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Time To Hang Up The Cape

Just this morning, I heard Anne make the most outrageous statement!

“There is no room for heroes on this runway. When we honor and encourage heroes and heroic efforts, we neglect to build capacity, sustainability, and succession.”

Wow. Anne. I have seen you undertaking heroic efforts all your life! People stand around and wait for you to arrive because “Anne will know what to do.” And you do. You swoop in and save the day.

I have watched you push up your sleeves and rescue an event gone off the rails, work all night to fix things that were not finished or not done correctly by others. You ALWAYS know what to do.

I noticed that Anne’s face had turned red. And her voice was raised above her usual calm as she exclaimed. “Yes. And that is precisely the problem!

“You see, there is a difference between heroism and leadership. And, I have only come to appreciate it recently.

“I have no doubt that you have seen me in my cape … leaping tall buildings at a single bound … calling out my motto, ‘see problem, fix problem!’ And, you will have noticed that I was always alone.

“Heroism is NOT a team sport.

Leaders never do anything alone.

“Leaders create more leaders to ensure that the team, committee, division, organization has a pipeline, capacity to sustain its activities beyond the heroic efforts of one individual. They know that they need backup, someone to step in and lead the troops (or the team) when they are not able to, or when they leave the position.

“According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a hero “… is a mythological, or legendary figure, often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability … a person admired for achievements and noble qualities … the central figure in an event, period, or movement.”

“I know very well that I have been a hero in many of the roles I have played. Instead of leading effectively, I was always offering solutions, always having the right answers, always diving in to save the day when things get tough.

“This approach to leadership often results in micromanagement (which leads to disengagement), low morale, and a lack of accountability. None of which builds a healthy team, committee, division, organization! All of which I have experienced firsthand.

And that is why I have decided to put away my own cape and make the declaration that there is no room for heroes on my runway. I am building collaborative, collegial, supportive, encouraging, and accountable teams along with capacity and a sustainable legacy of leadership.

“As Maya Angelou said, “… when we know better, we do better.” I am not punishing myself; I am working on being a better leader!

“I hope you can learn from my experience and consider putting your cape away too!”

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