Have you ever had a leader or manager like that? A parent? I bet we all have at one time or another. How did it make you feel? Empowered? Emboldened? Full of drive and energy to tackle the next big project? Probably not…
Or maybe, you are one of these caped crusaders? I know I am guilty of this more often than I care to admit. Do you have to be the hero, swooshing in to save the day each and every time, in every aspect of your life?
When I see this taking place, I shout in my head : “No Capes!” see the clip from “The Incredibles” movie, for an illustration of the disastrous effects of “cape wearing” from the people at Disney/Pixar.
I want to give you an interesting question to ask yourself, if you (like me) sometimes practice this flawed approach: who are you NOT empowering while your cape is fluttering in the wind? Who is standing on the sidelines while you spike the ball in the end zone? Which of your employees just felt completely sapped of drive and energy as a result of your touchdown? Different way to view it, huh? If you are a leader who feels susceptible to this trap or know one, a 360 degree assessment can help diagnose whether or not you have a blind spot in this area.
We like to tell ourselves stories. We like to be the hero of those stories. What we forget sometimes is that we sub-optimize the people around us with this behavior. We have to sometimes fold the cape up, send it to the dry cleaners, and let someone else get the kitten out of the tree, in order to fully engage and make self-accountable those around us. Embarking on and investing in a deliberate strategy and plan for employee engagement is often the answer.
When we don’t, we risk burn out, we risk discouraging people..but mostly we risk failing to uncover what someone else has to offer and to multiply our organization’s effectiveness.
In his book, Predictable Success, Les McKeown, states that a culture of self- accountability is the single most powerful characteristic an organization can acquire to get and sustain a state of perpetual success and growth. When leaders shed their capes and let employees or teammates take ownership of their work, they create an environment where people are pulling together rather than one where they watch one person swoop in to push the boulder uphill by themselves.