How Executive Leaders Can Embody 3 Superpowers of Superheroes
By: Dr. Kevin John
These days, it is common for both executives and hiring managers to include interview questions centered on candidates describing their superpowers. Although this might appear to be a senseless practice at first glance, it does come with considerable value. Superheroes embody several essential qualities for exemplary leadership that existing and aspiring leaders at all levels should consider. Whenever a crisis surfaces or a situation looks bleak, we can always count on a superhero to restore order and save the day. Below, we will explore how executive leaders can mirror certain qualities and powers of superheroes to enhance their effectiveness in and out of their organizations.
Susan Storm Richards, a superhero known as Invisible Woman, possesses the superpower of invisibility. The Invisible Woman exercises her superpower in a targeted fashion by making a portion or all of herself invisible. This aspect of her superpower is invaluable at times when she must be present without drawing any attention to herself. She is skilled at wielding her power of invisibility to manipulate objects and empower others who need to be invisible. Susan also possesses the ability to create individual and multiple invisibility defense shields for protection against potential threats and opposing forces.
Executive leaders can utilize the superpower of Targeted Invisibility to conduct information-gathering activities from the shadows. They can accomplish this by functioning as casual observers without drawing too much attention to an agenda. By assuming the role of a casual observer, executive leaders can take occasional steps outside their typical routine and focus on analyzing their management, team members, systems, and processes. This style of leadership approach can be highly effective in identifying areas for improvement, recognizing successes, and gaining a deeper understanding of how the organization operates.
Here are key ways that executive leaders can achieve success using Targeted Invisibility:
- Objective Workflow Observation – Functioning as an observer empowers you to take an objective standpoint in monitoring your team’s workflow and processes. Objective Workflow Observation involves taking a client’s perspective in watching how tasks are approached and completed. A client’s perspective allows you to identify inefficiencies or bottlenecks internally while recognizing necessary improvements to outcomes for serving clients optimally.
- Non-intrusive Engagement – Positioning yourself occasionally in areas where your team members take breaks or have lunch can be a beneficial strategy. Also, team member appreciation events are ideal environments where leaders can build rapport through casual conversations. Soliciting feedback through casual conversation demonstrates a desire to connect with the person, not just an employee. Connecting deeper through team-building sessions promotes a sense of ownership and belonging among all team members.
- Peak Performance Evaluation – Executive leaders who function as observers must utilize data analysis to evaluate the performance of their teams regularly. Peak Performance Evaluation enables you to identify top individual performers and areas where your team excels by reviewing metrics, identifying trends, and reflecting on historical data. By evaluating for peak performance, you can pinpoint specific aspects of challenges and struggles while strategizing for change proactively. You can enhance your ongoing evaluation efforts by structuring a management approach that provides a solid system for tracking, expectation setting, accountability, and coaching and development.
Barry Allen, aka The Flash, is known primarily for his super speed, allowing him to move faster than anyone else in multiple worlds. The Flash also uses his superpower of Adaptable Decisiveness to save the day as quickly and effortlessly as possible to avert crises. Barry uses his scientific mind to remain open, alert, and able to change directions with agility to avoid obstacles. He prioritizes effectively in high-stakes situations and remains calm and collected regardless of what he sees or cannot see. The Flash also relies on input from his valued team members and delegates at times when his greatest challenges surface.
Some key ways that executive leaders can demonstrate Adaptable Decisiveness include:
- Lightning-Fast Decision-Making – Be known for making quick and informed decisions. Understand the value of seeking input from others. Yet, after listening to different perspectives and weighing the options, make timely decisions based on what you believe is best for your team or organization. Do not hesitate or procrastinate when it comes to making decisions. Refuse to let any fears of making mistakes hold you back.
- Laser-Focused Ownership – Take ownership of your decisions and stand behind them. Remain committed to the journey and focused on the destination in the face of adversity, distractions, and setbacks. When demonstrating Laser-Focused Ownership, don’t shy away from taking responsibility for the positive or negative outcomes of your decision-making. Remain accountable for your actions and be willing to change course or take corrective measures when necessary.
- Contagious Confidence – Exude confidence and inspire trust in your team members. Be clear, decisive, and fearless in your engagement and communication when leading from the forefront of a crisis. Make tough decisions with conviction, and leave no room for second-guessing yourself once you decide.
Harnessing the superpower of Adaptable Decisiveness strengthens executive leaders to adapt quickly to evolving circumstances and high-pressure situations. As a senior-level leader, you must be able to pivot and adjust your strategies, when necessary, particularly during change or uncertainty. Superheroes often must make split-second decisions that can have life-or-death consequences. Executive leaders need decisiveness when their organization’s credibility, profitability, and sustainability are on the line. Adaptable Decisiveness empowers executives to make tough decisions quickly and effectively to stay ahead of the competition and the curve.
Clark Kent, aka Superman, is arguably the most significant superhero of all. Superman has existed for years as a symbol of truth, justice, inspiration, and security. Although Superman possesses numerous superpowers in his arsenal, his superpower of Uncompromised Integrity shines the brightest. Despite circumstances, Superman always sticks to his core mission, vision, and values for the greater good. When placed in situations where cheating the system or bending the rules would give him an advantage, he never chooses to abuse his power or influence.
Executive leaders with Uncompromised Integrity have a strong sense of moral and ethical principles that guide their decision-making and actions.
Key ways executives can activate the superpower of Uncompromised Integrity consist of:
- Reciprocal Respect – Treat your team with the same respect and dignity you expect from them. Value diversity and inclusion and how it creates an environment where everyone feels important and heard. Do not make excuses or blame others for your mistakes, despite the circumstances.
- Trustworthy Empathy – While demonstrating concern for your managers and team, be upfront about your actions, intentions, and beliefs without deception or manipulation. Listen actively and communicate with transparency in seeking to understand and empathize with the needs, concerns, and perspectives of others. Prioritize dependability and reliability in executing your policies and practices to affirm your commitment and dedication.
- Courageous Consistency – Operate consistently by not wavering from your values and principles. Commit to doing what is right amidst adversity, even when your choices are difficult or unpopular. Stand up for your leadership philosophy and take calculated risks for better opportunities. Be willing to experiment with new ideas and alternate pathways while navigating complex challenges.
Successfully embodying these 3 Superpowers of Superheroes might require shifting how you perceive the current scope of your leadership roles and responsibilities. Achieving success using the superpower of Targeted Invisibility might prompt you to step out of your comfort zone to experience your environment and team members differently. Demonstrating the superpower of Adaptable Decisiveness challenges you to confront your flexibility, procrastination, and indecisiveness. Activating the superpower of Uncompromised Integrity moves you to reexamine your worldview regarding your environment, relationships, and situations. Incorporating these superpowers is an excellent method of building a solid foundation for individual and collective accountability, transformation, and stability.