The superhero power you didn't know you had

The weird thing about being a leader is that you probably don’t really see yourself as one. Most likely, you spend at least some of your time doubting yourself, telling yourself you’re not enough and giving far too much credence to your inner critical dialogue, along with the ever-present concern of being “found out”. And with all that going on, you can’t possibly be considered a leader, can you?

You’ve grown up with your familiar thought patterns, and your experience of yourself may not have changed that much over the years, so you don’t see that there’s anything special about you. And that’s a problem. Because understanding, harnessing and channelling the inherent power that you have as a leader, whatever your view of yourself, is critical to your success. Regardless of what’s going on in your head, there is something special about you, and at the very least that’s your job title and the perception that surrounds it.

One of the hardest things for you to get a true handle on is that you are the only person on the planet who is party to your own inner machinations, and therefore you have a totally unique (and often quite negative) perspective on yourself that is not shared by one single other person. From inside your own head, it’s very hard for you to see and experience yourself in the same way that you see and experience other leaders whom you admire. And consequently, you’re often not alive to the immense power you have. Your team members, whose view of you as a leader is uncoloured by whatever nonsense is going on in your head, very much are. And in fact, because the inherent power of your leadership status augments and amplifies everything that you say or do, they experience that power in ways that you might struggle to believe. And they make massive assumptions based on your behaviour that you’ll probably be totally unaware of.

Let’s look at ways, taken from my own direct experience, in which this might manifest itself negatively. Your behaviour: you’re feeling quiet and uncommunicative after a bad night’s sleep and you don’t greet people in the morning. The assumption: something is badly wrong with the business. Your behaviour: you don’t talk to some people you don’t know at the company party because you’re essentially quite shy. The assumption: you’re aloof and inaccessible and you don’t care about the ‘little’ people. I remember even a fellow business owner once saying to me: “If you’re in a really bad mood, it’s better to stay away from the office.” All this may seem a little extreme, but leaders are caught out by this disproportionate impact all the time, and not least because they usually remain completely unaware of it.

So this power, that you may not even know you have, can be dangerous and damaging, particularly when unrecognised and unharnessed. Consider if you will the damage a superhero does when they have just gained their powers and are yet to get them under control (I’m thinking of that scene in ‘Iron Man’ when he puts his suit on for the first time and smashes his house up!).

But there’s a happy flipside here (phew). Because again just like a superhero’s, when suitably recognised, harnessed and channelled, this power can be deployed for huge benefit. Any good stuff you do will in turn be augmented and amplified to a level you might struggle to believe.

Walk in with a beaming smile and say a hearty good morning to everybody - it’s not just a nice thing to do, it will help your team to feel fresh and productive for the whole day. Make a point of acknowledging someone for a job well done and ideally do it publicly - it will have that person following you to the ends of the earth. Have a joke and a laugh with someone in the office kitchen - they’ll still be beaming about it when their mates are complaining to them about their jobs in the pub that night.

The clue is in the title, as they say. You are the leader and people take their lead from you. This is as literal and as universal as you can possibly imagine. And you need to assume that absolutely anything you do will be mirrored and amplified in your organisation.

Be mindful of that power. Celebrate it. And think about what positive impact you could have in your organisation right now by channelling that power for good.


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