5 Team Lessons from Oz: Who Are You Traveling With?

There is a new Oz in town. The movie, Oz: The Great and Powerful, imagines how Oz got to Oz, long before Miss Dorothy came skipping down the yellow brick road.

There are new characters to meet. Do you have any of these individuals on your team? You’ll probably find bits of these characters in your projects and on your teams, just hopefully not in the extreme. Why?

Because, because, (you know the tune) because, because, because…

Wait…take a moment to reminisce back to the fantastic original, then come on back to this version of Oz.

Let’s have a fun look at Leadership Lessons and Teams in Oz.


The Great and Powerful himself. Ok, so he’s not a new character, but a younger, brasher version than the one we know. Oz’s leadership style is to mis-direct, to confuse and to focus on getting what he wants for himself. He leads with his libido.

Why does he get away with it? Because he also is charming, endearing, performs random good acts, and oh yeah, ultimately does the right thing in the end. But, goodness, haven’t you seen this character before in the workplace? Me, me, me, me, ME! You can’t count on the good acts outweighing the bad judgement. This character has the social maturity of a 4 year old.

Lesson #1: Movies are great, but in real life, don’t trust this character any further than you can throw him. Or begin preparing for the HR complaints.

The Monkey

There had to be a monkey, didn’t there? The flying monkeys from the original are now very toothy baboons. And yes, they are just as unsettling the second time around.

But the bellhop dressed, monkey sidekick of Oz is the opposite of what you might think. He is loyal to an extreme (think “you saved my life now I dedicate my life to you”) and he just wants to be Oz’s friend. Of course Oz is off selfishly pursuing his own goals and doesn’t really pay any attention most of the time.

Lesson #2: If you find someone acting this way your team, idolizing someone who may not deserve it, or helping someone else to the detriment of themselves, say, “Snap out of it!” Yes, they may have helped you in the past, but oaths of allegiance should probably have an expiration date.

The China Doll

Dressed in homage to Dorothy’s blue frock, she is introduced as a sympathetic character who has lost everything – her home and china family? (it’s not really clear). She really, really, really wants to come on the adventure with Oz, as evidenced by pouting her way on to the team. She then proceeds to be scared, has to be carried most of the time, and although she provides some moral encouragement, is not really bringing much to the team. Seriously, who brings a china doll on an adventure when there are witches to confront?

Lesson #3: If you’re inviting someone to be part of your team, but they don’t have the skills you need for the job, rethink your approach immediately.


In this movie, she has a much bigger part than just giving road navigation tips and instruction on the proper use of red footwear. You learn of the younger, certainly more helpful Glinda. She knows a thing or two about how to lead, how to inspire others and get the best effort out of the team.

However, her reputation is initially besmirched by a rival. Oz rushes off (without verification… although she is wearing black at first, the universal signal of the bad character) so he believes (shock and spoiler alert) her to be evil.

Lesson #4: First impressions may be misleading. Especially when provided by the other team.  Use trusted information sources when evaluating potential team members. You might want to get more than one data point before rushing off to your mission.

The Wicked Witch

The OTHER team. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying there is an Wicked Witch in the Land of Oz. But you do get to know the “before” version of the sister witches. And there is a back story provided for the Wicked Witch’s behavior. (Think Shakespeare, “Hell hath no fury…”). Is Oz partially to blame for his own troubles? Refer back to Lesson #1.

Lesson #5: Beware the change of heart (in this case literally). And try not to throw fuel on the fire for the competition.

Did you recognize any of these characters? Be on the lookout and closely evaluate your companions before you take a trip down your own yellow brick road!

Until next time … wishing you business readiness success!

Kirsten Jordan is a Partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @Kirstenkbdb. Sign up to receive her and her colleagues’ blog at Current.

Images courtesy flickr.com