Who’s Your Hero?

The more I think of it, the more heroes I have. Of course there are those who first come to mind, great leaders such as Abraham Lincoln. Then, the longer I think about it, there have been many who have helped form my perceptions in life and business. They’ve challenged and inspired me as I witnessed and learned from them.

Dick Cross, who has been writing articles in this publication on leadership and management principals, is becoming one of my heroes. I am captivated and impressed with his emphasis on traits such as patience, kindness, generosity, courtesy, humility and unselfishness. These traits are not often related to upper management characteristics. Yet they are incredibly powerful and it takes a leader with internal strength and wisdom to possess them while assuming significant responsibilities for the performance of a business.

My dictionary defines a hero as “a person noted for special achievements.” As we think of who could or should be a hero, I think we need to broaden our horizons and think of those we interact with regularly. Whether in business or any other organization, we often tend to think of a pyramid structure with those of greatest significance at the peak. Those are most commonly our heroes. We often think to advance ourselves, or to be more significant, we must continue to work our way to the peak. Yet, there is not room at the peak for many, nor is everyone suited to be there. Does that mean that they cannot be significant? Does it mean they cannot be our heroes? Absolutely not! Mark Twain said, “If everybody was satisfied with himself there would be no heroes.” I think that is the key. Those who are not satisfied can strive to achieve levels of greatness in any role.

In our businesses, and other organizations, we need to recognize those in all roles who achieve excellence. That doesn’t mean we have to promote them, even though we often think in those terms. But we do need to recognize them. Great managers understand that not all people are equal in terms of their talents. The best managers find a way of having people in roles that allow them to utilize their best talents, and they don’t put them in roles where they are constantly pointing out weaknesses and trying to change them. They focus on strengths and encourage people to maximize them. As I think of it, I can recall some technicians, some service advisers, some estimators, ASA volunteers and others who have been heroes to me. If you choose to take a moment, I’ll bet you will be able to say the same.