“What would be your Superhero power?”

This is the question posed to me on a recent management development programme. At lunch time we had got to talking about the most recent Avengers movie, which had all the Superheroes, all the powers. We all stepped in to the superhero world together and discussed the merits of which one we would be and the powers we would have.

Wonder-woman and Superman did quite well in the discussion, followed by Captain Marvel (but I think this could be spoilers for a new film).

What does the debate over Superhero’s have to do with Management, Leadership and Executive Development?

After lunch we brought the discussion in to the group session. Rather than asking what Superhero you would be or what powers you would have, we drilled it down to two options. Actually, Forbes drilled it down to two options for us, we took them forward in the discussion.

In 2015 Forbes completed a study of 7,000 global leaders asking them which Superhero they would like to be, and in particular would they prefer to fly or be invisible. The published results caused quite a stir and attracted over 30,000 views. (Our Superhero goal is to achieve similar views with our little blog!)

Forbes concluded that an average of 73% chose the ability to fly over invisibility, and this was regardless of the seniority level or job function of the leader.

It was interesting to note that 91% of the group I was working with chose to be fliers over invisibility. The discussion within the group was very similar to outcomes of the study where flying was seen as being much more confident and in control and to be a visible leader. There was some discussion around invisibility, and the fact that you could see what was really happening in the team. Who was and wasn’t working. This was quickly discussed as being sneaky and not a good leadership trait. A positive about invisibility was that you didn’t need to be seen for everything to work well. There are pro’s and con’s to each power. Or good and evil as we continue with the Superhero theme.

The Forbes blog concludes: “…to one degree or another, everything that you do and everything that you say represents you. As you move throughout your workday and even in your recreational activities, everything counts.”

Which power would you choose and why?

At your next team meeting, or your next management meeting, why not take some time to discuss and reflect on styes of leadership and ask which power would be each persons preference, and why?

It doesn’t really matter which one they choose, it is their reason why that will show who and what they stand for. You can gain real insight in to how each person behaves and what their attitude will be like. Also, how to manage that relationship too. It is when we digress over seemingly unimportant debates that we really get to know someone.