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Leading: Balancing the Super Hero with Being Human



Whole Person Leadership: bringing all of who you are to everything you do.

Often leaders “manage themselves,” meaning they break themselves into pieces:

  • The Leader – or super hero – who looks good, gets down to business, is results driven, makes things happen, and lives by the adage: “don’t let them see you sweat”

  • The Person – or human – who shows up in personal spheres with family, friends, and on Facebook

We aren’t big fans of the big split between business and personal, or the work leader and the at home person. We think it is best when leaders are walking and talking models of embracing the fullness and challenges of being the designated super hero, and being human.

Isn’t that really the challenge of a leader?

The Super Hero: taking the lead, confidently setting the course, and inspiring others to follow, and making things happen.

The Human: staying aware of the vulnerability, uncertainty, and fears that are always a part of doing something new and risky.

It’s a tough balancing act.

Am I, as leader, a super hero or simply human?

Well both. So what does it take to stay real, and grounded in the face of people looking to you for so much more than that?

We know you’re probably pretty good the super hero side – that’s often how leadership is defined in North America. So to balance the superhero with the human, we think it takes three key ingredients:

  • Vulnerability

  • Curiosity

  • Courage

Let’s start with vulnerability.

Vulnerability, is defined as, the willingness to expose oneself in the face of danger.

In other words, let them see you sweat, acknowledge that “I don’t know,” or “I made a mistake,” or “I’m sorry.” Risk showing the humanness that comes with stepping into uncharted territory. It will go miles for creating connection and loyalty.

Next, Curiosity

A leader needs to have a strong opinion, confidence, and a vision for where to go. However, a leader increases their success when they are also curious, interested, and actively seek other ideas, a different perspectives, beyond their own experience and expertise.

Alan Alda, once said, “Real listening is a willingness to let the other person change you. When I’m willing to let them change me, something happens between us that’s more interesting than a pair of dueling monologues.”

Finally, Courage

Sure, a leader must be courageous to chart a new course, but we are talking about a different type of courage.

We mean the ability to tolerate the tension inherent in being a super hero, while also being curious and vulnerable, rather than making one right and one wrong.

Tolerating this tension takes courage. It means handling failure, and setbacks, acknowledging, and owning your part in whatever outcome. It means taking a moment to celebrate success, knowing there is still a long road ahead, the human side of leadership.

Becoming a Whole Person Leader

It’s all too easy to rely on one’s super hero powers, and assume that overtime that will be enough. Usually, it’s not.

Leadership involves getting the necessary feedback, and support to continually discover blind spots, and hidden untapped potential.

Finding the right mentor or coach can be great step. We find that our best coaching clients are leaders who also invite us to work with their teams. The combination of seeing the team in action, and participating in establishing the clarity in the business direction, makes it much easier to work closely with a leader to design a leadership plan as well as a team development plan.

If you are a leader wanting to balance being a super hero and simply being human, give as a call. We’d love to help you find a path that brings together the best of both your unique super powers, and supports being vulnerability, curious and courageous along the way!


CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

Check out their website: www.thriveinc.com. Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.


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