his
team very well. It was also seen that Rogers was very clear about the short
term goal of killing the enemy but also about the long term goal of closing the
portal and ending the fight once and for all. Once Roger heard from Romanoff
that the portal can be closed, despite of the fact that Iron Man was on the
other side of the portal and closing the portal would mean losing him, after
waiting for a while Rogers orders Romanoff to close the portal making a tough
decision of losing a team member in time of crisis. This shows that he chose to
follow coercive leadership style where
leaders have to take tuff decisions in time of threats and when they are left with
no other option but they do it only as the last resort as did Rogers in the
movie. These instances from movie shows that Rogers was a really good leader
who was always focused on the main goal but he made sure that every team member
is given tasks according to their skill set and when the time came to take a
tough decision he was up and ready for it keeping their main goal or every ones
interest in mind.

In the end there are various indicators of whether a
team is working effectively together as a group. The characteristics of effective
and successful teams include:

·        
Clear
communication among all members

·        
Regular
brainstorming session with all members participating

·        
Consensus among
team members

·        
Problem solving
done by the group

·        
Commitment to the
project and the other team members

·        
Regular team
meetings are effective and inclusive

·        
Timely hand off
from team members to others to ensure the project keeps moving in the right
direction

·        
Positive,
supportive working relationships among all team members.

In order to maintain a team as a high performing one
the team leader needs to be actively involved. The sooner the team leader
addresses issues and helps the team move to a more effective way of working
together, the more likely the project is to end successfully. It is important
to remember that every team, regardless of what the team is working on, follows
the stages of team development. It is the job of the team leader to help see
the team through the various stages of team development and to bring them to
the point where they are working as effectively as possible towards a common
goal.

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