5 Career Lessons from Captain America: Civil War

  1. “Compromise where you can. And where you can’t, don’t”.

At work, you’ll often find that you need to compromise. Balancing your needs with those of your co-workers and clients is key to professional success – you have to champion your own ideas and requirements, but respect other people’s and know where to give ground.

However, as Agent Carter teaches us, you shouldn’t compromise your values or integrity. If you’re asked to do something at work that you fundamentally cannot countenance, or that asks you to cross an ethical line, you should refuse and, if necessary, walk away.

It’s hard to stick to your guns when there’s pressure on you to do otherwise – especially if you’re an intern or in a very junior position – but ultimately it’s the best choice to make. If you don’t you’ll lose respect for yourself and, in the end, other people’s respect for you.

  1. Don’t let personal problems destroy your working relationships

Although the rift in the Avengers team stems from the Sokovia Accord – which would relocate the decision to intervene in a situation to external governing bodies – it’s widened by their individual agendas. Black Panther and Iron Man want to kill Captain America’s best friend because they blame him for their bereavements; Captain America objects. Violently.

Hopefully you won’t have disagreements with co-workers fuelled by the actions of brainwashed super-soldier assassins, but there is a chance that your personal dislike of someone could impact your working relationship. Alternatively, a problem at home could cause you to lash out at someone at work.

If you’re feeling angry, take some time to decompress before making any decisions – if you act purely on the basis of your emotional response, you’re more likely to regret it later.

  1. Make the most of everyone’s strengths

Perhaps you’re great at seeing the bigger picture, and your colleague is a details guy. Perhaps your strengths lie in your creatively. Perhaps you’re just really, really good at archery. Either way, while the best work environments push everyone to learn and grow, they also let you capitalise on your strengths.

When you’re collaborating with people on a project, make sure you get to know everyone’s skills and interests, and make sure they’re being used to their full potential. This will boost your chances of success, and help develop your leadership skills.

  1. Create a strong personal brand 

Say what you like about their taste for spandex, you have to admit that superheroes understand the power of a strong brand. Captain America and Iron Man both have incredibly recognisable symbols and outfits – and values associated with them.

Choosing to carry a shield rather than a weapon defines Steve Rogers as a protector rather than an aggressor (even if, let’s be honest, everyone he hits with it probably dies). He’s also known to be incredibly honest and sincere. Even though his position on the Accords is arguably quite worrying, our trust in him is so ingrained that the audience continues to identify with him.

It might not be the moment to go invest in a cape, but think carefully about the way you project yourself to the world. Everything from your social media profiles to your dress sense can inform those around your professionalism, skills, identity, and ambitions. Make sure your brand is saying what you want it to. 

  1. Take every chance to network

Whether at an industry event, after-work drinks, or a chance meeting with an ant-sized person breaking into your head office, you should make the most of every opportunity you have to foster new relationships. Getting to know people across your company and industry will help you spark connections that could help you land your dream job or bring in business.

And you never know, next time you’re in need of a helping hand, you might just find that you know a guy…