What Snow White and Superman Can Teach Us About Leadership
I love Halloween - always have. My 'go-to' costume growing up was a gypsy - mainly because I could just raid my mother's scarf and jewelry drawers to whip something up. Paul (Creatis' very own 'super' man) tells me his mother made him a special costume each year for Halloween (no wonder he is our super man with that much love and caring from his mom growing up).
I still love Halloween because it gives us a chance to step into another character - even if just for a day. These days my 'go-to' costume is Snow White and every year when I don my costume for our annual Halloween party at Creatis - I like to pause and ponder what lessons we might learn from superheros like Snow White and Superman if they were 'real' today. Here are some thoughts:
- You may not be the fairest of them all - but you can still be pretty darn fair. No matter how hard you work, there may be someone on the team who is more talented or well-connected or experienced than you. Nothing you can do about that. The key is to keep yourself as 'fair' as possible - keep your skills sharp, volunteer for that extra project to get exposure to other teams, ask for feedback on how you can get better or take some additional training classes in the evenings or on weekends. Because often 'fairness' has nothing to do with promotions - but hard work, being highly skilled and excellent at what you do sure does.
- Be Happy - no one wants to work with Grumpy, Sleepy or Dopey. Everyone can have a bad day, even Snow White and Superman. But stay as positive, energetic and, well, as happy as you can. Be a problem-solver not a problem-stater. Make good things better. Be that person that others want to be around.
- Know what your Kryptonite is. We all have 'areas of opportunity' that may cause us to lose our 'professional power' - just like Kryptonite was for Superman. Leverage your strengths but, more importantly, be clear on your weaknesses so you can actively manage around them. Find your 'Lois Lane' sidekick in a boss or co-worker that you trust and ask him/her to help you identify your blindspots. Not easy - but so necessary.
- Watch out for those poison apples. Some people build you up and some drag you down. Stay away from the gossipers and the complainers - those poison apples you find in many companies. Align yourself with those that share your drive for excellence and that want you to succeed. Be smart enough to be able to tell the difference.
- One quality can set you apart from others - take advantage of it. Each of the dwarfs had a trait that made him special and set him apart from everyone else. Maximize those top one or two things that make you special - surround yourself with people who are different than you and who complement your strengths. Remember to respect and accept your other dwarfs and honor their special skills. After all - it did take all seven of the dwarfs to save Snow White.
It is always great fun to step into that costume once a year on Halloween and become someone else. I love it because it reminds me of what makes fictional superheros great and helps me not take myself too seriously. And - by the way - it is REALLY hard to be taken seriously while conducting a meeting dressed like Snow White or Superman. But I do recommend you try it sometime - you may not get any work done but I guarantee you'll get some laughs.