Movies need heroes, you don’t. How great leaders empower their people.
Think of any blockbuster movie, and a great hero will feature. Luke Skywalker, Jason Bourne, Katniss Everdene, Optimus Prime, Ellen Ripley. Magnificent heroes make for profitable Hollywood stories. Marvel are the one of the best at giving them heart-pounding names, like Wonder Woman, Captain America and Iron Man. The soundtrack changes when the hero enters the scene, letting us all know we are in the presence of historic greatness plus lightsabre/magic sword/super-human power. As members of the non-heroic masses, we simply watch in awe as we are saved from evil. The soundtrack becomes triumphant as we cheer loudly from our cheap seats.
Away from Hollywood and back in the real world, life is a bit less exciting and, sadly, much more complicated. We often respect our business leaders, and sometimes our political leaders but, let’s be honest, we don’t write them soundtracks and bow in admiration as they swoop in to save our quarterly sales with their lightsabre and fight off our competitors with their terrifying PowerPoint slides.
Why? Because in the real world, leaders don’t have superpowers. They have the resources of their organisations – mostly people, technology and money. To win against the competitor in business, leaders must tackle the much trickier challenge of mobilising those resources the best they can. They cannot save the day themselves – their leadership skills must be applied to work miracles through other people. The title ‘leader’ is almost inappropriate – it implies special powers that simply do not exist. If you believe in the special powers of your leader, you may need to take a reality check!
Let’s rename ‘leaders’ and call them ‘power-givers’ instead
Power-givers know their job is to ensure every single person in their organisation grows and exercises their own special talents, powers and capacities.
Power-givers connect people because they know that true power comes from working together and sharing both burdens and successes.
Power-givers release autonomy to the far outer edges of their organisations because they know that creativity, innovation and growth can come from anywhere; those living at the gritty front-line as well as smart-suited executives.
Power-givers don’t need to take the credit. They love to give that to others too. Power-givers are good at growing businesses, because they are good at giving power to the people.