Leadership Lessons from Superheros or Superhereos?
It seems that each summer, tales of superheroes invade our movie screens. This season, big blockbusters like The Amazing Spiderman and The Dark Knight Rises are keeping audiences entertained with their riveting plots and complex special effects.
Most of us can enjoy a good superhero tale, but there’s more to these stories than fighting off evil superheros villains—in fact, there may even be some leadership lessons to be learned after we remove the masks. Especially when it comes to the workplace.
Being a Leader in the Workplace
Although you may not have superpowers, there are a number of ways you can draw upon these heroes for guidance when it comes to directing others. Check out these four leadership lessons learned from superheroes:
1. Nurture your skills through practice. Spiderman didn’t learn how to navigate the world with his unique talents and abilities overnight. In fact, he initially didn’t even know how to use his web—as evidenced in 2002’s Spiderman, when it took the newly-transformed Peter Parker a few tries to attach his web to a building and swing away. Although he fell down a few times in the process of learning his web-slinging techniques, Spiderman knows his talents are nothing if they aren’t fine-tuned and expanded upon. What truly makes a leader is their ability to constantly build upon their skills, and leverage them to adapt and effectively navigate tricky or stressful situations.
2. Find your support system. There are few, if any, good leaders that got to be that way without the help of a sturdy support system—that means friends, family, colleagues, coworkers, or anyone else who inspires and assists you. In the beginning of The Dark Knight, Batman doesn’t want the help of the wannabe Batmans, but he does need the help of Alfred, his trusted butler, and Lucius Fox, his business manager, to keep his secret and assist with technologies he doesn’t understand. Good leadership accepts that sometimes, it’s just not plausible to do it all alone.
3. Learn to handle backlash. Although he was initially a public hero, Spiderman learned about backlash pretty quickly once the tabloids started publishing articles spun with negativity. A good leader quickly learns their actions aren’t always favored by everyone, but handles any criticism or backlash with a levelheaded, respectful approach. When your decision-making affects not only yourself but also others, it’s important to remain confident while also carefully examining—and welcoming—any criticism.
4. Remember, you’re only human. While superheroes aren’t exactly “only human,” they do make a point to keep their human compassion and accept when they make mistakes. In The Dark Knight Rises, Alfred is concerned when he sees bruises all over Bruce Wayne—for a superhero, a true mark of vulnerability. And in Spiderman 2, Peter Parker finds he made a mistake when he chose to give up his superpowers. Being a good leader means being vulnerable and making mistakes at times, but it’s how you choose to bounce back from your low points that matters.
Adopting Leadership Attributes for You & Your Team
While you may not be blessed with super-strength or high tech gadgets, you can still learn to adopt the leadership mentality and attributes of a superhero. And don’t forget the most important element—recognizing needs and stepping up to improve the lives of others.
What are some other tips you’d give to leaders looking to improve their performance? Share your thoughts in a comment below.
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.