Everyone Has A Superpower

Everyone Has A Superpower

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of discussion about diversity, equality, and bias. As I reflect upon these events, the stronger my conviction becomes in the power of diversity. Not just in race or gender, but in a larger sense... every person is special in some way. In other words, I believe everyone has superpower. This means that the strength of a leader can be measured by their ability to find or develop the superpower of everyone in their team.

What is a superpower?
I firmly believe that everyone is good at something. That something is our superpower. For some people, it is readily apparent what their superpower is, but for others we may have to give them opportunities to show it or develop it. It is then our job as leaders to empower them to discover or develop these powers.

“Every [person] I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from [them].” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love this quote because it starts with a humble mindset. Everyone is better than I am in some way and because of this I can learn from them — this is key to finding someone’s superpower. If we believe that everyone else is better than us in some way, it will be easier to find their superpower.

I changed the quote to be gender neutral and I hesitate to change the words of Ralph Emerson, but words have meaning and we should be conscious of this to prevent the development of hidden or unconscious biases.

Conscious and unconscious biases are not the only barriers to finding someone’s superpower. Other barriers include: trust, fear, empathy, and time.

  • Trust: We have all heard the phrase “trust is earned”. While this may be true for a subordinate’s trust in leaders, but it the opposite for us. Leaders must start by giving away trust. We must trust that everyone will use their superpowers for the good of the organization and not for evil.
  • Fear: This can manifest in many different ways, but some people are afraid of rejection, failure, the appearance of being abnormal, or change. These all inhibit the development of superpowers or prevent someone from showing it.
  • Empathy: It is difficult to find or develop someone’s strength without understanding. If there is someone who is underperforming I am sure they did not wake up in the morning wanting to underperform. Empathy goes a long way in understanding the person and discovering their hidden potential.
  • Time: It takes time to develop our people. The pace and demands of the mission often make it difficult to carve out the time we need to develop our teams, but we must do it. That being said, it may not be practical to develop each individual personally for leaders in large organizations. If that is the case and we find ourselves spending 90% of our time on 10% of our people, we should not neglect the other 90%. We can still reach others by developing and empowering our direct subordinates, so that they can do the same for their people.
Hopefully this article has helped us think of our teams in a different way. Please share your thoughts on this subject and what your superpower is.


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