How Leaders Can Stop Hogging the Hero Moments

One-Sentence Summary: Every leader wants to be a hero, but rather than hog the hero moments, great leaders empower others to be heroes. 

As a leader, have you ever been a hero to those who follow you?

Maybe you were the bearer of great news. Or maybe you served or loved them in an unexpected way. Maybe you gave them a job!

Most point leaders have the opportunity to be a hero with their staff from time-to-time, but what about the other “leaders” in the organization?

It’s an important question, because there are lots of people in every establishment leading something or someone. On our church staff, nearly everyone leads a staff team and/or volunteer team. Not everyone, but nearly everyone. There is one point leader, but there are nearly 65 leaders.

What I see too often (and maybe you’ve see this a lot, too), is point leaders hogging the hero moments while lower-level leaders are forced to handle the day-to-day, non-hero stuff. And unfortunately, there’s not too many “hero” moments day-to-day.

We can all understand why this happens. There are few things more fun than being a hero to the people you lead. Mostly because leadership can at times feel more like the “art of disappointing people at a rate they can stand (John Ortberg coined that little gem)! So hero moments — although few and far between — are to be cherished for sure. A leader may even say “leveraged” by the big honcho.

But here’s a thought: The lower-level leaders in every organization, those involved in the more day-to-day tasks, are leading people more directly than anyone. They are closer to the action. If Ortberg is right, then these leaders are disappointing people more frequently than anyone. Pushing people more frequently. And saying “no” more frequently. If anyone needs “hero” moments, it’s these leaders. That’s exactly why point leaders need to ensure they are never “hero hogging.”

Here’s an easy way to avoid being a hero hog: As a point leader (of a company, department, etc.):

1. Choose to own the bad (or disappointing) stuff.

2. Choose to pass along the good stuff to other leaders in the organization.

Literally, that’s it.

Simple Example: Like most companies and organizations, at Woodstock City Church we do what we can to increase salaries and even provide an occasional bonus at the end of every year. It’s normal for us to solicit salary increase suggestions from every leader within the organization, but when it’s time to communicate the increases, it’s too easy for the point leader (in this case me) to hog the good news. After all, being a hero is fun! And increasing salaries is fun, too!

But we collectively chose a better solution. We pushed down the good news delivery as far as we could. Every staff member got to inform their own direct reports. What a win that was for every manager! For a full week, all I saw is managers and direct reports smiling from ear to ear. Being a hero is fun.

Of course, this is just one example. There are so many ways to allow other leaders to be the hero:

  • Share your budget with a lower-level leader so they can pay for the team’s meal.
  • Publicly celebrate other leaders in front of their direct reports.
  • Give credit to other leaders whose ideas and work is making a difference.
  • Allow every leader to be the “face” for their team.
  • Focus on serving the organization over leading the organization.

I’m sure there are many, many more ways. Maybe you can share some of your ideas in the comments below.

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