Human Resources

The Modern Workplace Hero

March 23, 2015


When my oldest son turned five last year, the world opened up. He went from playing with cars and trains to a fascination with superheroes. Spiderman and Buzz Lightyear were two early favorites, then came Star Wars and a love for Jedis.

He was drawn to anyone who would save the day. With or without a cape.

Having grown up with many of the same heroes, I’m thrilled with his new passion. But I’ve noticed he doesn’t play with them the same way I did. Batman never saves the day; it’s a team effort. And not in the sidekick sort of way (my apologies to Robin). Rather, the team works in a way that saves the day together.

At first I wanted to jump in and tell him that wasn’t playing the right way. But as I’ve watched him this past year, I think he’s on to something.

We’ve seen employees play the role of the old school hero in the workplace. They go solo to try to pull off a feat that saves the day. You’ll see them take incredible risks, take all the credit when things go well, or put in the most hours. And they want you to make sure you see them do this.

Today’s workplace hero is different. They don’t possess the same qualities as heroes of the past. Rather, they are defined by new super powers.

Heroes build communities

Yes, teamwork and collaboration are important. Even Batman could team up with Superman if he was forced to. Today’s heroes, however, build communities. The hero creates a vision of what he or she believes in, and then pulls in top talent to help achieve it. By knowing the biggest strengths of each member of their community and working together, they achieve the shared vision.

Heroes show humility

Heroes of the past wanted all the glory and a statute in their honor. Today’s heroes say, “I was just doing my job” or points to their team. Despite the power of being a hero, they don’t think of themselves as any better than the next person. And it’s this humility that endears others to be the hero.

Heroes solve problems

All heroes know where the danger lurks, but today they don’t allow emotions to cloud their thinking or impair their judgment. They evaluate the quality of information and emotions to ensure they’re thinking straight. Rather than running through a brick wall, today’s hero will consider the risks as well as alternatives.

Heroes know who they are

Heroes used to be defined by their muscle, their ability to use strength to push through any obstacle regardless of skill or ability. Today, they are defined by their ability to focus on the things they know and then use other resources to help with what they don’t. If you look around Indy, the heroes—especially entrepreneurs—that are winning are utilizing resources in an incredible way.

Admit it. We all want to be the hero. But you can choose how you use your power. As Spiderman learned, with great power comes great responsibility.

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