I’m a great fan of the Marvel Comics Super-Heroes. Particularly, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Jessica Jones, and the collection of heroes in the Avengers.
They are, virtually, invincible, which is what makes the super-heroes. But they aren’t always on. They knew they had to take breaks, recovering from whatever their last world saving battle was, strategizing and thinking about the next. I admire their ability to think with the end in mind, not just reacting or responding to the next provocation, but having an end objective. They harness their energy for achieving their overall goal. They conserved their energy, picking and choosing their battles. When you looked at it, they are only in Super-Hero mode for a small part of their time.
Too often, I see people and managers behaving as if they are Super-Heroes, but since they aren’t they lack the wisdom, experience, and effectiveness of these Super-Heroes.
Often, everything becomes a world changing crisis, they are constantly going at 200 mph, moving from one battle to the other. I’m an extreme type A and extremely action oriented, but I get exhausted watching these sales and business super heroes.
And I watch as they exhaust themselves–both physically and mentally. And their effectiveness and impact diminishes. It’s almost like they have encountered their Kryptonite (Yeah, for purists I know Superman was a DC Comics Super Hero, but bear with me.). They don’t get close enough to kill them, but it diminishes their effectiveness.
Super-Heroes in our business lives are often inspirational. As a peer, they give us ideas that we might try for ourselves–perhaps not quite as effectively, but we can up our game.
Super-Heroes as leaders and managers can be inspirational. They create a vision, accompanied by a commitment and energy level that seems unbeatable.
At the same time, it’s hard to work with a Super-Hero. They, sometimes, have expectations that everyone perform as they do. They often end up “alone,” leaving their peers or people behind–when they need their support and collaboration. In the real world, just as in the comic world, Super-Heroes need the support of all the people around them.
They always seem to be going 200 mph and it’s hard to keep up with them. Or they are moving from task to task, idea to idea, constantly and we get lost or confused.
And these Super-Hero sales people and leaders see this, they re-double their efforts, often inadvertently, the create greater distance and more problems. Exactly the opposite of their intent.
Our real world sales people and leaders who try to behave like our comic book heroes can learn a lot from them.
Our comic book heroes:
- Always play the long game, focusing on their long term goals.
- They pick and choose their battles.
- They build support with their non-super-hero colleagues, knowing that even with their super powers, they can’t survive without this broader support.
- They take time to think, reflect, analyze. They recognize that even super-heroes make mistakes. They learn from their experience, applying these lessons to the future.
- They recognize their super-hero personas are exhausting for common people, so they adopt common people personas to connect more effectively with them (Tony Stark was still a little “extreme.”)
- And they took time to rest, they weren’t always on.
And in the words of Tony Stark/Iron Man, “What am I even tripping for? Everything is going to work out perfectly, the way it’s supposed to.”