Thoughts on Effective Leadership From “Professor X”

Organizations can win with modest talent, but talent--even extraordinary talent--cannot excel without a winning organization.

fascinated by the likes of Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, Bill Parcells, Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick, Tony Dungy, etc.—people who know how to build winning organizations of winning people.

I see everything in these terms. Anyone who knows me knows that I love superhero comic books. My favorites are the ones about teams of superheroes working together (Justice League, Avengers, X-Men, Blood Syndicate, etc.), not individual heroes like Superman or Spiderman. In fact, it dawned on me the other day that leading the staff of Black Enterprise magazine (an honor I enjoyed for 13 years) was like leading The Avengers: a team of polished, experienced, exceptionally talented professionals operating as part of a long-established and esteemed tradition of excellence. My new team at BlackEnterprise.com is more like the X-Men: a group of gifted individualists of prodigious potential who are often in conflict with one another, and must be taught how to use their abilities productively and operate as a team. My challenge is to help them see past their differences by getting them focused on a common ideal and vision. (I’ve already identified, in my mind, a Wolverine, a Jean Grey, and a Rogue on my team.) I’ve taken to thinking of Derek Dingle, who succeeded me as editor-in-chief of our magazine in July of 2008, as Captain America, and seeing myself as Professor X.

The point of all this is: I passionately believe that organizations can win without exceptional talent, but talent—even extraordinary talent—cannot win outside of a winning organization. It’s my job to build that organization, to take that talented group of individuals and create and maintain a winning—and yes, heroic—team, one that will consistently do special, amazing, important things. Black Enterprise—the very definition of a winning organization—has always afforded me the opportunity to do this over my two-decades-plus tenure at the company. And that’s exactly what I love.

Alfred Edmond Jr. is the editor-in-chief of BlackEnterprise.com

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