Thursday, March 31, 2016

Leadership and superheroes

Cannot believe it has been so long since I last wrote. It has been a busy year. During the summer, I processed collections, researched bios, and created some finding aides for the Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at UNCG. An interesting project and in looking at the military careers of WACs and such, it gave me some context concerning Wonder Woman. While much grief and disdain has been given concerning her secretary status for the JSA, this was actually common and considered a bit forward thinking for the time, especially as she also accompanied the men on adventures! The other option for secretary (which was more than just taking notes) would have actually been the Flash or the Atom (one being freshly college graduated and the other with some college courses, but neither established professionally). Johnny Thunder would never have been considered a serious candidate and the others were all established professionally and probably with advanced degrees. The other thing that occurred to me that I've never seen mentioned, Wonder Woman would be considered a spy if her secret identity was ever discovered! She is a foreign national, using an assumed name and rank that is not really hers to infiltrate the US military.

In the Fall, I did an internship with the Carrboro Public Library and obtained a temporary part-time job with the Center for Creative Leadership performing copyright research for program materials. December, I graduated with my MLIS from UNCG. At the start of the year, my temporary part-time job got extended into being a temporary full-time job (ie a full-time contractor position), with me maxing out my hours probably some time in May.

What can comics like Fables and characters like Ash of "The Evil Dead", and Xena and Gabrielle teach you about leadership?

My current job as a contractor at the Center for Creative Leadership has me researching copyrights and trademarks of third party IP in our various lessons, presentations, and documents. Which has me looking up strange things from time to time (did you know the man who brought the duck-rabbit graphic to the English speaking world also helped develop the APA citation style? Or that there was such a thing as dead mice wine?). A recent search brought this website to my attention. Cummings combines reviewing comic books and pop culture with lessons on leadership and management, something that makes up a big part of my life right now.

This would be unusual enough except for another search lead me to this blog discussing heroes of various stripes including Superman (and even looks at the Superman song by the Crash Test Dummies).

Superman not a good role model for charity giving?

Grant, Adam M. Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. New York, NY: Viking, 2013. Print.

Another search lead me to this interesting book on different factors that influence people giving to charity. It talks of a study where people were asked to give attributes for superheroes vs. attributes for Superman and how that influenced subsequent behavior. To be fair, this study would have probably been true if they used almost any specific superhero by name, not just Superman.

Consider an experiment by psychologists Leif Nelson and Michael Norton, who randomly assigned people to list either ten features of a superhero or ten features of Superman. When invited to sign up as community service volunteers, the group that listed superhero features was nearly twice as likely to volunteer as the Superman group. Three months later, Nelson and Norton invited both groups to a meeting to kick off their volunteering. The people who had written about a superhero were four times more likely to show up than the people who had written about Superman. Thinking about a suphero three months earlier supported giving. In comparison, thinking about Superman discouraged giving. Why? 
When people think about the general attributes of superheroes they generate a list of desirable characteristics that they can relate to themselves. In the study, for example, people wrote about how superheroes are helpful and responsible, and they wanted to express these giver values, so they volunteered. But when people think specifically about Superman, what comes to mind is a set of impossible standards, like those popularized in the TV series The Adventures of Superman: "faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound." No one can be that strong or heroic, so why bother trying?

A Look at Murphy Anderson

This one isn't work related. Pretty good article from Yes! Weekly, a local free paper, although the writer commits the all too common sin of trying to show his maturity by being condescending towards superheroes by referring to the underwear on the outside... Don't know how I didn't know Murphy Anderson was from my home town and actually did some of his work from there while moonlighting as a cab driver. Sadly, this is not touted anywhere in town that I know of though cannot avoid references to O'Henry who did not live here when he did his writing.

Ok. Lunch break is over. I'll try not to be so long between my next visit.