You’re probably not Batman…and that’s OK

This was probably the sort of thing I was doing when I was much older than this kid. “Batman” by Anna Kuncewicz, Poland

This was probably the sort of thing I was doing when I was much older than this kid. “Batman” by Anna Kuncewicz, Poland

Last time I spoke about leadership lessons from Kindergarten. This post is related – it’s about a hero that I have admired since childhood, Batman.

As a general rule, I’m not all that keen on superheroes. A lot of the new stuff is lost on me. That is, except for Batman. He’s my guy. Despite my best efforts, including reading this book (as an adult!) on how to become Batman, I have failed. I have come to terms with that and realise that I’m still OK despite being not being a superhero. Unfortunately, it took me until adulthood to get there!

For too many of us, we equate leadership with heroic behaviour and we put it up on a distant pedestal. We believe the myths that we have formed in our mind over time and think that leaders are born, they are the elite, they are the chosen ones. I’d like to encourage you to reconsider that for your sake and others. I believe that the sooner we get there as leaders, the better.

In my work with leaders and organisations, it is clear to me that leadership is something that we are all capable of and can all get better at. More often than not effective leadership is the product of small, human interactions rather than grand heroic gestures. Examples that clients have shared with me are buying a colleague a coffee because they were in back to back meetings, listening to (and not just hearing) the struggles of a project, acknowledging a job well done or empathising with someone when they stuffed up.

None of this is particularly grand, but it makes a difference to others. It builds trust, authenticity, connection and plenty of the other leadership buzzwords that you probably hear.

Especially for first time leaders, this is an important message. The difference between the requirements of an individual contributor and a leader are significant and many.

It’s easy to forget that a lot of good leadership is a lot like being a good human.

You’ve probably done that at some point in your life.

Please don’t misunderstand me – being your version of a good human is hard work that requires commitment and consistency over time. We never master being a good human, but as we do it more, we make it more likely that others will do the same. It’s also the way to make a real difference for you and those that you lead.

Much like I (eventually) became comfortable with the fact that I was not Batman and that I’d just have to be me…I hope that you realise that we don’t need heroes as leaders. We need humans.

My questions for you to consider are:

  1. How can you do “more human and less hero” in your leadership?

  2. How can you help others turn up as a better version of themselves?

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