Superheroes! Last week Kurt kicked-off our two-part series about how the adventures of superheroes, like The Avengers, give us clues about what it takes to build a successful career. Exploring the DC Comics universe this time (because I watched the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer), here are five more professional lessons from superheroes.
Bruce Wayne has a powerful personal brand as a billionaire playboy and, more importantly, as his crime fighting alter ego, The Dark Knight (Batman). When the bat signal flashes into the sky above Gotham everyone knows who is being called to work. Bruce Wayne’s purpose for his chosen symbol, a bat that has taken many forms over the years, is to inspire fear in his enemies and hope in his allies. His reputation and strong personal brand are earned not just through a really cool logo, but through Bruce Wayne, as Batman, living his values authentically and consistently. This is how you build an awesome personal brand: you know who you are, you know how you want people to talk about you, and you genuinely do the things that will get people talking!
Professional lesson: by authentically living your personal brand you will become unforgettable.
This hero’s burden is that he is so powerful that he has the ability to help every human being on the planet. Almost. While his humanity-helping potential is nearly infinite, Superman can’t simultaneously fight General Zod in Metropolis, save thousands from a mudslide in Peru, rescue a million kittens in a million trees, and provide input into the most important United Nations peace process. He’s so great, though, that he almost could. And this is the seductive power of multitasking. When we participate in conference calls and type emails we feel like we’re being efficient – maybe even super – but we’re actually executing two tasks with mediocrity.
When you have a lasso of truth like Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) does, well, you are likely to be known as trustworthy. Combining this important trait with thousands of years of divine wisdom and kick-ass super powers (flight, superhuman strength, invulnerability) makes Wonder Woman one of – if not the – smartest member of the Justice League. From intergalactic battle tactics to her incredible ability to empathize with her friends and foes, Wonder Woman is pretty much a perfect role model for leaders everywhere because she is always thinking about how the big picture fits into everyone’s individual work and life. Oh, and her moral compass is beyond reproach.
Professional lesson: when you show your humanity you will gain trust from your team.
Barry Allen (the Flash) is really, really fast. He might not have the leadership capabilities of Wonder Woman or the strategic thinking ability of Batman or the diverse superhero toolkit of Superman, but he is really, really fast. Many of us are like the Flash; we’re strong at one particular thing and pretty good at everything else. You can make a strong impact in your career by mastering particular technologies (Excel, WordPress or Photoshop) or soft skills (public speaking, adaptability or connecting people). And, hey, if you give the Flash a task he’ll probably execute it faster than anyone else and maintain a high level of accuracy, too.
If this guy is known for anything it’s for his connection to the natural world (whether or not this is demonstrated in the 2016 film by Aquaman riding a seahorse is yet to be determined). To say the least, Aquaman understands the important connections between humans and the environment, which makes him a better superhero. Having a deep connection to nature fosters mindfulness, too, which means that Aquaman is most likely a pretty good non-verbal communicator, too (this skills is helpful when one is giving instructions underwater afterall).