Have you seen the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ films? If you have, you would probably remember and love Groot. Groot is a sentient tree-like creature with limited language abilities – he can say but three words, “I am Groot”.
Using only three words at first seems like a language limitation, yet it’s all he needs. Groot repeats the words with a different emphasis and meaning each time he speaks. Even though he repeats the same words, those close to him understand what he is saying.
Groot is a great communicator.
I assume you agree that being a great communicator is vital for effective leadership. A leader’s ability to communicate has a lot to do with her sense of self and with ‘how congruent her intentions, words and actions are’.
Think about your leadership, what’s true for you?
· What do you stand for?
· How simple and understandable is your language?
· How congruent are your intentions, your words and your actions?
· How capable are you at communicating your ideas, your needs, your vision and your purpose?
· Are you experienced as being self-serving? or
· Do you authentically hear and respond to your colleagues, employees, clients and stakeholders?
What can Groot teach us about communication? Groot shows us ‘how simple communicating can be’. As a leader you are probably intellectually capable, technically brilliant and have a lot of experience, right? How good are you at leading with clear, empowering communication? I have seen many otherwise brilliant leaders miss their audience because of hubris, anxiety, overuse of fancy words, acronyms, industry speak and my personal ‘turn off’, leadership speak. Leadership communication is an inside out competence.
From an adult psychological developmental perspective, Groot is a confident and self-assured being. He knows who he is. He knows what he stands for. He is present to the moment and acts when required. He is grounded and loyal to his friends. He is powerful and strong without excessive pride. He has high emotional intelligence and communicates clearly and succinctly.
There’s a wonderful scene in ‘Guardians 1’ where their spacecraft explodes and begins to crash, Groot doesn’t hesitate and uses his branches to envelope his friends in a protective enclosure. He does this even though doing so will certainly result in his own death.
“Why are you doing this?!” Rocket, one of his friends cries, confused. “You’ll die, Groot!” Nonetheless, Groot is determined to protect his friends, saying calmly, with assuredness, “We are Groot.”
I was touched to see Groot learn new words in the final moments of his life. The new words “we are…” illustrate his understanding of our inherent unity. He is selfless in his identity and at the same time he identifies his life with that of his companions “We are Groot”. Groot’s generous act gives us a clue to his psychological development, he has transcended ego and acts in service of others.
An experts perspective: For a psychological break down for each of the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ characters see this link from psychology commentator and expert Dr Andrea Letamendi http://comicsalliance.com/guardians-galaxy-psychology-analyisis-trauma/
- Which character do you relate to most?
- What impact does your character have on your leadership?
I aim to be more open and more connected to serve others, just like Groot. “We are Groot”.