When my son was ten, he uttered the words that no father, especially one who is an English teacher, wants to hear, “Dad, I just really don’t like reading.”
I was devastated, but I decided that to try a technique that I had picked up in one of the many national ELA conferences that I have attended over the years. My son has always liked superheroes and one in particular, Superman. After a small argument concerning superheroes, we ended up at the local comic book store looking for answers. I am happy to report that my son is currently an avid reader, although it appears as if I am now the one with a serious comic book addiction.
A recent career advancement has forced me to contemplate my approach to leadership.
Just the other day I was reading one of my comics, and I started to think about how leadership is displayed in this visually stunning art form. The beautifully drawn cells of the comic book display muscle bound super humans swooping into sometimes desperate situations and rescuing a person or people in some sort of trouble. This type of narrative makes for some compelling comic books, but I fear that too many leaders adopt the superhero metaphor when determining their leadership role in a new organization.
No one wants to be saved by Superman. Think about it! Everyone wants to don the red cape and be the savior. Too many leaders have the Superman complex and want to constantly arrive quickly on the scene and make quick fixes and save everyone. The problem with this leadership style is that before Superman swoops in he is flying too far above the problem to make an accurate assessment.
The true hero is Clark Kent because, in an effort to protect his anonymity, he sometimes delays the transformation into the blue leotards, and he remains the mild-mannered Clark, who supports those around him. (Clark Kent is Superman’s human alter ego that allows him anonymity in Metropolis.)This approach inspires people to try and identify and solve their own problems. This is the type of empowerment that allows organizations to reach new heights of organizational effectiveness.
One person cannot save an organization; but s/he can truly inspire the team to realize their hidden super-potential.
Yours in Education
Dr. Gregg McGough, CRI Blogger/Podcaster