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When he’s not firing me up, my ten old son often stops me cold.
He brought me something the other day…a cape.
“You deserve this, mom,” he said, “you’re my superhero.”
After my heart was done swelling and my eyes quit leaking, I asked him how on earth I could possibly be such an extraordinary thing. He reminded me that many superheroes were normal people who were incredibly great on the inside. He said their internal powers, when noticed and appreciated, become magical.
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I love that kid, and I appreciate his positive mindset.
I have been thinking about his words quite a bit, and I wonder if we can equate them to leadership.
As leaders, are we taking notice of all our employee’s internal powers?
I think we have a tendency to notice what’s on the outside, what is in the public eye, or what is yielding results. I worry that we’ve focused so much on outcomes that we have discounted passion, purpose, potential.
There are employees who are incredibly passionate about the vision and mission of the organization that they often get sidetracked and fail to pay attention to the operational details. These types of employees are incredible ambassadors for their companies and have a razor sharp commitment to inspiring others accordingly. However, focus, productivity and accuracy often escape them and, therefore, they are often considered poor performers.
There are employees who show up every day, keep their heads down and do their jobs consistently and effectively. They don’t have flair, they don’t call attention to their output, and they rarely step up and claim credit for success. They know their purpose and work within it without complaint, without drama, and often without being noticed.
And then there are those diamonds in the rough, those bulls in the china shop, or those timid little mice who, quite possibly, would be amazing
…if only they were a bit more astute.
…if only they toned it down a bit.
…if only they had confidence.
While I’d like to think all employees are fully responsible for their fate and fully responsible for positive and productive work outcomes, my son’s words make me wonder if we need to pay more attention and better enable our employees’ super powers to come out.
Rock stars weren’t born with a platinum record in their crib. Others helped cultivate what they needed to rise to stardom. Perhaps we should do a better job in asking our employees about their objectives in our company and providing the tools they need to succeed accordingly. Maybe we should invest our time in mentoring these employees or identifying others who could provide guidance and counsel so they could be all they could be.
Olympic athletes’ first steps aren’t to the podium. Their talents were identified and developed by a series of coaches, sponsors and others who helped them capitalize on their skills, amplify their unique abilities and minimize barriers that threaten continued improvement and success. Perhaps we should take inventory of our team’s skills and talents and begin utilizing them in more effective ways. Maybe if we did a better job matching talents to activities and pairing interests to outcomes, we’d see a significant increase in productivity and performance.
Superheroes are often just regular folks who had something special on the inside. Perhaps we should slow down a bit, pay attention and begin to take stock in our employees as individuals. Maybe we should ask them about their lives outside of the office, figure out what motivates and inspires them, or learn a bit about how they ended up on our doorstep. Upon doing so, we just may notice they have an abundance of kindness, determination, truthfulness, gumption and courage.
Passion, Purpose and Potential
My son would say those are, indeed, superpowers. He just may be right.