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Heroic Leadership Positions Other People to Be Heroes

heroic leadership

As a leader, have you ever played the role of hero? Perhaps a difficult decision needed to be made and you stepped in? Or maybe an employee made an error and you took the public blame? You played the part of hero by delivering great news or offering a job or increasing a budget. Point leaders often have opportunities to do provide heroic leadership, but what about the other “leaders” in the organization?

It’s an important question.  There are lots of people in every organization leading something or someone. There is one point leader, but there are numerous other leaders.

What I see too often (and maybe you’ve seen 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 are not enough “hero” moments day-to-day.

I’m guessing the hero-hogging is mostly accidental. In leadership, there are few things more rewarding than feeling like a hero, 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.

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 to be recognized heroic leadership, it’s these leaders. That’s exactly why point leaders need to ensure they are never “hero hogging.”

2 Ways Heroic Leadership Avoid Being a “Hero “Hog”

1. Choose to own the 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 manager within the organization, but when it’s time to communicate the increases, it’s too easy for the point leader to hog the good news. After all, being a hero is fun! And increasing salaries is fun, too!

We’ve collectively chosen a better solution. We push down the good news delivery as far as we can. In most cases, every staff member informs their own direct reports of salary increases. What a win for every manager! What a hero moment for every manager!

Of course, this is just one example of heroic leadership. 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 are making a difference.

  • Allow every leader to be the “face” of their team.

  • Focus on serving the organization over leading the organization.

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

This article on heroic leadership originally appeared here, and is used by permission.