Put Your Superpowers to Work

coach2growth superhero leadership powers

Quick! Answer the following questions:

  • Spreadsheet or doc person?
  • Big picture or detail driven?
  • Phone, email, text or Slack communicator?
  • People or data preference?
  • Siri or Google search?
  • White board thinker or mull privately?

Generally, we have an affinity for how we think, communicate and make decisions. Tapping into the skills that come naturally to you is vital to capitalizing on your superpowers as a leader. When used correctly, your superpowers can put you in the zone of optimal performance and job satisfaction.

Back in my corporate days, I took over the responsibilities of the same person twice as he moved on to different opportunities within the company. He was well known for BIG [sometimes “Yuge!”] ideas and vision. There was no one better at whipping up excitement and gaining buy-in across the company. Implementation, on the other hand, was not his forte. When I took over his position the first time, I asked for his project files and, genuinely puzzled, he responded, “What files?

I’m more pragmatist. I enjoy putting together puzzle pieces to see how the picture emerges. My mind instinctively navigates to “How?” as I focus on developing a sustainable process to help things run smoothly. I gravitate toward strategy and problem solving assignments. As it turns out, I was a strong complement to my visionary predecessor.

In the end, we both delivered value. Each of us, however, brought completely different superpowers to the table.

Putting your Kryptonite to work
There is a tendency by some leaders to denigrate themselves for certain communication and decision-making preferences. Like Kryptonite, these presumed “weaknesses” wear leaders down and constrain their performance.

In actuality, such style preferences may be innate strengths, which can be magnified when paired with the right collaborator, or allowed time and space to percolate.

All too often, I hear self-deprecating leaders say things like:

  • “I don’t think quickly on my feet.”
  • “I hate presenting in large groups.”
  • “I’m too detail-oriented.”

Rarely do I hear:

  • “I’m carving out time to think [in my Fortress of Solitude, perhaps] of possible scenarios and viable responses in preparation for that meeting.
  • “It’d be helpful to find someone to partner with me on that presentation.”
  • “I’m rehearsing my work with Jamie to make sure I stay out of the weeds.”

questions to identify leadership superpowersIt’s well and good to summon courage and develop new leadership skills, like presenting at an all-hands meeting. It’s a big leap, though, for most people to walk out on stage for a TED talk without a lot of practice.

Let’s face it; most of us don’t make wholesale changes to our innate personality or communication styles overnight. So, bridging the gap while we stretch ourselves into new areas of growth is essential, and it can be a lot more fun to partner with someone who has complementary skills.

Lastly, if after considering these strategies, you still feel like you’re operating inside Bizarro World, it may be time to consider whether your current environment and job lets your innate leadership strengths come to life. Sometimes it makes more sense to consider alternatives, change it up…or [sorry!] “leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Up, Up, and Away!

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