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3D Ideas 943: Superheroes

Claire writes: “Wherever did we get the idea that our roles require us to be superheroes? Superhero-ing looks like line managers feeling they need to fix the problems they perceive colleagues bring to them. It looks like coaches feeling like they need to attain changed lives by the end of a series of conversations. Superhero-itis shows up everywhere.

The challenge with the superhero style is that, although it can be seductive, it can skew our power relationship by disempowering our colleagues.  Think about superheroes.  In fiction they are larger than life characters.  In comparison, an ordinary human seems to have a much lower status than a hero.  When we want to develop people, we need to enable them to grow. And for that to happen, they need to believe they can do this. That’s why coaching is a great leadership style. Paul Kasimu, a leader in East African Telecoms giant Safaricom says: “We need a portfolio without power. To feel comfortable leading when it’s not with power and authority – taking a back seat and allowing teams to find solutions for themselves”

Lighten up! Stop trying to be a superhero! It’s not all down to you to fix in the time available for a conversation.  Coach out the unfinished stuff at the end of a conversation: “Do you know where/when  you’re going to keep thinking about that?” is a much more empowering end than “We can’t possibly give credit to this enormous problem  in the short time we have now.. Come back next week”. 

Because when we are working in partnership enough, and when we end a conversation well rather than closing it down, the best learning happens after our conversation is over!”

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