“Let our powers combine! Earth. Fire. Wind. Water. Heart.”
If you’re an 80’s baby then those words should resonate right away but if not, this should catch you up to speed:
Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, is awakened from a long sleep by Hoggish Greedly, who happens to be drilling above her resting chamber. Realizing that the damage is extensive, Gaia sends five magic rings, four with the power to control an element of nature and one controlling the element of Heart, to five chosen youths across the globe: Kwame from Africa, Wheeler from North America, Linka from the Soviet Union (changed to Eastern Europe after the Soviet Union’s collapse), Gi from Asia, and Ma-Ti from South America.
– Taken from Captain Planet and the Planeteers (Wikipedia)
I don’t know about you but I used to love Captain Planet and the Planeteers. Every episode was filled with some challenge that involved a villain, an attack on the environment and the need to combine powers to effectively overcome the challenge. I started out with this blog being about team building but in going back to research (read: viewing YouTube clips at 2am!) it really just hit me that this show was about more than just team building. It was a foreshadowing of the way we would work in Corporate America almost 20 years later!
Here are the three biggest contribution that Captain Planet and the Planeteers have made on Corporate America:
3. High-Skilled, Multi-faceted, Team-based Problem Solving. The Planeteers rarely solve any challenge effectively without first using their powers to combine. You’ll notice in the clip above that the team’s first instinct was to rely on Gi’s “Water” power to help stop the dam but this one dimensional approach did not work and in fact made matters worse. Whenever teams rely on one person or one singular skill to solve a problem, it usually does not get solved. It was only after they combined powers and summoned Captain Planet that the dam was fixed. The best teams are the ones who combine expert insight in various aspects of a challenge or goal.
2. Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace. Five continents are represented in the Planeteer team and in our HR University, we discuss the benefits of having and promoting multicultural teams in the workplace. Twenty years later, we are seeing a greater push for diverse teams in many industries and a rise of Female CEOs (read: Gaia). This is partially possible due to greater access to education, the rise in telecommuting and international virtual collaboration. Also, more companies are realizing the benefits of solving challenges with the input of diverse perspective and female leadership. We are not only more appreciative and inclusive of geographical and cultural diversity, we are more accepting of religious, sexual orientation and gender differences as well.
1. Social Responsibility and Ethics. Who knew that Gen Y would be so socially responsible? While Captain Planet didn’t have a run as long as say Spider-Man or Bugs Bunny, I think is the biggest point. The children who watched the show – self included- when we were in our toddler to teen stages are now going on to do great things to impact our environment like never before. Gen Y takes the Captain Planet approach to leadership, team building and social responsibility by teaming together to solve problems, infusing “heart” and doing so in a way that attempts to leave the world in a better place than we left it.
Leadership Takeaway: When putting together an effective team, do not discount others who have different views and backgrounds. Embrace a diverse team of individuals who excel in different things. Diversity is one of the greatest assets in team building with a purpose.
Human Resources Takeaway: It’s not easy creating a culture of diversity and inclusion but the benefits are undeniable. By recruiting and employing a diverse team, you become an employer of choice for the world’s top talent. Also, continue to teach social responsibility and ethics so that the company is not faced with fines and audits.
Professional Development: Companies are looking for leaders who can appreciate and motivate teams with a diverse set of strengths and cultural experiences. Learn to become one of those leaders by visiting our Career Services page and receive career development coaching from our CEO Joey. V. Price, MS, PHR.