“Now is not a time for sadness and despair, but a time for heroes, champions, in great deeds” -anonymous
When we think about heroes–we all have certain images come to mind. It might be an image of Superman, a soldier, a police officer, a doctor, a firefighter—but the definition of a hero is really pretty simple: someone who is known for courage, outstanding achievement, and high moral character.
So, can we all be heroes? Certainly.
The more important question is… do we want to be heroes? I hope so, as we certainly need more.
Individuals learn leadership and then step into reality. We understand vision, talent, strategy, accountability, but now—as leaders— we have to live it. These things are all quite easy while reading a book or studying leadership fortified behind the walls of a classroom, but will we have the courage to do the right thing when faced with difficult decisions?
Knowing something and doing something are not necessarily the same thing.
It seems as if there is a gap between what we know heroic leadership should look like and what we actually do with it.
It is in the reality of the battles that the hero is defined—that is where the hero lives.
Everyday we face fears, anxiety, burnout, difficult relationships with bosses, peers, and subordinates—situations that simply feel like they are taking the life right out of us and hurt everything we feel we are aspiring to. Heroic leadership is a journey. Honestly, we can get to the end and miss it if we are not deliberate. Below are four demands of a heroic leader.
“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. – Ayn Rand
A. Attention & Intention
Heroic Leadership demands our attention and intention. We must have a vision for our leadership, and we have to posses and internalize goals. Goals need to be written down. Studies show we are 80-90% more likely to achieve our goals when they are put on paper.
Another point on goals… remember if everything is important, nothing is important. Too many goals create too much noise. We need structures in our lives, but goals are made for us—by us—we fly them—goals don’t fly us.
“Success and failure. We think of them as opposites, but they’re really not. They’re companions – the hero and the sidekick.” Laurence Shames
B. Positive Emotional Climate
Heroic leadership demands a positive emotional climate. We must encourage risk taking and mistakes. When we make a mistake and fail (and we will), it is important to learn from it and not repeat it. Mistake and errors are simply data points, not trend lines. Always remember that grace is in front of you, not trying to catch up with you.
“Aspire rather to be a hero than merely appear one.” Baltasar Gracian
Heroic leadership is relational. We have to connect with others to realize our identity. Leadership is all about relationships. Heroes nurture their relationships always making friends when we least need them.
“Who is a hero? He who conquers his urges”
Finally, heroic leadership demands extreme self control-control over ourselves. Have you ever known a true hero that could not control their emotions? Think about it. What do we truly have control over? All we can really control is ourselves…don’t worry about the other things. Be THAT HERO!
Finally, ponder this. What do we default to when things go bad? The only way to default to heroic leadership is to live it—heroic leadership lives in our higher brain—not our reactive brain.