Overview: Often appearing larger than life, successful leaders seem superhuman to casual observers. Upon a closer look, however, intelligent leaders are surprisingly human and vulnerable. What makes them seem superhuman is their ability to live intentionally, be more resilient, and accept challenges and setbacks as inevitable parts of any growth process.
Society expects much from leaders. We want leaders to be great listeners. We need them to embrace change and come up with creative solutions. We look to our leaders for mentorship, inspiration, and empowerment.
A servant leader is someone who can consistently empower, motivate, support, and inspire a team while leading by example and personifying everything good in human nature.
In light of these expectations, our tendency to view successful leaders as superhuman is understandable. It is a wrong tendency however, and the superhuman leader is nothing but a myth.
Deconstructing the Myth
Seeing a leader work from afar may create the impression that we’re watching a superhuman in action. Once we gain an insight into how leaders handle challenges and inspire followers, the superhuman image quickly fades away, giving us a more realistic, yet no less impressive, perception of leadership.
Leaders emerge from among us. We are all leaders in some sense. We all have control over how we live our lives, and some of us are the CEOs of our families. Though some people may have born talent and proclivity for leadership, no one is a born leader.
Many successful leaders emerge organically from among talented employees of organizations that aim to handle their succession needs in-house and use leadership coaching to this end.
Leadership coaching understands the ins and outs of intelligent leadership. Coaches know better than anyone that far from being a liability, humanity is a significant asset in leadership.
Being Human Is Part of the Intelligent Leadership Recipe
The leadership paradigm of the industrial age valued authoritarian leadership and rigid, vertical, organizational hierarchies. Authoritarian leaders strove for an image of infallibility. They expected others to perceive them as superhuman that constantly offered super leadership.
We now know the façade of invincibility and infallibility hides insecurities and weaknesses. Furthermore, seemingly infallible leaders alienate followers, disempower employees, and cause talent to leave organizations.
Intelligent leaders aren’t afraid to show vulnerability. Appearing vulnerable and human allows intelligent leaders to build strong, meaningful relationships with peers and employees. A strong leader is no longer one who never fails; leadership strength is about accepting failure and seeing it as a steppingstone to success.
Successful leaders may fail, but they also persevere. They learn their lessons and use their failures to achieve success. Intelligent leaders may be more resilient than many of us, but they’re human, nonetheless. They have weaknesses and strengths. They have aspirations and dreams. They have families and friends.
What makes successful leaders stand out is their willingness to accept challenges and work through difficulties. Instead of growing complacent, successful leaders turn to executive coaching to enhance their competencies and suppress their weaknesses.
Instead of roadblocks, they see opportunities. Instead of giving up, they accept they must work on themselves to improve their leadership. Great leaders are not superhumans; they adopt an attitude to challenges and setbacks that is different from what most people exhibit.
Successful Leaders Live Intentional Lives
Intentional living may be one of the leadership abilities that people tend to perceive as superhuman strength.
Intentional living allows leaders to live with purpose, focusing their lives on well-defined sets of values and acting in alignment with their priorities and identities.
When they live intentionally, leaders secure many benefits in addition to enhanced mental health. Intentional living creates:
- Simplicity and clarity about choices and decisions they make
- A sense of ownership and enhanced confidence
- Optimism about the future and resilience when facing setbacks
- Alignment with their core values
Leaders are not superhuman. They’re better at intentional living and more resilient as a result. They’re more confident and ready to take on challenges. They know how to handle failure and understand where their priorities lie.