At the park the other day, I saw a young boy wearing a Superman outfit. With red, flowing cape, he strutted from swing to slide, chest held out – and you knew this kid thought he really was Superman.
New employees, when they’re first hired, have the confidence of Superman. “I can do anything!” they reason. And then they find their kryptonite: They’re forced to work in a culture that measures their contributions by degrees of failure. And they are informed that they’re not as good as they think they are.
So Superman hangs up his cape. “Guess I’ll just be average,” they decide.
This post isn’t an appeal for anyone to be a super hero. This is a call for something even greater. And it’s found in the story behind the story above. Maybe you caught it: The real magic wasn’t created by the boy wearing his Superman outfit to the park – the real transformation was generated by the parent who encouraged the behavior.
There she was, sitting, smiling, on a bench off in the shadows. “Go for it, my son. Be a hero. Be your own hero,” she must have been thinking to herself.
And that’s what we need more of: Your company needs super hero makers. Your company needs leaders who will relentlessly, in every interaction, create the space for people to be their own heroes, to be bigger than they realize they can be. (Is there anything more gratifying than watching someone discover the meaning of “I can”?)
If you know someone who’s trying to be a hero, inform them that they’ll always be a party of one. Ask them to be a hero maker – and then watch the transformation happen.